Vicphysics Teachers' Network Inc.
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This newsletter has an article from the UK on playful learning to assist students as they recover from years of COVID lockdown.

There is a nice application of physics to the problem of mountain climbing on the moon.

Three schools are seeking physics teachers and there is information of online self paced PD from the UK on the science of learning and using formative assessment.


The next meeting of the Vicphysics committee will be on Wednesday, 4th May online at 5:30pm.  If you wish to attend please email Vicphysics.

Dr Barbara McKinnon (Pres), Jane Coyle (Vice-Pres), Dan O'Keeffe OAM (Sec) and Sandor Kazi (Treas),

Table of Contents
       1. A Post COVID teaching strategy: Using games as playful learning
       2. Seeking a Physics teacher?, Seeking a new position? (3 positions)   
       3. Vicphysics matters
  • Subscriptions
  • Tutor Listing Service
       4. Events for Students        5. Events for Teachers
  • Online PD
  • Open Cultural Astronomy Forum, 9:00am, Friday, 6th May
       6. Physics News from the Web 
  • Quantum batteries harvest energy from light
  • Solar cell keeps going after sunset
  • Mountain climbing on the Moon
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1A Post COVID teaching strategy: Using games as playful learning
This UK article discusses a 'game based learning pedagogy' (1 page).  There are also links to articles on 'How Teachers can Gamify Science' (2 p) and 'Gamification in Science Education: A systematic review of the literature' (36 p).

 
2.Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a new position?
The Vicphysics Teachers' Network has a Job Ads page to assist schools in finding a physics teacher.
There is three (3) schools seeking a physics teacher:
  • Rosebud Secondary College (closes 5th May, listed under Junior Maths / Science teacher, but there is the opportunity to take Year 12 physics)
  • Craigieburn Secondary College  (closes 10th May)
  • Lara Secondary College (closes 10th May)
The webpage is updated every weekend.  The webpage also has a link on how schools can register a position and lodge a payment for this service.
  • Subscriptions: Subscriptions will last for a year from the day payment is received. Both individual and school subscriptions are available.
  • Tutor Listing Service: The website has a Tutor Listing Service.  There are now four tutors listed.  If you tutor and wish to add your name to the list, please check the website.
4. Events for Students
a)  
Girls in Physics Breakfasts in 2022

After a break of two years, the Girls in Physics Breakfasts are back.  There are now five events open for bookings.  They are:

  • Thursday, 19th May at Monash University. The speaker is Dr Amanda Karakas and her topic is 'Stars as chemical element factories'.
  • Wednesday, 1st June in Bendigo.  The speaker is Dr Semonti Bhattacharyya and her topic is 'Tinkering with atoms to build electronic devices for the future'.
  • Thursday, 14th July at Warrnambool.  The speaker is Prof Frances Separovic AO and her topic is 'MRI of molecules: Where Biophysics meets Cell Chemistry'
  • Thursday, 28th July in Central Melbourne.  The speaker is A/Prof Katarina Miljkovic, the AIP Women in Physics lecturer for 2022 and her topic is 'Impacts! Rocks from space colliding with Planets'
  • Friday, 19th August at Mildura.  The speaker is Dr Judy Hart and her topic is 'Developing new materials for Renewable Energy'
Click here for more details of each event, such as promotional flyers, speakers' bios and abstracts of their talks.  There are also links for make a booking.

Cost: $15 per student if booking with a credit card through Trybooking and $25 if using bank transfer with an invoice .  There is a discount for low ICSEA schools.
b) 
Victorian Young Physicists' Tournament for students in Year 10 and 11

VYPT is back this year with a number of changes. For those not familiar with VYPT.  It is a competition for students in Years 10 and 11. During Terms 2 and 3, in teams of 3, the students experimentally investigate a common set of three topics, then on Saturday, 10th September in a series of one-on-one 30 minute contests with other teams, they describe their method, explain their findings, and question and challenge the presentations of others.
The topics for 2022 are:

  • Conical Piles Non-adhesive granular materials can be poured such that they form a cone-like pile. Investigate the parameters that affect the formation of the cone and the angle it makes with the ground.
  • Saxon Bowl A bowl with a hole in its base will sink when placed in water. The Saxons used this device for timing purposes. Investigate the parameters that determine the time of sinking.
  • Falling Tower: Identical discs are stacked one on top of another to form a freestanding tower. The bottom disc can be removed by applying a sudden horizontal force such that the rest of the tower will drop down onto the surface and the tower remains standing. Investigate the phenomenon and determine the conditions that allow the tower to remain standing.
These topics are engaging, accessible at different levels, don't require a lot of equipment and not restricted to the science classroom. They are an ideal challenge for keen students.  They can also be done as part of the Unit 2 Practical Investigation Area of Study.

The features of the competition are:
  • it is team based,
  • focused on experimental investigations and
  • uses oral presentations.
Prizes: There is a prize for every student, with major prizes for top place getters and a trophy for the winning team.
Mentors: This year sees the involvement of university students, who will not only assist teachers on the judging panels, but will be available as mentors to the teams. Teachers will be able to request a mentor for each team when they register.
Venue: University of Melbourne
Registration: This year there is a fee: $20 per team for a Vicphysics subscriber, $40 per team for a non-subscriber.  Registrations are now open and will close on 29th July, see links to 'Teachers' below. 
Note: One teacher for every two teams needs to be nominated, who will be a member of the judging panels on the day.
Travel Subsidy will be available for regional schools.

For further details, there are four relevant webpages on the Vicphysics website:
  • For general information,
  • For teachers to register teams, along with advice on planning, including a promotional flyer and a link to the video of Physics Teachers' Conference workshop with a discussion among a panel of teachers who have participated before.
  • For students, with guide questions, hints and links to useful resources.
  • For University students, interested in being judges and mentors.
c)  Poster Competition for Unit 2 Practical Investigation
The Poster Competition is designed to award quality student work and to provide exemplars of quality investigations. There is a maximum of ten prizes, with a list of criteria on this webpage.  Entries need to be submitted as a one page pdf.  The posters should be sent as an email attachment by the teacher to Vicphysics by the second Friday of Term 4.  Successful entries with judges' comments are also on the webpage.

d) Physics Photo Contest
Entrants must submit their photos by email attachment. The photo must accompanied by a statement of 250 words or less describing the physics in the photo.  Entries are limited to 10 per school each year. The photos can involve everyday situations that may demonstrate a variety of physics concepts or a set-up to show a particular physics concept or related set of concepts.

Prize pool: up to $1000.  Closing Date: The Friday of the first week of term 4.  For details click here

e) Physics Video Contest
Entrants must submit their video either as an email attachment or on a DVD. Videos must be in MP4 or Quicktime format, or a format suitable for video streaming. The video should relate to some aspect of the VCE Physics Curriculum. It may not be longer than three minutes in length. 
Students could use the videos by the keynote speaker at the 2012 Physics Teachers' Conference, Dr Derek Muller, as a guide to how to structure a video. His videos can be found at his website

The submission must contain a statement of 250 words or less explaining the physics in the video. Entries are limited to 10 per school each year. Closing Date: Friday of the first week of Term 4. 
Prize pool: Up to $1000.  For details click here.

5. Events for Teachers

a) Online PD
STEM learning (UK) provides on line courses on a range of topics.  The courses are self-paced and can be started at any time.  They vary in the time required and the cost. The courses are not facilitated. The courses include:

b) Open Cultural Astronomy Forum, 9:00am Friday, 6th May

This is a seminar series initiated by Mehrnoosh Tahani (DRAO, Canada) and Ray Norris (WSU/CSIRO, Australia), to understand the role of astronomy in cultures, the influence of cultures on current astronomy, and to inspire more students from diverse backgrounds to pursue astronomy.

Seminars currently take place on the first Thursday of each month (on a semi-monthly basis) at 23:00 UTC, which is currently 9:00 (Friday) AEST. In the future they may increase the frequency of meetings and adjust the time to suit other international time zones.
The Forum on 6th May is on:  

Topic: Exploring the influence of meteors on culture and society
Speaker: Duane Hamacher (University of Melbourne, Australia)
Abstract: Meteors are a topic of extreme interest to scientists, social scientists, theologians, and the public alike. These natural phenomena signify the Creation and the Apocalypse, the beginning and end, the Alpha and the Omega. The impact of comets during the Earth's formation seeded the ingredients necessary for life to evolve, while later impacts erased the very life it helped to create. Cultural traditions about meteors follow a similar view - they can seed life and destroy it. This talk will examine the role of meteors in cultures across the globe, with a focus on the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures of Australia, featuring videos of traditional dances that show the importance and relevance of bright meteors and their relationship to transiting from this world to the afterlife.

No registration is needed - just turn up. Access is via zoom. 

6.   Physics News from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.
a) Quantum batteries harvest energy from light
Your night-mode photos might get a lot crisper thanks to a new device that exploits quantum mechanics to absorb photons more efficiently. Known as a quantum battery, the device stores the energy of the absorbed photons and can be charged simply by shining light on it — great news not just for low-light iPhone photography, but also for solar panels, which could use similar technology to capture the Sun’s energy a lot faster.

b) Solar cell keeps going after sunset
A new type of photovoltaic cell continues working after sunset thanks to an additional generator that harvests electricity from the temperature difference between the cell and its surroundings. The combined device can generate 50 mW or more of power per square metre at night while providing additional power during the day.

When the Sun is shining, conventional photovoltaic (PV) cells absorb energy over a wide range of wavelengths. At night, the cells lose heat to their surroundings, leaving them several degrees cooler than the ambient air due to radiative cooling. 

The new device uses this difference in temperatures to generate a voltage and current via the thermoelectric effect. Here, a temperature gradient across a solid material containing free charge carriers (electrons and holes) produces a voltage as the carriers migrate from the hot side of the material to the cold side. The strength of this thermoelectric effect is characterized by its thermopower, or Seebeck coefficient, which is the ratio of the voltage difference to the temperature difference across a material.

c) Mountain climbing on the Moon
One night in November 1609, Galileo turned his telescope to the Moon and realized that the changing shadows implied it had mountains. I find myself wondering: what would climbing them involve?

For my expedition, I have chosen the central peaks of the spectacular Theophilus crater in the south-east. The summit is around 1800 m above the crater floor and after eons of meteor bombardments the peak has modest gradients so it should be a walk without any rock climbing. Despite a significant altitude change, my initial thought was that with the reduced gravity of the Moon, it would be relatively easy to accomplish the ascent in a reasonable time – but would it?  Read on.

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