Vicphysics Teachers' Network Inc.
Dear *|FNAME|*,

The day of Workshops for Lab Techs is on again. It focuses on Physics in Years 7 - 10.  It will be on Weds, 15th September and is jointly organised by Vicphysics Teachers' Network and Camberwell Grammar School.

If you are interested in the geological story of Gold in Victoria, check out the online Conference of evening lectures celebrating 150 years of the Ballarat School of Mines.  The two remaining July Lectures are by Profs Geoff Taylor and David Jamieson.

And check out the story on the Square Kilometre Array getting the construction go-ahead.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers' Network will be on Wednesday, 21st July at 5:30pm. If you wish to participate, please contact Vicphysics.

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

Table of Contents
       1. The Proposed VCE Physics Study Design
       2. Workshops for Lab Techs on Physics in Years 7 - 10. Weds, 15th September    
       3. Vicphysics Subscriptions
       4. Events for Students        5. Events for Teachers
  • Online Conference celebrating 150 years of the Ballarat School of Mines - The historical, archaeological, economic and social influences associated with mining in central Victoria. Victorian Gold depositsHow the understanding of geology has evolved and the story of their formation.
  • July Lectures in Physics, 6:30pm, Fridays, University of Melbourne. Online via Zoom and In person
  • Talk, Dinner and Catching up, Weds 25th August 
  • Public lectures online from the Australian Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS)   
       6. Physics News from the Web 
  • What does physics look like and does it matter?
  • Construction go-ahead for 2bn Euro Square Kilometre Array
  • Non-toxic supercapacitors go fully recyclable
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1. The proposed Study Design
The draft of the proposed Physics Study Design has been released for consultation. Copies of the draft and a summary can be found on the VCAA website and on the Vicphysics website.  There is also a questionnaire on the VCAA site. 

A pdf copy of the questionnaire is available on our website . The questionnaire is comprehensive and extensive (35 pages). It may be easier to read the pdf, think about the questions and prepare your responses in your own time and then paste them into the online questionnaire

Consultation closes on 3rd August.

2. Workshops for Lab Techs - Physics in Years 7 - 10. Weds, 15th Sept, Camberwell Grammar School

Purpose: To enhance the skills and confidence of laboratory technicians in supporting the physics aspects of the Years 7 – 10 Science Curriculum. The focus is on the resources commonly found in schools.

The program includes workshops on:

  • Learning new skills: i) Using and repairing multimeters, ii) Setting up a CRO for demonstrations with both analog and digital versions, iii) Using a Ruhmkorff coil for high voltage demonstrations. (45 mins each)
  • Quick Tests on Equipment to see if it is working or not plus a few hints on fixing stuff with Harvey Edwards from Principles and Practice. Some suggestions are i) Basic fault finding technique, ii) LED and other electronic component testing, Hodson Light Box lamps – common faults, iii) Power supplies (power packs) – testing, iv) Maintaining ac/dc hand generators. 1 hour)
  • Tips, tricks and techniques with sensor technologies with Doug Bail from Ciderhouse, to help you, teachers and students make the most of the digital data acquisition available to schools.  The workshop will include some experiments, chat through tips, maintenance, calibration and analyse some data to help you support the use of this equipment.  The session will use PASCO gear but is intended for support of all equipment and particular notes will be made of options available from other suppliers. ( 1 hour)
  • Safe handling of ionising radiation and storage of radioactive sources ( 45 mins)
  • Laboratory management hints and lab tour ( 45 mins)

Cost: $60. Lunch is provided. .
For more details and to register, click here.

3. Vicphysics Subscriptions
The free introductory offer has lapsed. To now access the Teachers resources section of the website a paid subscription is required. Details are at the bottom of the home page.

a) VCE Lectures: Wednesdays at 4:30pm, University of Melbourne
The first lecture for Term 3 planned for Wednesday, 21st July has been cancelled and will be re-scheduled later in the year.
Future dates are 4th Aug, 18th Aug, 1st Sept, 15th Sept, 6th October.
Check here for details of future talks.

b) Victorian Young Physicists' Tournament - Registrations close 23rd July
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 Sunday, 12th 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 2021 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.

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 23rd 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.
Live-Streaming: Vicphysics has received funding from Inspiring Victoria to enable one of the contests in each round to be streamed. The registration form includes a section on approval to be part of the live streaming.

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) The Exciton Solar Cell Challenge
The special features of the Exciton Solar Cell Challenge are:
  • It is an experimental challenge for Year 7-10 students in teams of 2 - 3.
  • Students construct their own Dye Sensitised Solar Cell (DSSC) using a dye they source.
  • Kits are sent to schools and students complete the challenge with teacher support (20 free kits per school, extra kits are $20 each) and then send in evidence of experimentation.
  • This challenge is best for extension groups and STEM clubs.
  • Prizes and certificates are sent to students upon challenge completion.
  • The challenge is running through Terms 2-4 this year with a very flexible timeline.
The website has sections about key dates, information for teachers, digital copy of resources and a registration link.  The kits sent to the schools has the two more difficult to acquire materials, the rest are common science equipment and chemicals.

When you register you can request a researcher to present an introductory zoom lesson (30 mins) for the students.
5. Events for Teachers 

a) Online Conference celebrating 150 years of the Ballarat School of Mines - The historical, archaeological, economic and social influences associated with mining in central Victoria.
The conference celebrates 150 continuous years of education, research and discovery in geosciences and mining for Federation University and its predecessor institutions.

  • Victorian Gold Deposits - 150 years of Learning. with Dr Dennis Arne. Tues, 20th July, 7:00pm - 8:15pm

The Victorian goldfields are among the world’s richest, having produced an estimated 2500 tons of gold since 1851. Most of this was recovered prior to 1920 from shallow alluvial workings but recent years have seen a resurgence in exploration and mining in the region. Dennis will discuss how our understanding of geology has evolved over the lifetime of the Victorian mines and how combining chemical, X - ray and microscope information reveals the nature of the Victorian deposits and the story of their formation.

Dr Arne is currently President of the International Association of Applied Geochemists and Director at Telemark Geosciences.
To register click here .   Future lectures are on: 

  • Tuesday 10 August 7.00 - 8.00pm: Professor Erik Eklund, Historian Federation University
  • Tuesday 14 September 7.00 - 8.00pm: Professor Susan Lawrence Archaeologist La Trobe University

b) July Lectures in Physics, 6:30pm, Fridays, University of Melbourne - Online via Zoom and In person

  • Friday, 23rd July: How International Cooperation enables Fundamental Physics Breakthrough with Prof Geoff Taylor

As the science of the fundamental building blocks of our universe has evolved, so has the need for larger and larger “atom smashing” machines. The now famous Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN would not have been possible without a highly collaborative approach to big science.

The difficulty of developing and maintaining international cooperation of the scale and timeline characterising the LHC is daunting. It involves continued efforts from scientists, through laboratory and funding agencies, to the highest levels of governments and intergovernmental organisations. All the while, high levels of communication of the needs and benefits of such projects amongst the community is paramount.

This talk will present the ups and downs of building highly collaborative giant particle colliders, past, present and future. Professor Geoff Taylor brings a career of personal experience of such projects to the talk.

Venue: Basement Lecture Theatre 117, Glyn Davis building, University of Melbourne
To register, click here.

  • Friday, 30th July Ahead of their time - Revolutionary Discoveries in Physics made too soon with Prof David Jamieson.

Oliver Heaviside prematurely discovered a fundamental result of Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity in 1888 nearly twenty years before Einstein. Ida Noddak explained anomalous results from Enrico Fermi’s experiments as evidence for nuclear fission, but her explanation was dismissed as ridiculous for nine years before it was accepted as correct.

Through this lecture, Professor David Jamieson will look at advances in physics that were ahead of their time and asks: can we identify the premature discoveries of the present day that may shape the future? To find them, should we be looking for a ‘lone genius’ or is scientific creativity more complex than that?

Venue: Basement Lecture Theatre 117, Glyn Davis Building, University of Melbourne
To register, click here

Video recordings of past July Lectures in Physics   This archive has videos of all the lectures going back to 1991.  Some titles that immediately catch your eye are:

  • Physics of Life: What do the laws of Physics say? with Prof David Jamieson
  • Physics of epidemics: helping to keep us safe with Prof James McCaw
  • The physics of the Apollo Moon Mission in 1969: Do astronauts obey Kepler's Laws? with Prof Tony Klein
  • Physics and the Moon: The Double Planet with Prof David Jamieson

c) Talk, Dinner and Catching up, 6:00pm, Weds, 25th August
The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network invites physics teachers and others interested in physics education to gather in an informal setting for a series of dinners with a guest speaker. The guest speakers will address diverse topics touching on curriculum, pedagogy and the discipline itself.  Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in discussion and network with colleagues over dinner. 

The first occasion has been re-scheduled to Wednesday, 25th August at the Auburn Hotel at 85 Auburn Rd, Hawthorn starting at 6:00pm.

The speaker will be Dr Victoria Millar from the Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne.

Topic: What is the role of physics education and how does that determine the elements of a physics curriculum?

This is particularly opportune with a revised study design to be implemented in 2023.

Dr Millar is a senior lecturer in the Graduate School of Education and has been at the University since 2011. Prior to that she taught Physics in schools in Victoria. Her research interests are in physics and science education, particularly science participation, curriculum and interdisciplinarity.

The cost is $35 ($30 for Vicphysics subscribers) and covers a main course and drinks.

For more details and to book click here.

d) Public lectures on line from the Australian Centre of Excellence for Mathematical and Statistical Frontiers (ACEMS).
ACEMS has a series of lectures on a diverse range of topics which can be viewed at your convenience.  They include:

  • Uncertainty of wind flow in the environment and its role in bushfire management and renewable energy.
  • (Mis)(Dis)Information in social networks,
  • Modelling the heart,
  • Mathematics of knots, etc

6.   Physics News from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).

a) What does physics look like, and does it matter?
The conceptual worlds of physics have long inspired artists and thinkers across disciplines. The article explores how different approaches to visualizing physics can open up the way that society thinks and feels about physics as an imaginative human endeavour.

b) Construction go-ahead for €2bn Square Kilometre Array
The go-ahead has been given to build what will be the world’s largest radio telescope network. Last week the council of the Square Kilometre Array Observatory (SKAO) gave the green light to construct the €2bn Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in Australia and southern Africa. To be complete by 2028, it is anticipated that the SKA will operate for the next 50 years.
As its name suggests, the SKA is a facility that intends to have a total collecting area of 1 km2, achieved by spreading out thousands of individual dishes in southern Africa as well as a million wire antennas in Australia. SKA is designed to provide astronomers with unprecedented views of the first stars in the universe and observations of gravitational waves via the radio emissions from pulsars, among other things.

c)  Non-toxic supercapacitors go fully recyclable
Researchers at the Empa in Dübendorf, Switzerland, have made a high-performance supercapacitor entirely from recyclable, non-toxic materials. The device can withstand thousands of charge and discharge cycles, resists pressure and shock, and works even at freezing temperatures, making it an environmentally-friendly option for powering Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

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Our mailing address is:

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