Vicphysics Teachers' Network Inc.
Dear *|FNAME|*,
A number of teachers have set up their own websites for their own students to access and also to share with other teachers.  Another such website has been added to the list on the Vicphysics website. There also has been a request for teachers interested in his area to share their ideas and techniques..

Something special for students: VSSEC has organised an online conference with the NASA's Chief Scientist, Dr James Green.  It is this Wednesday morning, see details below.

Catching up with colleagues face to face: Vicphysics and Melbourne University are taking the AIP Women in Physics lecturer for 2021, Prof Susanna Guatelli, to dinner after her VCE lecture on Wednesday, 12th May. You are welcome to attend her talk and join us afterwards.


The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers' Network will be on Wednesday, 5th May at 5:30pm. It will be an online meeting. 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. Teachers' Websites and a Call to share ideas
       2. Assessing Learning - A Survey

       3. Vicphysics Subscriptions
       4. Events for Students        5. Events for Teachers
  • Dinner with Prof Susanna Guatelli, the 2021 AIP Women in Physics Lecturer, 6:30pm, 12th May
  • Big Ideas in Physics: A New Scientist Online Lecture Series
       6. Physics News from the Web 
  • Crisis in a lockdown: how NIST coped with a radiation leak
  • How to keep a skipping stone on a steady path across water
  • Surprising physics that we depend on for existence
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1. Teachers' Websites and Call to share ideas
In recent years, a number of teachers have set up their own websites and made their work available online for other teachers.  The material may be course plans, teaching ideas, worksheets or home grown videos.

The latest of these is Mark Judd from Lavalla College, whose website has resources covering Year 10 to Year 12 and includes videos by Mark. There is also a link to his Youtube channel and Facebook page.

Mark's website has been added to the list of Teacher-developed websites on the Vicphysics website, which is in the Teachers section under 'General Resources', then 'Useful Websites and Youtube videos'.

Currently there are links to websites set up by Paul FitzGerald and Paul Fielding, Justin Vincent, Jane Coyle, Tristan Vale and Mark Synnot.

ACTION: It has been suggested that it would be useful to set up a discussion group of people interested in or active in producing their own videos.   Some questions to consider are: i) how are you doing it?, ii) what software are you using?, iii) what audio set up? and iv) do your students submit video? 
If you are interested in being involved, please contact Vicphysics .

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2. Assessing Learning - A Survey
The last newsletter referred to a survey about the various methods of progressive or formative and as well as summative assessment that you use.  The survey is organised by Dr Syd Boydell and Dr Merryn Dawborn-Gundlach from the University of Melbourne .  There are 5 tick the box questions asking which tools you use and how useful you find each of them.  It should take between 4 and 8 minutes to complete.

You are also able to view progressive survey results as well as read the comments by other respondents, both which should be instructive in themselves.

The survey can be accessed here.

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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) What does it take to be a Martian?, 10:00am, Weds, 5th May Online.
VSSEC is hosting Dr James Green, Chief Scientist of NASA on Wednesday the 5th May, at 10am for a talk about current Mars exploration, Perseverance Rover, the Martian and all things NASA.

Dr Green will talking via Webex teleconference for 45minutes and answering student questions for another 45 minutes after the talk.  The link for the event and registration can be found here.

Dr. Green has a Ph.D in Space Physics and began working with Marshall Flight Centre in 1980.  He developed and managed the Space Physics Analysis network and was head of the National Space Science Data Center at Goddard from 1985 to 1992. Dr. Green was also co-investigator and the Deputy Project Scientist on the Imager for Magnetopause-to-Aurora Global Exploration (IMAGE) mission.  As Director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA headquarters he oversaw the development and deployment of the New Horizons spacecraft flyby of Pluto, the MESSENGER spacecraft to Mercury, the Juno spacecraft to Jupiter, the Grail spacecraft to the Moon, the Dawn spacecraft to Vesta and Ceres, and the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars!


b) VCE lectures, 4:30pm, Wednesdays, University of Melbourne
This series of lectures are held on Wednesdays about once a fortnight at a new time of 4:30pm and because of COVID students need to register to attend and they can also register to access the lectures on-line.  For details of the full program check here.


i) Protecting Astronauts from Ionising Radiation on the Mission to Mars, 4:30pm, Wednesday, 12th May
Speaker: Prof Susanna Guatelli (University of Wollongong and 2021 AIP Women in Physics Lecturer)
Abstract: Human missions to Mars have been identified as a main goal of human exploration by the International Space Exploration Coordination Group. The roadmap to the human exploration of Mars started with the International Space Station mission about twenty years ago and is envisaged to continue with a human outpost on the Moon and finally with a mission to Mars within the next twenty years.

A human mission to Mars would expose astronauts to serious health hazards, including acute and late risks caused by exposure to cosmic radiation, eventually leading to cancer and death. The design of shielding solutions and of powerful and accurate radiation monitoring systems are subjects of research to facilitate the human exploration of the Solar System.

However, the testing of proposed novel technologies on Earth is limited as there is no facility capable of producing the cosmic radiation the astronauts would encounter in space.

So how do we make sure our astronauts will be safe? Professor Guatelli will be taking students through her research here on Earth.

Venue: Medley Theatre/online, Redmond Barry Building, University of Melbourne

To register for audience tickets or to view the lecture online, click here.  Registration is required

Notes from previous lectures on topics including relativity, electricity and nuclear energy from recent years are also available at the website.

c) Girls in STEM: Empowering Curiosity - Friday, 18th June
An event for girls in Years 9 to 10:
  • An opportunity to be inspired by women who have forged impressive careers in STEAM industries.
  • Engage in hands-on activities to stimulate interest and engagement in STEAM based careers.
This event explore females in STEM careers with an emphasis on the importance of mathematics required for success. Students will hear from leading industry experts in a range of fields about their experiences working in a STEM focused career.
Experts will share their stories; the journey they took, the contributions they have made, the impact of being a female, tips for success, and how to overcome obstacles along the way.
The importance of mathematics in VCE subject selection, university degrees and in STEM careers is addressed. An interactive panel discussion follows the individual presentations.
Students will then engage in two hands-on STEM based activities that require students to be curious and creative, delivered by our supporting partners. One activity includes a hands on engineering experience run by 'Engineers without Borders'.
Please note that morning tea is provided. Teachers and students will need to BYO lunch. (Subject to change according to COVID safe plans)
Venue: Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar School 
Cost: $35 /$25 per student. Max 20 students per school
To register: click here . For more information click here

d) Victorian Young Physicists' Tournament - Registrations now open
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.
e) 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) Dinner with Prof Susanna Guatelli, the 2021 AIP Women in Physics lecturer, 6:30pm, 12th May
After her VCE talk, see above, Vicphysics Teachers' Network and the Physics Dept at Melbourne University will be taking Prof Guatelli to dinner nearby.
If you would like to catch up with colleagues face to face and also speak to Prof Guatelli, please email Vicphysics.

b) Big Ideas in Physics: A New Scientist Online Lecture Series
  • How fast is the Universe growing? with Jo Dunkley, 6pm, 6th May. Prof Dunkley is a British astrophysicist and Professor of Physics at Princeton University.
  • How Time Works with Sean Carroll, 6pm, 3rd June. Prof Carroll is a Research Professor at CalTech.
These talks are held at 4:00am Melbourne time, however a ticket purchase gives you on demand access to the lecture and the Q&A session for 12 months.
Individual tickets are £13 (early booking rate) and there is a 25% discount on the series ticket.

  6.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).
a)  Crisis in a lockdown: how NIST coped with a radiation leak
Robert P Crease describes how news of a radiation leak at a US neutron facility was handled in today’s online, networked and locked-down world
On the morning of Wednesday 3 February 2021, the research reactor at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), just outside Washington, DC, was starting to come back online after routine maintenance. Shortly after 9 a.m., however, radiation monitors in the building detected above-normal background radioactivity, consisting of fission fragments from the ruptured cladding of a fuel element. The reactor automatically shut down.

b) How to keep a skipping stone on a steady path across water
The physics that allows spinning stones to skip across the surface of water has been thoroughly analysed by Jie Tang at Southwest Jiaotong University in China and colleagues. The team used theoretical models and simple experiments to identify three key factors underlying the process and their findings could lead to important insights into the dynamics of aircraft and spacecraft that land on water.

Skipping a flat stone across water is one of the simple pleasures of life. With practice, imparting the right combination of throwing angle, speed, and spin will allow the stone to bounce several times before sinking. The physics involved in this process is also highly relevant in ensuring safe water landings for aircraft and re-entering spacecraft, which collide with water surfaces at high speeds.

The article also has a link to the actual research paper.

c) Surprising physics that we depend on for existence
An extensive review of John Gribbin's Seven Pillars of Science: the Incredible Lightness of Ice, and Other Scientific Surprises by Dave Apell
We humans are not blessed with a reliable intuition for the laws of nature. Many of today’s scientific axioms have had to pass through what the British scientist John Haldane once described as the four stages of acceptance for scientific ideas: from nonsense, to interesting but perverse, to true but unimportant, to “I always said so.” In Seven Pillars of Science: the Incredible Lightness of Ice and Other Scientific Surprises, bestselling science author John Gribbin describes seven important founts of scientific wisdom that have passed through these stages of acceptance. Ironically, given the initial scepticism they faced, these “pillars”, as he dubs them, have turned out not only to be true, but also crucial for our own existence, and maybe even life elsewhere in the universe.

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