1. Practical Activities Workshop, Saturday, 28th May
Purpose: Hands on practical activities for VCE Physics, supported and demonstrated by experienced physics teachers. The workshop is nominally targeted at teachers new to teaching physics and those taking Year 12 for the first time or coming back to teaching physics after an absence. However the workshop will have something for everyone.
Venue: The workshop will be held at John Monash Science School on the Clayton campus of Monash University
Time: 10:30am to 2:00pm
Cost: $40. There is a discounted fee of $29 for Vicphysics subscribers. A travel subsidy is available for regional participants.
- A two hour session in which participants will be able to move freely from station to station, talking to the demonstrators and trying our the pracs for themselves. There will be over 10 stations available.
- A one hour session on Designing Assessment Tasks, presented by Dr Barbara McKinnon, President of Vicphysics Teachers’ Network and Sandor Kazi from Melbourne Girls’ College and Treasurer of Vicphysics Teachers’ Network.
To Book: Click here.
2. Physics Gymnasium: Lectures for students - University of Melbourne
Formally known as the VCE lectures, while they do explore the current VCE curriculum, these lectures are open to students of all ages with a keen interest in Physics, as well as teachers and parents
Check here for more details and to book.
- Thursday, 12th May, 5:30pm. Special relativity with Prof David Jamieson
- Future talks on 2nd June, 16th June and 4th August
- Thursday, 18th August, 5:30pm. The photon: a wave or a particle? or both? Prof Harry Quiney
- Thursday, 1st September, 5:30pm. The Future of Optics with Prof Ann Roberts
These are Covid-safe events. The lectures will be delivered to a live audience in the School of Physics. The lectures will also be live streamed. The Zoom link will be sent two days before the lecture.
3. Jumping robot: Mechanical jumper sets height record
Nature’s jumping champions are fleas, which can reach heights that are many times their body size, the record is 66 times. But now, researchers at the University of California have created a jumping machine that outperforms even the flea.
The 30 cm device can reach 30 m. Check out the article and video
4.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:
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.
- Mill Park Secondary College (closes 15th May)
- Craigieburn Secondary College (closes 10th May)
- Lara Secondary College (closes 10th May)
- Subscriptions: Subscriptions will last for a year from the day payment is received. Both individual and school subscriptions are available.
6. Events for Students
- 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.
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:
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.
- 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'
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:
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.
- 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.
The features of the competition are:
Prizes: There is a prize for every student, with major prizes for top place getters and a trophy for the winning team.
- it is team based,
- focused on experimental investigations and
- uses oral presentations.
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:
c) Poster Competition for Unit 2 Practical Investigation
- 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.
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.
7. 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) Seeing the Earth through alien eyes: An extraterrestrial view of our planet
Aliens spying on us from across interstellar space is a classic trope of science fiction. But working out what those extraterrestrials might see if they pointed their telescopes at us could help in our quest for finding life on distant Earth-like planets,
b) Energy can move from a colder region to a hotter one – but the second law of thermodynamics is safe
Can energy move from a colder to a hotter region in a material without violating the second law of thermodynamics? Yes, according to physicists from Trinity College Dublin and the Universidad Complutense of Madrid, who discovered that a quantum effect sometimes forces current to flow around the edges of a sample in a way that opposes the normal direction of heat flow. These “edge currents” are remarkably robust, and the physicists say they could be present in a broader class of range of systems than previously thought. If that is the case, such currents might be used to control heat flow through nanostructures and thus help bring about more energy-efficient computer chips or devices to recycle waste heat.
c) Negative capacitance could make transistors more energy efficient
By exploiting a curious effect called negative capacitance, researchers have designed a transistor that requires a gate voltage about 30% lower than conventional designs.
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