Vicphysics Teachers' Network Inc.
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Three students from John Monash Science School are in the five member Australian team that will be competing at the International Young Physicists' Tournament in Poland later this year.  Read about how they won their spot.

There are five Girls in Physics Breakfasts across Victoria in May, there is sure to be one near you.

This newsletter has an impressive article by Paul Davies exploring the links between Quantum Physics and DNA in 'What is Life?'  plus an opportunity to preview the new road safety excursion at the Melbourne Museum and another amusement park event is on offer, this time at Gumbuya Park in Gippsland and organised by Ciderhouse.   Also a school is seeking a physics teacher urgently.


The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers' Network will be on Thursday, 9th May at Melbourne Girls' College starting at 5:00pm. Teachers are welcome to these meetings. If you wish to come, please email Vicphysics

Frances Sidari (Pres), Jane Coyle (Vice-Pres), Dan O'Keeffe (Sec) and Terry Tan (Treas)
 
Table of Contents
  1. Victorian students to compete at International Physics Event
  2. Outreach Workshops at La Trobe University
  3. Road to Zero: Education Experience,  Museum Victoria, Launch 4:30pm, 26th March
  4. Physics position at Mornington Peninsula School
  5. Events for Students and the General Public
  6. Events for Teachers
        7. Physics News from the Web
          a) What is Life? Paul Davies in The Monthly
          b) Modernising Classical Physics
          c) Structural capacitors prepare for takeoff
1. Victorian students to compete at International Physics Event
Three students from John Monash Science School, along with a student from The Hutchins School in Tasmania and another from Brisbane Girls' Grammar School will be the Australian team to compete in the International Young Physicists' Tournament (IYPT) in Poland in July this year.
The students from JMSS were the winning team in the Australian Young Physicists' Tournament held in Brisbane last December.

The purpose of IYPT is to develop scientific thinking, research skills, communication skills and teamwork.The teams conduct extended experimental investigations into a selection of common topics and then present their findings to other teams and also challenge the findings of other teams. 
A set of 17 topics are released in August. A subset of 7 are selected for the Australian competition from which each team researched 3. In preparation for the international competition, the Australian team will experimentally research the other topics so that they have a total of 14 topics covered.

The IYPT topics make excellent topics for the Unit 2 and Unit 4 practical investigations.
Some topics from the current competition are:
  • Looping Pendulum. Connect two loads, one heavy and one light, with a string over a horizontal rod and lift up the heavy load by pulling down the light one. Release the light load and it will sweep around the rod, keeping the heavy load from falling to the ground. Investigate this phenomenon.
  • Funnel and ball. A light ball (e.g. ping-pong ball) can be picked up with a funnel by blowing air through the funnel. Explain the phenomenon and investigate the relevant parameters
  • Newton's Cradle. The oscillations of a Newton’s cradle will gradually decay until the spheres come to rest. Investigate how the rate of decay of a Newton’s cradle depends on relevant parameters such as the number, material, and alignment of the spheres.
  • Icy Pole Chain Reaction.  Wooden icy pole sticks can be joined together by slightly bending each of them so that they interlock in a so-called “cobra weave” chain. When such a chain has one of its ends released, the sticks rapidly dislodge, and a wave front travels along the chain. Investigate the phenomenon.
  • Hurricane Balls. Two steel balls that are joined together can be spun at incredibly high frequency by first spinning them by hand and then blowing on them through a tube, e.g. a drinking straw. Explain and investigate this phenomenon.
  • Sci-Fi Sound. Tapping a helical spring can make a sound like a “laser shot” in a science-fiction movie. Investigate and explain this phenomenon.
  • Gyroscopic Teslameter. A spinning gyroscope made from a conducting, but nonferromagnetic material slows down when placed in a magnetic field. Investigate how the deceleration depends on relevant parameters.
For a list of topics from recent Tournaments, check the Unit 2 AoS page or the Unit 4 AoS page under Resources. 2. Outreach Workshops at La Trobe University
La Trobe University offers workshops at the Bendigo and Melbourne campuses on:
  • Unit 1: Radioactivity
  • Unit 3: Transmission of Electric Power
  • Unit 4: Photoelectric Effect.
The cost is $15 per student and each session runs for two hours. For more details, check their presentation at the Physics Teachers' Conference for session C14 or their website. 3. Road to Zero: Education Experience, Melbourne Museum, 4:30pm, 26th March
Melbourne Museum have launched new curriculum-aligned programs for Year 9 and 10 Science and Health, and VCAL
They invite teachers to a preview event on Tuesday, 26th March, 4.30-6:00pm, where you can test this world class educational facility before you bring in your students.
 This is a free event but BOOKINGS ARE ESSENTIAL.
 More information
Road to Zero provides an engaging and immersive exploration of the scientific principles of road safety and public health campaign development using the latest technologies. The programs are specifically designed to address the Victorian Science and Health & PE curriculum for Year 9, 10 and VCAL.
 
The experience allows students to work out for themselves (in a safe environment) why bodies aren’t built to survive the impact of severe crashes and how we can create a safer future.
 The preview event will include:
  • A guided tour of the recently opened Road to Zero Experience Space and opportunity to ‘test’ the high-tech activities.
  • See the modern Learning Studios where students can reflect on their learning and apply it to curriculum-linked activities.
  • Learn about pre- and post-visit lesson plans and worksheets that support Road to Zero excursions.
  • Opportunity to network and socialise with peers and learning specialists.
 All participants will receive a complimentary IMAX Melbourne voucher to watch a film later in the evening. 4.  Physics position at a Mornington Peninsula School
Mount Eliza Secondary College is seeking a physics teacher for an immediate start.  It can be part time or full time with both a Year 11 and 12 class and some maths and general science.
If you are interested, please contact the Principal, Angela Pollard on 9787 6288.
5.    Events for Students and the General Public
a) Friday, 29th March: Watching a Little Gas Cloud on its Way into the Galactic Supermassive Black Hole  6:30pm, Swinburne University
Speaker: Prof Andreas Burkert, Ludwig Maximalians University, Munich
Venue: Swinburne University, Hawthorn campus, ATC building, ATC101 (Enter from Burwood Road)
Map: http://www.swinburne.edu.au/media/swinburneeduau/about-swinburne/docs/pdfs/hawthorn-map.pdf
Registration and Details: For further information and registration, please click here.


b) Girls in Physics Breakfasts in 2019
This year there will be two extra country breakfasts, in Warrnambool and Wodonga.
The dates, venues, speakers and topics are:
  • 22nd March, Ballarat Speaker: Dr Dianne Ruka, Monash University, Topic: Future Computing and Low Energy Electronics. Fully Booked
  • 3rd May, Geelong Speaker: Dr Ellen Moon, Deakin University, Topic: Science in the Antarctic: Where can STEM take you?
  • 10th May, Warrnambool Speaker: Dr Gail Iles, RMIT, Topic: Human spaceflight and science in space
  • 17th May, Bendigo Speaker: Dr Judy Hart, University of  New South Wales, Topic: Developing new materials for renewable energy
  • 24th May, Wodonga Speaker Dr Adelle Wright, ANU, Topic: Nuclear Fusion: An Australian Perspective
  • 30th May, Melbourne Speaker: Dr Susie Sheehy, University of Melbourne and Oxford University, Topic: Colliding worlds: Using particle physics to cure cancer.
  • Late July, Clayton The date, venue and speaker are yet to be finalised.

For more details including flyers and how to book please go to the Vicphysics webpage

c) 8th May, Amusement Park Physics Day, 10am - 2pm, Gumbuya World
Ciderhouse is organising a physics day at Gumbuya World at Tynong North in Gippsland.
Cost: Students: $39 includes admission, rides and lunch
          Teachers: $12 includes admission, tea and coffee and lunch
There are also professional development sessions on i) electronic data analysis by Doug Bail (90 min) and ii) e-learning by Pearson Publishing.
For more details and to book click here and then click "Gumbuya World bookings'
6.     Events for Teachers
a) Monday, 8th April: Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service, Kew High School

Vicphysics will be running a full day in-service on Monday, 8th April at Kew High School.  The event is free, lunch is provided and travel support is available for country participants. 
 The event is for:

  • Teachers beginning their teaching career,
  • Teachers returning to physics teaching and
  • Teachers who have been asked by their school to take a VCE Physics class
 The program will include:
  • Information on course planning, resources, advice of teaching specific topics and suggestions from some of last year's participants after teaching physics for the first time in 2018,
  • Andrew Hansen, Chief Assessor for the Physics exam, from Ringwood Secondary College on Exam advice.

To register please complete the details on this Vicphysics webpage. . It also has information about last year's program.

7.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletins of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.
a) What is Life? by Paul Davies in The Monthly.
This is an extended article by physicist, Paul Davies, exploring the links between Quantum Physics, Thermodynamics,  Information theory and DNA. The article is in The Monthly which allows new readers access to one free article a month. The article begins by referring to Erwin Schrodinger's famous book of the same title.

b) Modernising Classical Physics

Physics education has a high inertia towards change. While high-school students in today’s biology labs are doing genetic engineering and making bacteria glow green, while students in physics labs are still dropping lead weights and finding differences of squares almost the same way as Galileo did back in 1610. Even as undergraduates, physicists end up learning about topics that were last researched seriously about 100 years ago. The time is overdue for the physics curriculum to catch up with the times.

Open any textbook on modern physics and you will see chapters on the usual topics: special relativity, quantum mechanics, atomic physics, nuclear physics, solid-state physics, particle physics and astrophysics. Missing, however, are modern topics in dynamics that most physicists will use in their careers such as nonlinearity, chaos, network theory, econophysics, game theory, neural nets and curved geometry among many others.

c) Structural capacitors prepare for takeoff
Energy-storage devices that perform multiple functions, such as powering a vehicle and letting it withstand mechanical loads, offer several potential benefits, as Natasha Shirshova explains

Consider an electric car. Whether your image is of a Nissan Leaf, a Tesla Model S or a BMW i3, such vehicles essentially consist of two main parts. There is an electrical part (the battery and the motor) and a structural part (the body of the car). The battery’s only job is to store and distribute electrical energy. Its structural function, as far as it has one, depends solely on the properties of its casing and is generally limited to protecting the battery itself. The car body, meanwhile, provides structural integrity but stores no electrical energy. In some circumstances, however, it may be possible (and indeed desirable) to combine these two aspects into a single material – one that can perform both structural and energy-storage functions.

As their name suggests, such multifunctional structural materials simultaneously carry out two or more functions that would normally have to be addressed separately. For example, a structural role might combine with optical, electrical, magnetic or thermal properties. In some cases, entire complex devices can be built either within or from the primary structural material.

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