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

More Conference Proceedings: The last newsletter listed workshops for which material was now available on the Vicphysics website. A few more have been added to the list.

Bookings are now open for the Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service on Thursday, 15th April.

The Grade points of last year's physics exam have been added to the spreadsheet on the Vicphysics website with data going back to 1999.  The comparison is interesting.


The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers' Network will be on Wednesday, 10th March at 6:30pm online. 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. 2021 Physics Teachers' Conference, More Conference Proceedings
       2. Grade Points for the 2020 Physics Exam
       3. Beginning Physics Teachers' In-Service, Thursday, 15th April.  Applications are now open.
       4. Vicphysics Subscriptions
       5. Seeking a Physics Teacher? seeking a new position?
       6. Events for Students        7. Events for Teachers
  • Big Ideas in Physics: A New Scientist Online Lecture Series
  • Quantum Computing: A New Scientist Online Lecture
       8. Physics News from the Web 
  • Iridium in undersea crater confirms asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs
  • Monochromatic X-rays could make mammograms safer
  • Ten years after Fukushima: could new fuels make nuclear power safer?
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1. 2021 Physics Teachers' Conference: More Proceedings
Material from the Conference is being put up on the Vicphysics website as it is released by the presenters.  Extra Material from the following workshops can be found here.  The previous newsletter listed the the first batch of 16 presentations.

Note: The Conf webpage is now in the Teachers section of the website, so you will need to be a subscriber to access it, which is different from being on the mailing list for this newsletter, which is open to anyone.

  • A1 Giving Students Choice in Units 1 & 2 Physics, Dr Adele Hudson, Christian Inturrisi, Aitken College
  • B8 VCAA Physics Update, Maria James, Science Manager, VCAA.
  • C7 Instructional Strategies targeting the 3 'L's: Language, Learners and Literacy, Deepa Jain, Kew High School

2. Beginning Physics Teachers' In-Service, Thursday, 15th April.
The venue will be John Monash Science School and this year there will be a small registration fee, $20 for Vicphysics subscribers and $40 for non-subscribers.  The program includes:

  • Hands on opportunity to try a large range of practical activities and demonstrations, supported by experienced teachers,
  • Chief Assessor, Andrew Hansen, providing advice of how to prepare students for the Physics exam,
  • Assessment Ideas with Dr Merryn Dawborn-Gundlach and Dr Syd Boydell from the University of Melbourne,
  • Panel of experienced teachers sharing their ideas and answering questions on course planning, teaching tricky concepts, etc.
A package of course planning material will be provided to each participant..
Lunch, morning and afternoon tea are included.  There will also be a travel subsidy to assist teachers coming from regional areas.

To register click here for the Trybooking site.  There is also an opportunity when registering to add to the program by mentioning areas you would like addressed. Check our website for more details.

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3. Grade Points for the 2020 Physics Exam
The VCAA website provides statistical data on student performance in the VCE and for each subject.  This link is for last year's Physics exam.  It has the number and the percentage of candidates for each letter grade.  There is data by gender as well as total data and there is similar information for the Unit 3 and Unit 4 Coursework.

This exam data is added each year to a spreadsheet, which has been maintained since 1999.  The spreadsheet is on the Vicphysics website at the bottom of the webpage on 'Revision and Exam Solutions' in the 'Teachers' section.

The mean score for the 2020 exam was 58.9%, which is the highest since 2015.  The Grade Point cutoffs for each grade, that is the score required to be awarded the grade, were equal to or higher than any of the cutoffs of the last four years of the current study design and this exam format.  For example for an A+, a combined score from two markings of 227 was required, in 2019 the score was 213.  While for a C, in 2020 a score of 104 was needed, in 2019, 90 and the previous best over the four years was 98 in 2017.  For a D, a grade score of 53 was needed, 8 more than the score for 2019.

Objectively it could be argued that the exam was not an easy exam and it did have its challenges, so perhaps the diligence and tenacity of the 2020 student cohort along with some surgery on the course produced a positive outcome.
Enrolment data for each of the four units is also available on the VCAA website.  This has been analysed to get a sense of the proportion of students doing Unit 2 Physics who continue to do Unit 3 Physics the following year.  The graph to the side provides some good news.

Combining this VCAA data with ABS data on student enrolments, it is possible to determine the proportion of Year 10 students who enrol to do Unit 1 Physics the following year.  The news from this graph is not good with both graphs showing a decline.  The equivalent graph for Chemistry has the proportion of Year 10 students doing Unit 1 Chemistry the following year as being fairly steady at about 20% for both male. and female students. So for male students the current situation is not that bad, but what was happening back in the '90's.  For female students, it is argued that Chemistry, being a specified tertiary prerequisite for a number of biomed courses, is an incentive to do VCE Chemistry.

Further analysis is available on the Vicphysics website under 'Educational Research' under 'Issues'.

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4. Vicphysics Subscriptions
The free introductory offer has now 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.
5. 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 one school seeking a physics teacher:
  • Pascoe Vale Girls Secondary College (10/03/21)
This webpage is updated every weekend.  The webpage also has a link on how schools can register a position and also lodge a payment for this service. 5. Events for Students The dates for this year are Tuesday 9th March through to Friday, 12th March.
The cost is $27.90 per student with teachers free.
The Luna Park website is still taking bookings.  The bookings are strong for each of the four days, but there is capacity, given the large numbers in previous years.
There is also a link on the website if you wish to book a datalogger.

Check our website for worksheets etc.  There will be no aerobatic display this year.

COVID safe: Mask policy - Students should carry a mask as they may be requested to wear it whilst riding, while waiting in queue lines or when enjoying indoor attractions, outlets and facilities. Masks should also be worn when social distancing cannot be achieved throughout the Park grounds.  The contact surfaces on the rides are cleaned after each ride. Surfaces elsewhere in the grounds are also regularly cleaned.
 
6. Events for Teachers
a) Big Ideas in Physics: A New Scientist Online Lecture Series
  • Making Sense of Quantum Theory with Carlo Rovelli, 6pm, 1st April (UK time).  Prof Rovelli is the author of the popular books 'Seven Brief Lessons on Physics and 'Reality is not what it seems'.
  • 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.
  • Ten Keys to Reality with Frank Wilczek, 6pm, 28th January. Prof Wilczek won the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physics
  • How Time Works with Sean Carroll, 6pm, 3rd June. Prof Carroll is a Research Professor at CalTech.
The Rovelli talk will be held at 4:00am Melbourne time on the Friday morning, 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.

b) Quantum Computing: A New Scientist Online Lecture, 6pm 11th March (UK Time)
Prof Michelle Simmons and Prof John Martinis present two 25 min talks plus Q&A on the physics of quantum computers. Prof Simmons is the Director of the Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computer Technology and Communication Technology at UNSW and she was Australian of the Year in 2018.  Prof Martinis is based at University of California.  In 2019 he worked at Google and currently is in Australia working with Michelle.

Tickets are £13 (early booking rate) with on demand access. 7.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).

a) Iridium in undersea crater confirms asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs

Strong evidence that the dinosaurs were killed-off 66 million years ago by an asteroid hitting Earth has been found in Chicxulub crater under the Gulf of Mexico. An international team has measured an abundance of the rare element iridium in the crater and similarly high concentrations of the element are known to occur in sediments laid down at the time of the Cretaceous–Paleogene boundary (K–Pg) extinction event, which saw many species on Earth vanish.

b) Monochromatic X-ray source could make mammograms safer

A monochromatic X-ray source under development for breast cancer screening can produce high-quality phantom images at significantly lower radiation dose and with greater sensitivity than conventional mammography systems. This low-dose technology could represent a paradigm change for mammography, making these exams safer for women by exposing them to less radiation dose and better identifying suspicious abnormalities, especially in dense breasts.

c) Ten years after Fukushima: could new fuels make nuclear power safer?

A decade after the Fukushima disaster, Michael Allen investigates claims from academia and industry that the next generation of nuclear fuels could reduce the risk of similar accidents occurring ever again

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