6. Physics from the Web
1. Vicphysics Webinar: Friday 10th July
Vicphysics will hold a webinar on planning for the second half of 2020. It is primarily designed for teachers taking either Unit 2 or Unit 4 for the first time, but given the curriculum changes it may be of interest to others. It will be on Friday, 10th July and run from 9:30am to 12:30pm.
The program will cover:
The program will be provided by Jane Coyle, Dr Barbara McKinnon and other members of the Vicphysics Committee.
- Teaching the adjusted Unit 4 and Unit 2 Areas of Study
- Practical Activities and the Practical Investigation in Units 2 and 4
- Possible assessment tasks and
- Managing the Unit 2 Detailed Studies.
To register, to raise any specific questions you would like addressed and for more details, you will need to go to our website. If you wish to attend in person you can indicate that when you register, however space is limited. The venue is Monash Tech School at the Clayton Campus of Monash University.
2. More Resources on Managing Learning when Schools are closed
These resources plus all those listed in previous newsletters are now on a separate web page and there is a direct link to the page from our home page.
- Optics4Kids is a website of the American Optical Society which has a diverse range of resources for students of all ages.. It features simple experiments for students to do at home, an extensive video library and useful history and careers sections. The optical illusions page is extensive with an impressive refraction effect at the bottom of the list.
- The Physics Front is the teaching resources page for the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT). There much classroom material on all physics topics and pitched at differnet levels. There are also links to PhET simulations, Interactive Video Vignettes and Physlets. The 'For New Teachers' section is also very thorough.
- Science Journal - The Google App. This app enables students to record observations, etc. There is a Teachers' section, but it is largely promotional.
- Adobe Scanner app to convert photos to pdf (free). The AAPT newsletter about online teaching resources also included this item.
The Online Learning webpage will be updated as new resources are identified. If you find any, please pass the details to Vicphysics.
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- Dr Katie Mack (2017). Dr Mack spoke on Dark Matter at the two Girls in Physics Breakfasts and at the Science Day in Bendigo. In 2018 she moved back to the US and is Ass't Professor at North Carolina University. As announced in an earlier newsletter, Dr Mack gave an online lecture at the Perimeter Institute on 6th May, titled 'The End of the Universe'. It is now available here. Dr Mack has also written a major article on this topic in New Scientist, which can be accessed here.
- Professor Tanya Monro (2007). In 2007 Prof Monro was Director of the Centre of Expertise in Photonics at Adelaide University, undertaking ground breaking research in the use of optical fibres for sensing with applications in medicine, defence and optical data processing. Last year she was appointed Chief Defence Scientist at Defence Science and Technology (formerly DSTO). Last week she gave a talk at the National Press Club on DST in which she describes their work in the areas of i) Space for global communication, position navigation and geospatial intelligence, ii) Information warfare capabilities, iii) Quantum technologies, iv) Weapon technologies, v) Data analytics and vi) Remote Undersea Surveillance. The program will be of interest to those thinking of a career in defence or technology in general.
4. Teacher Survey on Teacher well-being and Career decisions
The Melbourne Graduate School of Education is conducting a study looking at teacher well being and careers decisions with the aims of reducing teacher burnout and turnover.
If you are a teacher or ex-teacher, they would value your insights into what influenced your career decisions. It is an anonymous 15-20 minute online survey. The aggregated findings will be presented to the Department of Education and Training at the end of the year as part of the 'Strengthening Teachers' Initiative.
They hope to gain a strong representative sample of current and ex-teachers from all subject areas, experience levels and early-learning, primary or secondary levels. The link below can be shared with friends and colleagues who you think may have insights to share. All responses are greatly appreciated.
The Plain Language Statement and survey are accessible here or here. Further information can be obtained by contacting Hugh Gundlach.
5. Events for Students and General Public
a) UNSW Bragg Prize for Science Writing for Years 7 - 10. Entries close 27th August.
The 2020 Theme is 'The Big Ideas saving the Planet'.
Students write up to 800 words to describe some scientific research that has delivered a solution that the student believes could change the future for the planet.
This website has entry details, as well as FAQs, Teacher's resources and Writing tips.
b) Big Science Competition - Revamped for online.
The Big Science Competition now has flexible options: i) student access from school or home, ii) extended competition window from 20th May to 5th June.
The Competition is for students in Years 7 to 10. It is a '50 minute multiple choice competition testing critical thinking and problem-solving skills, not just factual recall'. The cost to participate online is $7.00 and $8.00 for a pen and paper test. Parents cannot register their children, it needs to be through the school.
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) Artificial eye has the potential to outperform the human vision
An artificial device that closely mimics the structure and function of the human eye has been unveiled by Leilei Gu and colleagues at The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology. The team based its design around a hemispherical arrangement of light-sensitive nanowires, which imitate photoreceptor cells in the human retina. Their device has the potential to produce images at higher resolutions than the human eye and could lead to significant new advances in robotics.
b) Nano-optomechanical resonator detects low-frequency bacteria vibrations
Researchers in Spain and France have measured the vibrations of individual bacteria by coupling them to a nanomechanical device with a similar resonance frequency. This new optomechanical spectrometry technique could offer an alternative to current methods of detecting and classifying bacteria and other biological particles.
Proteins, viruses and bacteria all vibrate at frequencies in the terahertz and gigahertz range. Their vibrations carry valuable information about their structure and mechanical properties, but efforts to study these using optical inelastic scattering techniques are extremely challenging because the bioparticles change shape and deform as they vibrate.
c) Kondo effect induces giant negative thermal expansion
Most metals expand when heated and contract when cooled. A few metals, however, do the opposite, exhibiting what’s known as negative thermal expansion (NTE). A team of researchers led by Ignace Jarrige and Daniel Mazzone of Brookhaven National Laboratory in the US has now found that in one such metal, yttrium-doped samarium sulphide (SmS), NTE is linked to a quantum many-body phenomenon called the Kondo effect. The work could make it possible to develop alloys in which positive and negative expansion cancel each other out, producing a composite material with a net-zero thermal expansion – a highly desirable trait for applications in aerospace and other areas of hi-tech manufacturing.