Vicphysics Teachers' Network Inc.
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The next Physics event is the Beginning Physics Teachers' In-Service for first year outs, those returning to teaching physics and out-of-field teachers who have been asked by their school to take physics.

The grade distributions for last year's exam and school assessments have been released.  The data is useful in evaluating the exam and the students' VCE experience.

The important work by Colin Hopkins in packaging past exam paper questions is mentioned again for those who missed it.


There are two schools seeking physics teachers.

The article on using synchrotron radiation to produce a 'Google map' of the human body is fascinating.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics committee will be on Wednesday, 6th April online at 5:30pm.  If you wish to attend please email Vicphysics.


Dr Barbara McKinnon (Pres), Jane Coyle (Vice-Pres), Dan O'Keeffe OAM (Sec) and Sandor Kazi (Treas),

Table of Contents
       1. Beginning Physics Teachers' In-Service, Monday, 11th April at John Monash Science School
       2. Past Papers Packaged by Colin Hopkins
       3. Update on Participation in VCE Physics: Latest Figures and Grade Distributions
       4. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin: The woman who found hydrogen in the stars
       5. Mildred Dresselhaus: A giant of nanoscience

       6. A Survey: Supporting Physics in Years 7 - 10 Science
       7. Vicphysics matters
  • Subscriptions
  • Tutor Listing Service
       8.  Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a new position? (2 positions)
       9. Events for Students
  • Moon Camp Challenge
      10. Events for Teachers
  • New Scientist Online talks on Physics: What We Don't Know about Gravity
       11. Physics News from the Web 
  • Drawing up a 'Google Earth' of the human body
  • Ukraine crisis: updates on the response from the physics and astronomy community
  • Hollywood disaster movies: What they signal abut science
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1. Beginning Physics Teachers' In-Service, Monday, 11th April at John Monash Science School
The Beginning Physics Teachers' In-Service will be held during the Term 1 holidays on Monday, 11th April. 
The program will include:

  • Practical activities demonstrated by experienced teachers,
  • Session on teaching techniques with Colin Hopkins,
  • Session on designing SACs and assessment tasks with Jane Coyle along with
  • a presentation by the Chief Assessor, Andrew Hansen, on preparing students for the VCE Physics exam.

The event is not only for first year out teachers, but it will be of value for those coming back to teaching physics after an absence and for out-of-field teachers have been asked by their school to take physics.

Cost: $40 which includes lunch. ($20 for Vicphysics subscribers).  A travel allowance is available for regional participants.

Information about the program and the link to register can be found here.

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2.  Past Papers Packaged by Colin Hopkins
Colin Hopkins OAM has been collecting Victorian physics exam papers for a number of decades. He also has a large number of exam papers from other states.
In recent years Colin has provided selected extracts from these papers for various physics topics and provided them to beginning physics teachers who requested his support.
He has now processed the full set of questions, allocating them to specific topics, for example Newton’s Laws and coding each question for the type of question as to whether it is multiple choice, calculation or an explanation question.
He is very kindly making this extensive resource available to Vicphysics subscribers. The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network is very appreciative of Colin’s tireless efforts in supporting physics teachers and his generosity in providing this material. 
The questions for each topic are in a separate file in Word for easy cutting and pasting by teachers.
Each file includes:

  • An Introductory table (see example below) with columns for
    • Question number in order in this file
    • Source and Year,
    • Multiple choice with the question number in the actual paper, which is the link to the question,
    • Short Answer with the question number in the actual paper, which is the link to the question,
    • Concept or idea, e.g. Newton’s 3rd Law or connected bodies,
    • Number of marks,
    • The average score on the question as a percentage and
    • Type of question from Explanation, Calculation or Conceptual
  • The questions in number order
  • Solutions in number order in two column format.
No Paper Multiple Choice Short Answer Idea Marks % Type
1 2021   4 Newton’s 3rd law 2 NA Explanation
2 2021   8a Fnet = ma 3 NA Calculation
3 2021 NH   8a Inclined plane, draw forces 3 NA Concept
5 2020 9   Newton’s 3rd law 1 49% Explanation

Each Area of Study has its own webpage. Subscribers can click here to access the resources.  The 'Past Papers Packaged by Colin Hopkins' webpage is in the 'Teachers' section, under 'Revision and Exams'.

 
3. Update on Participation in VCE Physics and Grade Distributions
The previous edition of this newsletter included analysis on the participation in VCE Physics.  It was based on two VCAA documents Enrolments and Satisfactory Completion numbers for Units 1 to 4  and the Grade Distributions for  VCE physics for 2021.

There was no link provided then to the second document as the document was withdrawn from the VCAA website the day before the newsletter was emailed.  The document is now available on the website.  Comparing the current version to data extracted from the original, it is clear that the original was withdrawn because some of the data was incorrect.  So the graph on participation in the last newsletter is inaccurate in regard to 2021 data, while the graphs on retention from Year 10 to Unit 1 and from Unit 2 to Unit 3 are correct.


Looking at the Grade Distributions for last year, the results not only reflect the perception of the exam, but also the experience of the students doing the VCE with COVID.  The mean score was 130.1 out of 260 (based on double marking), This figure of 50% is the lowest mean since the end of year exam returned in 2013. Previous means averaged 56%.

The A+ cutoff was 208/260 and for A it was 182/260.  Compared with recent years the marks to get grades of A+ to B were about 7 - 9 marks less.  


These data values have been added to an historical spreadsheet of the grade distributions for each year back to 1999.  This file can be accessed here. It is in the Teachers section for subscribers under 'Revision and Exams'.

The corrected graphs and those of other VCE Sciences and Maths subjects are discussed on the Vicphysics website here.
 
4. Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin: the woman who found hydrogen in the stars
An article in Physics World on Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin.
How did we learn that hydrogen is a widespread and fundamental component of the universe? Not enough people know that the cosmic importance of hydrogen was first grasped by a young PhD student, Cecilia Payne (Payne-Gaposchkin after she married), who in 1925 discovered hydrogen in the stars. Indeed, she earned a PhD at a time when it was still extremely difficult for women to do so, and did breakthrough research for her thesis. For all the success of her science, her story also demonstrates the barriers and sexism that made it difficult for women to fulfil their scientific aspirations, and affected their careers throughout.
5.Mildred Dresselhaus: a giant of nanoscience
A review of a recent biography of Dresselhaus.
Mildred Dresselhaus, materials-science pioneer and nanotechnology trailblazer, should be a household name. Her contributions to science were immense: unravelling the electronic structure of carbon and paving the way for the discovery of fullerenes, carbon nanotubes and graphene.
She was the first woman to be appointed Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which is the highest title that is awarded there. She was also the first woman to win a National Medal of Science in the category of engineering (awarded by the US president) 
6.A Survey: Supporting Physics in Years 7 – 10 Science
A team of researchers: Dr Victoria Millar and Dr Merryn Dawborn-Gundlach (the University of Melbourne), Dr Jared Carpendale (Massey University), Dr John Cripps-Clark (Deakin University) and Dr Bec Cooper (Monash University) are conducting a joint project about the teaching and learning of physics in Years 7-10 in Victoria.

They are inviting teachers to take part in the project.
 
They are seeking the views of practising science and physics teachers on the teaching of Year 7 – 10 physics topics. Additionally, they are exploring the role that physics teachers have on the design and support of physics-based units in these years.

If you are keen to be involved please complete this survey.

 
7. Vicphysics matters
  • Subscriptions: Subscriptions will last for a year from the day payment is received. Both individual and school subscriptions are available.
  • 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.
8.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 two (2) schools seeking a physics teacher:
  • Upwey High School (closes 15th March)
  • Lara Secondary College (closes 14th March)
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.
9. Events for Students
 Moon Camp Challenge
Moon Camp is an education project run in collaboration between European Space agency (ESA ) and the Airbus Foundation, in partnership with Autodesk. Students are challenged to design their own Moon settlement with the free 3D modelling tool, Tinkercad.  It features preparatory classroom activities that focus on learning by design and science experimentation.
There are three levels of challenge from beginner to advanced for students from upper primary to senior secondary, with at least two levels available to any student.
Students can compete in teams of up to 6.
Registrations opened last year and entries are due by 21st April, 2022.
10. Events for Teachers
Online Lecture: What We Don't Know about Gravity
Abstract: We are all familiar with the concept of gravity, from the force that keeps us firmly on the ground, to the phenomenon that explains the orbits of the planets in the Solar System and the whole structure of our Universe. But what exactly is gravity? Is it a force? Is it the manifestation of the Curvature of spacetime?

Professor Claudia de Rham from Imperial College London, will explore how much we actually know about gravity and how much more there is left to uncover.

The New Scientist is holding a series of on-line lectures 'The Big Thinkers'.  They can be viewed live if the time is convenient or viewed later anytime during 2022.
This lecture is on Thursday, 31st March, 6pm BST and on demand (Victoria will be 11 hours ahead)
Cost 15 pounds for a single lecture, 80 pounds for the series of 8 lectures.
For more details click here.

Other lectures in the series are:
  • Physics at the end of the universe with Katie Mack, 28th AprilKatie will be known to those who attended a Girls in Physics Breakfast in 2017.  Katie was the AIP Women in Physics lecturer that year.
  • A brief history of timekeeping with Chad Orzel , 12th May
11.   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) Drawing up a ‘Google Earth’ of the human body

Clinical computed tomography (CT), which uses X-rays to build up 3D images slice by slice, is restricted to millimetre resolution. So too is magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which peers inside the body using magnetic fields and radio waves. Microscopy of biopsies, meanwhile, is usually limited to millimetre-sized volumes. The dream of seeing an organ – or the entire human body – with micron or near-micron resolution has simply been out of the question, whether you are a specialist or not.

Not any more. For the last two years, dozens of scientists in Europe have been busy compiling the most detailed 3D views of real organs ever seen: the Human Organ Atlas,
b) Ukraine crisis: updates on the response from the physics and astronomy community
c) Hollywood disaster movies: what they signal about science
Robert P Crease wonders what lessons we can learn from movies about comets and asteroids heading towards Earth

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