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

Vicphysics is organising a consultation forum on the draft of the proposed Study Design.
Many teachers have serious concerns about the draft.  If you wish to participate in this online forum, check details below.
The Talk, Dinner and Catching Up networking event has been re-scheduled for 25th August.  For details of the talk and how to book, check below or click here to go to our website.

With Unit 2 getting underway, it is time to promote our competitions to students: the Photo and Video Contests, the Poster Competition and the Victorian Young Physicists' Tournament.

There are two schools seeking physics teachers.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers' Network will be on Wednesday, 16th June at 5:30pm.  It will be an online meeting. 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. Consultation Forum on Proposed VCE Physics Study Design
       2. Talk, Dinner and Catching Up, Weds, 25th August

       3. Seeking a Physics Teacher?, seeking a new position?
       4. Vicphysics Subscriptions
       5. Events for Students        6. Physics News from the Web 
  • WiFi signals used to power small electrical devices
  • Merging nature and engineering: mantis shrimp vision in the operating room
  • Efficient optical rectifying antenna could generate power from waste heat
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1. Consultation Forum on the proposed Study Design
The draft of the proposed Physics Study Design has been released for consultation. Copies of the draft and a summary can be found on the VCAA website and on the Vicphysics website.  There is also a questionnaire on the VCAA site.  Consultation closes on 3rd August.

Vicphysics will be running an online forum on the proposed study design on Tuesday, 29th June, starting at 9:30am. If you would like to participate, please email Vicphysics and the link will be sent to you closer to the day.

Structure of the Forum:
There are a number of significant changes to the study design and many teachers have serious concerns.  To effectively give all participants an opportunity to contribute, the forum will use breakout rooms throughout.
Each breakout session (30 - 45 minutes) will address a specific issue, with each group reporting back before moving on to the next breakout session and the next issue.  Each breakout room will have its own google doc to record its discussion.  A program and time table will be prepared indicating the topic or issue to be considered in each breakout session. This will be distributed in the week before.

Registered participants will be allocated to a particular break out room and they can choose which sessions throughout the day that they wish to contribute to.

The reporting sections will be recorded, while in each breakout room the chat room will be saved by the chair of group.  These and the google docs will be compiled and distributed to participants afterwards.

The Vicphysics Zoom account has a maximum of 100 participants, so if this number is exceeded by Monday, 21st June, a second Zoom forum will be organised for Thursday, 8th July.

We hope teachers will take advantage of this opportunity 

2. Talk, Dinner and Catching Up, 6:00pm, Weds, 25th August

The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network invites physics teachers and others interested in physics education to gather in an informal setting for a series of dinners with a guest speaker. The guest speakers will address diverse topics touching on curriculum, pedagogy and the discipline itself.  Attendees will have the opportunity to engage in discussion and network with colleagues over dinner. 

The first occasion has been re-scheduled to Wednesday, 25th August at the Auburn Hotel at 85 Auburn Rd, Hawthorn starting at 6:00pm.

The speaker will be Dr Victoria Millar from the Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne.

Topic: What is the role of physics education and how does that determine the elements of a physics curriculum?

This is particularly opportune with a revised study design to be implemented in 2023.

Dr Millar is a senior lecturer in the Graduate School of Education and has been at the University since 2011. Prior to that she taught Physics in schools in Victoria. Her research interests are in physics and science education, particularly science participation, curriculum and interdisciplinarity.

The cost is $35 ($30 for Vicphysics subscribers) and covers a main course and drinks.

For more details and to book click here.

3. 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 are two schools seeking a physics teacher:
  • East Doncaster Secondary College (closes 23rd June)
  • Craigieburn Secondary College (closes 21st June) 
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. 4. Vicphysics Subscriptions
The free introductory offer has 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.

a) Photo and Video Contests, Poster Competition
 Photo Contest
The photos should 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
Entry: The photo must be submitted as an email attachment and accompanied by a statement of 250 words or less describing the physics in the photo and must be written by the entrant. 
Entrants may submit more than one photo, however each entrant can receive only one prize.  More details about the Contest Rules and Entry Agreement can be found here.
Closing Date: Photos will be accepted until the first Friday of Term 4.

Video Contest
The contest is open to students in Victorian schools.  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.   Students could use the videos by Dr Derek Muller, as a guide to how to structure a video. His videos can be found at his website, Veritasium.
Prize pool: up to $1000
Advice and information about the contest rules and entry agreement can be found here
Entry: The video may not be longer than three minutes in length.  Professional editing is not required.  Please note: Unsafe practices will not be accepted. 
Closing Date:  The first Friday of Term 4.

Poster Competition for Unit 2 Practical Investigation
Unit 2 of the VCE Physics Study Design includes an Area of Study titled 'Practical Investigation'. Each student "develops a question to investigate, plans a course of action that attempts to answer the question, undertakes an investigation to collect data, organises and interprets the data, and reaches a conclusion in response to the question." The student can present their findings as a poster.
To encourage students to undertake topics of some depth, to design effective experimental designs and then thoroughly analyse their data, the Vicphysics Teachers' Network is offering up to 10 prizes for posters that exemplify quality investigations.
Lists of possible topics and templates for the design of the poster are available here.
Prizes: Each prize will be a book voucher for $100. There will be a maximum of 10 prizes.
Criteria: Each prize winner must satisfy all of the following criteria:

  • an innovative topic
  • a comprehensive set of variables are identified
  • a detailed procedure
  • precise measurements across wide range of values
  • a thorough data analysis
  • an insight into the physical meaning of the results
  • an effective communication design to the poster
Entries must be submitted as a one page pdf.  They must be sent as an email attachment by the teacher to Vicphysics by the second Friday of Term 4, with the email providing:
  • student's name
  • title of investigation
  • Teacher's name
  • Teacher's email address
  • School name

There is a maximum of two prizes per school.  For a copy of the flyer and more details and examples of previous entries.

b) Victorian Young Physicists' Tournament - Registrations now open
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 Sunday, 12th 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 2021 are:

  • 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.
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.

The features of the competition are:
  • it is team based,
  • focused on experimental investigations and
  • uses oral presentations.
Prizes: There is a prize for every student, with major prizes for top place getters and a trophy for the winning team.
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 23rd 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.
Live-Streaming: Vicphysics has received funding from Inspiring Victoria to enable one of the contests in each round to be streamed. The registration form includes a section on approval to be part of the live streaming.

For further details, there are four relevant webpages on the Vicphysics website:
  • 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.
c) The Exciton Solar Cell Challenge
The special features of the Exciton Solar Cell Challenge are:
  • It is an experimental challenge for Year 7-10 students in teams of 2 - 3.
  • Students construct their own Dye Sensitised Solar Cell (DSSC) using a dye they source.
  • Kits are sent to schools and students complete the challenge with teacher support (20 free kits per school, extra kits are $20 each) and then send in evidence of experimentation.
  • This challenge is best for extension groups and STEM clubs.
  • Prizes and certificates are sent to students upon challenge completion.
  • The challenge is running through Terms 2-4 this year with a very flexible timeline.
The website has sections about key dates, information for teachers, digital copy of resources and a registration link.  The kits sent to the schools has the two more difficult to acquire materials, the rest are common science equipment and chemicals.

When you register you can request a researcher to present an introductory zoom lesson (30 mins) for the students.
6.   Physics News from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).

a) WiFi signals used to power small electrical devices
Ambient WiFi signals can be used to power small electrical devices such as LEDs, researchers in Singapore and Japan have shown. Hyunsoo Yang at the National University of Singapore and colleagues have developed a new way of connecting tiny microwave oscillators, allowing them to charge a capacitor that can then drive devices such as remote sensors. The research could also lead to the development of circuits that mimic the nervous system.
WiFi is ubiquitous in buildings and a growing number of public spaces, which are awash with 2.4 GHz microwaves used to exchange data. While this provides Internet access for the masses, large amounts of microwave energy goes to waste.

b) Merging nature and engineering: mantis shrimp vision in the operating room

Surgeons performing operations may orient themselves in the human body using sight and touch, but human senses can’t isolate things like small groups of cancer cells. Researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign tackled this challenge by developing a new image sensor that supplements a surgeon’s sight – and it’s based on how mantis shrimp see the world.
Mantis shrimp have the most complex visual systems ever studied (they even hold a world record). Their compound eyes have three layers of photoreceptor cells, and each layer responds to a slightly different wavelength of light. All in all, mantis shrimp have up to 16 different types of photoreceptors.

Humans, by contrast, have only three colour vision photoreceptors (red, green, blue) that respond to visible light. To accommodate human vision, conventional image sensors often separate a single layer of photosensitive material into sections. Since each section is sensitive to a different wavelength of light, how much a surgeon sees using a camera – and the resolution of the images produced – is limited by how many sections an image sensor has.

c) Efficient optical rectifying antenna could generate power from waste heat

Devices known as optical rectennas show considerable promise for renewable energy because they can harvest energy from heat and convert it into electricity. Their chief drawback is their low efficiency, which makes them impractical for large-scale use. Researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder, US have now found a way to boost this efficiency, paving the way for optical rectennas that can generate useful amounts of electrical power from waste heat.

Rectennas (short for rectifying antennas) consist of two parts: an antenna, which absorbs electromagnetic radiation, and a diode, which converts the absorbed energy into direct current. Optical rectennas, which convert electromagnetic fields at optical frequencies into electrical current, work most efficiently when made on the micron or sub-micron scales, which is much smaller than devices that convert longer-wavelength radiation such as radio waves. The problem is that as these devices shrink, their electrical resistance grows, thus drastically limiting their power output.

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Our mailing address is:

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