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

The Victorian Young Physicists' Tournament returns in 2021 with enhancements.

VCE Lectures for students continue.


There is a  Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service on Thursday, 15th April at John Monash Science School.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers' Network will be on Wednesday, 5th May at 5:30pm. 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. Victorian Young Physicists' Tournament returns
       2. More resources from AAPT
  • Star Spectra Science
       3. Vicphysics Subscriptions
       4. Seeking a Physics Teacher? seeking a new position?
       5. Events for Students
  • VCE Lectures for students, University of Melbourne.
  • Girls in STEM: Empowering Curiosity - Friday, 18th June
       6. Events for Teachers
  • Beginning Physics Teachers' In-Service, Thursday, 15th April
  • Big Ideas in Physics: A New Scientist Online Lecture Series
       7. Physics News from the Web 
  • Nanoparticle-based vaccine offers new approach to COVID-19 immunity
  • Changing ideas on the quark model of the proton
  • Digging up magnetic clues: archeology sheds light on magnetic moments of the past.
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1. Victorian Young Physicists' Tournament returns in 2021
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 will open at the beginning of Term 2 and will close on 23rd July. 
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.

For further details, there are four relevant webpages on the Vicphysics website:
  • For general information,
  • For teachers 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.
2. More Resources from AAPT
  • Star Spectra Science.  This AAPT Digi Kit provides links to digital simulations, spectral analysis data, digital labs on cosmic spectra and atomic emission spectra, and background information on star classification systems, the role of energy in emission and absorption phenomena, and instruments used for detection of star spectra. The material is organised under lessons, simulations, activities, animations, spectroscopic data and tutorials.
3. 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.
4. 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 four physics teachers:
  • Virtual School Victoria 2 positions (22/03/21)
  • Melton Secondary College 2 positions (25/03/21)
This 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.
a) VCE lectures, 4:30pm, Wednesdays, University of Melbourne
This series of lectures has started.  They will be held on Wednesdays about once a fortnight at a new time of 4:30pm and because of COVID students need to register to attend and they can also register to access the lectures on-line.  For details of the full program check here.


i) Resistance is futile, 4:30pm, Wednesday 31st March
Speaker: Dr Stephan Rachel
Abstract: From simple electrical circuits (e.g. a battery connected to a light bulb) to one of the most fascinating states of quantum matter, a superconductor, we will discuss the role of resistance and how these things react to the presence of a magnetic field.

Venue: Redmond Barry Building, Tin Alley, University of Melbourne
To register for audience tickets or to view the lecture online, click here . Registration is required

ii) Glow in the dark: Using fluorescence to observe DNA in a living cell, 4:30pm, Wednesday, 21st April
Speaker: Dr Liz Hinde
Abstract: Dr Hinde explores how we are using fluorescence microscopy methods to visualise how molecules move throughout the 3D DNA network of a living cell. Plus lots of Glow in the Dark demonstrations!

Venue: Lowe Theatre, Redmond Barry Building, Tin Alley, University of Melbourne
To register for audience tickets or to view the lecture online, click here . Registration is required

Notes from previous lectures on topics including relativity, electricity and nuclear energy from recent years are also available at the website.

b) Girls in STEM: Empowering Curiosity - Friday, 18th June
An event for girls in Years 9 to 10:
  • An opportunity to be inspired by women who have forged impressive careers in STEAM industries.
  • Engage in hands-on activities to stimulate interest and engagement in STEAM based careers.
This event explore females in STEM careers with an emphasis on the importance of mathematics required for success. Students will hear from leading industry experts in a range of fields about their experiences working in a STEM focused career.
Experts will share their stories; the journey they took, the contributions they have made, the impact of being a female, tips for success, and how to overcome obstacles along the way.
The importance of mathematics in VCE subject selection, university degrees and in STEM careers is addressed. An interactive panel discussion follows the individual presentations.
Students will then engage in two hands-on STEM based activities that require students to be curious and creative, delivered by our supporting partners. One activity includes a hands on engineering experience run by 'Engineers without Borders'.
Please note that morning tea is provided. Teachers and students will need to BYO lunch. (Subject to change according to COVID safe plans)
Venue: Ivanhoe Girls' Grammar School 
Cost: $35 /$25 per student. Max 20 students per school
To register: click here . For more information click here
5. Events for Teachers
a)  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.


b) 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.
  • 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.

  6.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).

a) Nanoparticle-based vaccine offers new approach to COVID-19 immunity

As the international effort to vaccinate the population against COVID-19 gathers pace, the demand for vaccine doses that can be used in all countries and climates is enormous. Researchers from Cleveland Clinic and Chungbuk National University have described a new vaccine candidate that triggers an immune response using antigens attached to nanoparticles, potentially bypassing the need for cold storage during delivery. 

b) Changing ideas on the quark model of the proton
The original quark model of the proton is pleasingly simple: two up quarks and one down quark interact with each other by exchanging gluons, which bind the particles together through the strong nuclear force. However, physicists have now known for some time that the full picture is far more complex, with these three “valence” quarks alone only account for a fraction of the proton’s mass. Instead, the proton is now modelled as a roiling “sea” of many quarks, antiquarks and gluons that pop in and out of existence over very short time scales. This makes it very difficult to both calculate the internal properties of the proton and study them experimentally.

c) Digging up magnetic clues: archaeology sheds light on magnetic moments of the past

The idea that a record of the Earth’s magnetic past might be stored in objects made from fired clay dates back to the 16th century. William Gilbert, physician to Queen Elizabeth I, hypothesized in his work De Magnete that the Earth is a giant bar magnet and that clay bricks possess a magnetic memory. This phenomenon – known as “thermoremanent magnetization” – now forms the basis of a well-established method for dating archaeological sites that contain kilns, hearths, ovens or furnaces.

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