Support for New Physics Teachers: In-Services and a Mentor Scheme

The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network is keen to assist physics teachers whether they are:

  • a) First Year Outs,
  • b) Teachers returning to Physics teaching after many years’ absence, or
  • c) Teachers who have been asked by their school to take physics.

The in-service program is a full day in-service during the Term 1 school holidays.

The 2024 event was held on Thursday, 11th April. The venue was Kew High School. Below are the program details. The In-Service fee was $60 inc GST with subscriber discounts. The program included:

  • Hands on opportunity to try a large range of practical activities and demonstrations, supported by experienced teachers,
  • Colin Hopkins sharing his techniques on teaching and assessing learning and
  • Panel of experienced teachers sharing their ideas and answering questions on designing assessment task, course planning, etc.

See below for resources provided for the 2024 event.


The Mentor Scheme. Several retired physics teachers have offered their services to support new teachers. The Network gives them a stipend to meet with the teacher once during Terms 2, 3 and 4 and to be available for phone and email contact. Teachers wishing to participate in this scheme should send an expression of interest containing their contact details and a statement of why they want to be involved in the scheme. The expression of interest should be accompanied by a letter of support from the Science Coordinator of the School Principal. The documents should be either posted to the Vicphysics Mentor Scheme, PO Box 290, Flinders Lane, VIC 8009 or emailed to VicPhys with subject “Booking: Mentor Scheme”. Schools are welcome to fund additional support from the mentor.

Material prepared for recent In-Services

Planning resources from 2024 In-Service 677 kB pdf

The 39 page package includes a list of practical activities for each Area of Study, course plans for Years 11 and 12 and some activities on conceptual understanding.

Prac Activity worksheets from 2024 In-Service 1.9MB pdf

The 36 page booklet has information on experiments at the various stations, either as actual worksheets or as weblinks to other sites. Also included is the equipment list with sources and costs as well as photos of equipment set ups.

Applets for Activating thinking (2022) 3 MB pptx

A presentation by Rachael Gore from Albert Park College highlights the value of applets in enabling a deeper understanding, identifies several useful sources and discusses in depth the classroom strategies of Project Zero from the Harvard Graduate School of Education to develop a deeper understanding.

Preparing Students for VCE Physics Exams (2021) 1.8 MB pptx
Assessment and Feedback in VCE Physics (2021) 21 MB pdf

The presentation by Dr Merryn Dawborn-Gundlach and Dr Syd Boydell from the University of Melbourne covers various methods for assessing student learning, different types of feedback, both directions of feedback and the use of rubrics. Assessment methods mentioned include Kahoot, Plickers, KWL Tables, Entrance and exit tickets, Quizlets, Quizizz and Mind Maps.

Tools for probing and enhancing conceptual understanding 2.1 MB pptx

The powerpoint for the presentation by Dr Barbara McKinnon, Kew High School, at the 2019 Beginning Physics Teachers’ In-Service.

Forces on a can of peaches 7.86 kB pdf

A worksheet on Forces from the CUP (Conceptual Understanding Procedures) collection developed by Monash University. It accompanies the powerpoint by Dr McKinnon presented at the 2019 Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service.

Instructions for constructing an electric field compass 412 kB pdf

Instructions prepared by Dr Barbara McKinnon, Kew High School

Investigating F = BIL 462 kB pdf

Experiment using a top loading balance to measure the force, prepared by Dr Barbara McKinnon, Kew High School

Electric Field examples 1.41 MB JPG

A JPG file of images prepared by Dr Barbara McKinnon, Kew High School

Magnetic Field mapping 608 kB pdf

A pdf file of instructions to set a demonstration, prepared by Dr Barbara McKinnon.

Electric Field Mapping 610 kB docx

A worksheet on probing electric fields prepared by Dr Barbara McKinnon, Kew High School for the 2019 Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service.

Magnetic Field Mapping Worksheet 76.8 kB doc

A worksheet on mapping magnetic fields from the American Modeling Teachers’ Association.

Refraction of Light Experiment 20.1 kB pdf

A worksheet for an experiment on refraction of light from the American Modeling Teachers’ Association.

Practical activities over the decades 33.3 kB doc

A table of displaying how the types and descriptions of practical activities in Physics have changed over the last three decades.

Resources and Practical Activities 223 kB ppt

A PowerPoint presentation on i) the different styles of practical activities with examples, as well as discussion of the factors to be considered in planning summary report on practical activities and the practical investigations and ii) the types of physics resources that are available to physics teachers in a range of formats from text to websites.

Types and examples of Practical Activities 223 kB ppt

The PowerPoint from the presentation on Practical Activities.

Practical Actvities Categories Worksheet 36.9 kB doc

A worksheet to categorise and evaluate the types of practical activities that your students experience.

Table of criteria for the Practical Investigation 53.8 kB doc

The criteria for the Practical Investigation from VCAA Physics Assessment Booklet have been arranged in a table format for ease of use. Each row contains related comments on a particular aspect e.g. ‘Understanding’ from each of the score ranges, e.g. ‘Demonstrates an advanced understanding of the investigation’ through to ‘Demonstrates a limited understanding of …’. The full text has been broken up, covering the categories of ‘understanding’, ‘hypothesis’, ‘procedures’, ‘safety’, ‘improvements’, ‘data’, ‘records’, ‘presentation’, ‘estimates’, ‘analysis’, ‘communication’, ‘explanations’, each with a separate row.The table has been updated with a column indicating whether each category can be assessed by the student’s plan, their logbook or the poster.

Exam and Revision Advice 1.1 MB ppt

The PowerPoint presentation has examples of exam questions that students have found difficult with suggestions of strategies to overcome these as well as worked solutions using the strategies. Advice is also provided on revising during the semester and before the exam as well as specific exam strategies.

Responses to Discussion Questions 28.2 kB doc

The program for the in-service included a discussion on question such as ‘What was your biggest surprise in first teaching physics?’ ‘What have you enjoyed most in your teaching?’, etc. These same questions were used in the 1987 Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service. These are their responses.

Powerful Learning Demonstrations for Beginning Teachers (2005) 143 kB doc

Presented by Colin Hopkins from Trafalgar High School and Rob Braidwood from Balwyn High School.

Teaching Electricity 65.5 kB doc

The document outlines one person’s idea of how to introduce the concepts of electricity in Year 11 physics.

Tools for probing and enhancing conceptual understanding 2.1 MB pptx

The powerpoint for the presentation by Dr Barbara McKinnon, Kew High School, at the 2019 Beginning Physics Teachers’ In-Service.

Resources on ‘Forces on Passengers’ from VELS site 83.5 kB doc

This document describes the extensive range of information on students’ misconceptions in science available on the VELS website. A summary of one example is included that of ‘Forces on passengers’.

Conceptual Understanding Procedures for Physics 40.4 kB doc

Conceptual Understanding Procedures (CUPs) for Physics are an initiative of Monash University. They are a set of teaching procedures designed to aid the development of understanding of concepts that students find difficult. This is an article about using them. The material can be accessed here.
Also check here for other files on course planning and here for exam solutions and exam reports by the Chief Assessor.