Student information, Judging information

What do the students do

Vicphysics Teachers’ Network established a competition for Year 10 Science and Year 11 physics students. In the course of the year, in teams of three, students will carry out three experimental investigations, then later in the year, present and defend their findings in scientific discussions with other teams. They also critique the presentation of other teams.

The tournament was last conducted in 2017. It will be held again in 2021 on Sunday, 12th September at the University of Melbourne.

The problems for investigation in 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.

Important Dates:

Registration of Teams closes: Friday, 23rd July. See Details below
Tournament Date: Sunday 12th September from 9:00am until 3:30pm.


Physics Dept, University of Melbourne


There will be a trophy for the school of the winning team.
There will book prizes and book vouchers for the members of the top three teams, as well as book vouchers for the members of all other teams.

Videos of the Tournament

At the 2014 Victorian Young Physicists’ Tournament, Terry Tan from John Monash Science School videoed the competition as did some of the other teachers. Terry has edited the footage into two packages, i) a short one using extracts from different contests to show the key features of a contest and ii) a longer one of one complete contest. See links below.

Short video of Victorian Young Physicists’ Tournament
A longer video of Victorian Young Physicists’ Tournament

The Vicphysics Committee appreciates the tremendous amount of work by Terry in chasing up school approvals and then editing the material into these packages.

Aims of the Tournament

This event is designed to encourage research skills, team work and communication skills. It is modelled on the Australian Young Physicists’ Tournament (AYPT), which is held in Brisbane in March each year and the International Young Physicists’ Tournament, which is held later at the mid year. Check the AYPT website for a link to IYPT.

Organisation of a Tournament

Regulations of the Physics Tournament 37.9 kB

The regulations include sections on team membership and supervision, the jury, description of team roles in a ‘Physics Phyte’, and the sequence of a stage in a ‘Physics Phyte’.

Tournament PowerPoint 226 kB

The Powerpoint from the workshop at the 2014 Physics Teachers Conference.

Judging criteria 59.9 kB

Assessment criteria to be used by the judges for VYPT contests. There is a separate criteria sheet for each of the roles of Report and Critique.

Registration of Teams

Official entries will be due by Friday, 23rd July.
Only teachers can register teams. There is no limit on the number of teams a school can register, but the school must nominate teachers to be a judges with one teacher for every two teams.
There is a cost to register a team. $20 per team for Vicphysics subscribers and $40 per team for non-subscribers.
Parents and friends can also attend for $20 per person.
Lunch will be provided as well as morning and afternoon teas.

A travel subsidy will be available to assist schools in regional areas with transport to Melbourne.
Registrations will open at the end of February.


University students who will be assisting with judging will also be invited to be mentors. A mentor will be available for each team. They will be able to spend two one hour sessions, either online or face to face, with the team over the course of the investigations. The teacher will be the intermediary for contact and will always need to be present.

What do the judges do

To get an idea of what the students do, it is useful to briefly read through the information above.

Each team will compete in six contests, three to present and three to critique.

Each contest will be judged by a panel of 3 people, which will include at least one teacher who has judged before. At the end of the contest, the judges are encouraged to ask questions of both teams before each deciding on their scores.

Each contest lasts about 30 minutes. There are specified time limits for different sections within the 30 minutes to ensure comparable judging.

The six contests proceed through the day starting about 9:30am and finishing about 3:30pm. Most new judges are likely to judge about three contests. All judges will have at least one contest off.


Judges are not expected to be experts in the topics the students have investigated. The emphasis is on their use of experimental methods. However it is useful if the judges have thought about each of the topics prior to the day, deciding what might be relevant independent variables and how they might go about designing an investigation.

A look through the assessment criteria is also useful.

To get a sense of the phases of a contest and the usual standard, please check out the videos above.
If you would like to register as a judge please click here. You may also wish to be a mentor to one of the teams. The commitment is not extensive and there are benefits on offer.