Advice on Learning Physics

How to Learn Physics

Advice prepared by the Physics department of the University of Sydney for their first year physics students, however it is very accessible and appropriate for secondary physics students.

How to Study Effectively

Advice prepared by the Physics department of the University of Sydney for their first year physics students. It is a companion piece for their advice ‘How to Learn Physics’ and so it is very accessible and useful for secondary physics students.

How to Study Physics

An booklet (26 pages) originally written in 1949 by Seville Chapman for undergraduate physics students in the US. It is very comprehensive and still largely relevant to current secondary physics students. A highlight is the summary of 52 one line statements of advice.

Physics Course Survival Strategies

A short document (8 pages) by Donald Simanek for US undergraduate physics students. Much is relevant to secondary physics students, but it does refer more to tertiary structures such as professors, lectures, tutors, etc than other links listed here.

Suggestions for Physics Students

A one page document from the University of Texas by Dale D. Long, which has some useful advice on how to use a text book.

Study Tips for Introductory Physics

A two page document from the Oberlin College in the US by Don Styer for undergraduate physics students that presents advice is a simple dot point form.

How to Learn

The Rev. Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, is known for ‘Alice in Wonderland’. He was also a mathematician. This erudite document on ‘How to Learn’ from reading a text is the introduction to his book on Symbolic Logic.

How to solve Physics Problems

This article by Donald Simanek identifies the steps in solving a physics problem as well as some comments on learning physics.

How_to_Study_Physics.doc 22 kB

Some tips and motivational ideas.

Advice on Revising for Physics Exams

Exam and Revision Advice 1.1 MB

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.

Revision Strategies 31.2 kB

Advice on strategies that prepare Physics students for VCE exams.

Checklist 42 kB

A table containing down one side a list of the common errors by students in physics exams, e.g. ‘power of ten’ error. Students are encouraged, after each test or practice exam, to use the sheet to identify and record where they lost marks, to think about whether there is a pattern developing, and if so, devise a strategy to eliminate the error.

Template for a four page summary for Units 3 & 4 VCE Physics 94.7 kB

A set of reminders to assist students when they are preparing their own four page summary. The summary can be on a single A3 sheet or two A4 pages taped together. This is a draft for the new course. Comments are welcome to vicphys@vicphysics.org .NOTE: This is NOT a four page summary.

Advice on Doing the VCE Physics Year 12 Exam 44 kB

Advice on using the reading time, what to do when you get into difficulties with a question, and your attitude during an exam, plus numerous handy hints on exam technique.

Course summary for Unit 3 “Motion in one and two dimensions” 188 kB

A 14 page summary in ‘Word’ of the Key Knowledge for the VCE Physics Unit 3 Area of Study “Motion in one and two dimesnions’.

Course summary for Unit 3 “Electronics and photonics” 57.9 kB

A 5 page summary in ‘Word’ of the Key Knowledge for the VCE Physics Unit 3 Area of Study ‘Electronics and photonics’.

Course summary for Unit 3 Detailed Study “Materials and their use in structures” 63.5 kB

A 5 page summary in ‘Word’ of the Key Knowledge for the VCE Physics Unit 3 Detailed Study ‘Materials and their use in structures’.

Course summary for Unit 3 Detailed Study “Further electronics” 117 kB

A 9 page summary in ‘Word’ of the Key Knowledge for the VCE Physics Unit 3 Detailed Study ‘Further electronics’.

Course summary for Unit 4 Detailed Study “Sound” 590 kB

A 7 page summary in ‘Word’ of the Key Knowledge for the VCE Physics Unit 4 Detailed Study ‘Sound’.

Course summary for Unit 4 “Electric Power” 786 kB

A 8 page summary in ‘Word’ of the Key Knowledge for the VCE Physics Unit 4 ‘Electric Power’.

Course summary for Unit 4 “Interactions of Light and Matter” 70.1 kB

A 6 page summary in ‘Word’ of the Key Knowledge for the VCE Physics Unit 4 ‘Interactions of Light and Matter’.

Also check here for additional revision material on specific topics compiled by Colin Hopkins.

Practice revision questions from old exams and detailed exam solutions for recent VCE Physics Exams are also available.

Forthcoming Events for Students

Victorian Young Physicists’ Tournament

The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network established a competition for Year 11 physics students. In the course of the year, in teams of three, students carried out a range of experimental investigations drawn from a common set, then later in the year, present and defend their findings in scientific discussions with other teams. The event is currently postponed, but may start again in 2021.

Melbourne University talks for VCE Students

Lectures have been arranged to assist your students in years 11 and 12 of VCE Physics. The topics are relevant to the VCE Study Design, and practising physicists have agreed to deliver them. The lectures, of about 1 hour duration, will be held on Thursdays at 6 pm in the Laby Theatre of the School of Physics. Some light refreshments will be available

Information about the lectures can be found here.

Astronomy Public Lectures at Swinburne University

The full lecture program can be found at here.

The Australian Youth Aerospace Forum (AYAF) Queensland, early July each year

The AYAF is a five-day interactive forum open to 100 Year 12 and Year 11 students from all over Australia who are interested in a career in the Australian Aerospace Industry. It is a continuation of the Queensland Youth Aerospace Forum (QYAF) which has been enjoyed by hundreds of students over the past ten years. The forum will highlight aerospace engineering or avionics options for university and higher education and the employment possibilities in the industry after graduation.

AYAF is run by a team of young aerospace and avionics enthusiasts, many of whom are students studying related courses at university. AYAF will provide an invaluable opportunity for you to share their experiences of the industry and get advice on university life. Attendees will also visit two of Australia’s top aerospace engineering and avionics universities; the University of Queensland and the Queensland University of Technology. Attendees will hear from lecturers, industry specialists and current engineering, aerospace avionics and science students about pathways into the aerospace industry, including new technologies and research projects. A hands-on approach to experiencing the excitement of aerospace is fostered through group projects.

The forum provides accommodation on campus at the University of Queensland, Brisbane for only $150. This was the only cost other than travel. Some interest in flight and aerospace was expected, so Year 12 students who did ‘Flight’ in Year 11 are encouraged to apply to AYAF.

VCE Physics Days at Luna Park

VCE Physics Days are held at Luna park in the first week of March each year. The activity is designed for Year 12 students. Check this website under ‘Events’ for details of the worksheets and arrangements for each of the days.

Extension Activities for Physics Students

Physics Olympiad

The Physics Olympiad is an event for able Year 11 Physics students. Students sit for a National Qualifying Exam (NQE) in August. The purpose of the NQE is to identify the best 24 students in the country. These students go to Canberra in December for training and ultimately selection in a team to represent Australia overseas. Click on the link for details about registration. Resources such as the syllabus and previous National Qualifying Exams with solutions are also available.

National Youth Science Forum

A career-oriented, personal development youth program in Canberra for a fortnight in January, in which students will meet leading scientists, visit scientific and national centres, participate in forum debates, mock job interviews as well as a range of social events. It is open to Year 11 students. Applications should be submitted to the local Rotary club by mid May. An equit scholarship is also available to assist with the cost.

Australian Student Mineral Adventure

A 12 day summer (January) school in Tasmania of plant and mine visits, geological excursions, lectures and exposure to scientific innovation and research. It is for Years 10, 11 and 12 students. Applications are due in early July. The program allows students to find out about careers, lifestyles and opportunities in the minerals industry and investigate university courses that would suit their abilities and preferences in terms of subjects such as chemistry, physics, mathematics, geology and biology.The ASMVs are fully residential and supervised, with an ASMV Administrator responsible for each Region’s program.

BHP Billiton Science Student Awards

Primary and secondary students submit experimental research projects. Many cash prizes. Application due early July. Victorian students can only enter their project in either STAV’s Science talent Search or CSIRO’s CREST Awards. Bursary winners are automatically entered into the BHP Billiton Awards.

Science Talent Search

Science Talent Search includes experimental research projects. Investigations are ideal and VYPT research. Registrations close late June. Entries submitted late July. Entries are automatically entered in the BHP Billiton Science awards and bursary winners are automatically national finalists.

CREST Awards

A CSIRO competition for experimental research projects that is school based with flexible time lines.

ConocoPhillips Science Experience

A three day science school of hands-on activities held in January at each of the universities in Melbourne. It is for Year 9 students. Applications are due in August