Physics Conf in 2021- VicPhys News 9/T3/20

A date has been set for next year’s Physics Teachers’ Conference has not been finalised but we predict it will be on mid February as in previous years, and the conference will be virtual. This presents challenges and opportunities, and importantly makes it easier for teachers in regional Victoria to attend.

Vicphysics is seeking:

  1. your views on what program features you want and
  2. whether you would be interested in presenting. 

Please complete the google.doc below.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Wednesday, 14th October by Video Conference starting at 5:30pm.   If you wish to participate, please email Vicphysics

Jane Coyle (Pres), Dr Barbara McKinnon (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe OAM (Sec) and Paul Walters (Treas)

Table of Contents
       1. 2021 Physics Teachers’ Conference – a Virtual Conference
       2.  Practical Investigations in 2020 – More Resources
       3. Puzzling Light effects

       4.  Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a new position?
5. Events for Students

  •  COSPAR-K, A free STEM Event, 29th Jan – 2nd Feb

       6. Physics News from the Web

  • Has the COVID-19 lockdown changed the earth’s climate?
  • Quantum computers me be heading underground to shield from cosmic rays
  • Beating the Diffraction Limit with Sound

1. 2021 Physics Teachers’ Conference – A Virtual Conference 
The 2021 VCE Physics Teachers’ conference will be an online event, which creates exciting opportunities to include a broader range of participants and presenters. The call for sessions is not likely to go out before next term, however it would greatly assist with our planning to have an indication of:
(i) your interest in presenting a workshop(s) and
(ii) what kind of workshops you would like to attend.
We are proposing workshops of no more than 50 minutes duration, including at least 20 minutes for discussion and interaction between the participants and the presenters.

Please let us know your plans and thoughts using this form: google doc

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2. Practical Investigations for 2020 – More resources
A number of teachers along with Vicphysics have contributed videos of investigations and data files for students to analyse.  The titles have been listed in recent editions of this newsletter.  The resources are on the Vicphysics google drive and access is available to teachers who request it by emailing Vicphysics.  So far about 50 teachers have requested access.

There is now one extra source of data files.  Kelvin Barraclough has provided files and support notes on aircraft performance, both model and full size planes.  Much of the model plane data has been collected with a phone app.

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3. Puzzling Light Effects
One of us (DOK) recently took the two photos below. The photo on the left, of the top of the Eureka Tower, suggests light reflecting up from the gold surface.  The one of the left show multiple rainbow effects in a cloud at a small angle from the sun.
The images can also be downloaded from here. Explanations greatly received.

.Return to top4. Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a new position?The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network set up a Job Ads page on our website to assist schools in finding a physics teacher, either to be a LSL replacement or to fill an ongoing position or just to cover an extended sick leave.

There are four Government schools seeking a physics teacher:

  • Balwyn High School, Brighton Secondary College, Rochester Secondary College, St Albans Secondary College.

This webpage is updated every weekend.  The webpage also has a link on how schools can register a position and also lodge a payment for this service. Return to top5Events for Students
a) COSPAR-K. A free Space STEM Event: Friday, 29th Jan – Tuesday, 2nd Feb, 2021
COSPAR-K is to be held in Sydney, but because of COVID-19, it is going virtual allowing students from around Australia to participate.
The organisers’ aim is to provide FREE access to everyone interested so they can “ask questions to their keynote speakers, spark ideas from presentations and take part in activities from wherever you are”.

The website describes the aspects of the program that have been confirmed so far including some speakers.  You can register to be kept informed. The original event was to have a conference format with activities for students on some of the days at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney.  However COVID-19 has required a move to virtual and a  drastic re-think about what can be offered and how, but the event is well resourced, so a watching brief is justified.

COSPAR-K TV will be delivered via the NSW Department of Education in collaboration with the STEM Industry Schools Partnerships program. Return to top
6.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).
a) Has the COVID-19 lockdown changed Earth’s climate?
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.
The lockdown measures imposed by many nations due to the COVID-19 pandemic have led to air pollution falling dramatically, thereby offering scientists a rare opportunity to study its links with climate and weather. But it’s a complicated connection. 
b) Quantum computers may be heading underground to shield from cosmic rays
Such is their sensitivity to environmental noise, quantum computers might in future be shielded by thick layers of lead and even operated deep underground. So say physicists in the US, who have found that ionizing radiation significantly limits the coherence time of superconducting qubits. Indeed, they say that minimizing radiation effects will be crucial if general-purpose quantum computers are to be made using superconducting technology.
c) Beating the Diffraction Limit with Sound
A system that reconstructs and classifies acoustic images with far smaller features than the wavelength of sound they emit has been developed by at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.  Their technique beats the diffraction limit by combining a metamaterial lens with machine learning and could be adapted to work with light. The research could lead to new advances in image analysis and object classification, particularly in biomedical imaging.


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Practice Exams. Vicphys News 8/T3/20

Organising practice exams will be different this year. To help, VCAA is setting up an online platform for students to sit the 2019 exams.

Graduate Courses: In the past some Chemistry teachers have expressed interest in teaching physics.  Information is provided on two online courses that offer enhancement in a number of science areas.

Also now is the time of the year when schools are beginning to advertise positions for next year.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Wednesday, 9th September by Video Conference starting at 5:30pm.   If you wish to participate, please email Vicphysics

Jane Coyle (Pres), Dr Barbara McKinnon (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe OAM (Sec) and Paul Walters (Treas)

Table of Contents 

1. VCAA Online Practice Exams       
2.  Graduate courses in Science and Physics Education:Deakin University: Graduate Certificate in Science (Secondary Maths and Science Initiative (SMSI)UNSW: Graduate Certificate in Physics for Science Teachers
 3.  Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a new position?
 4. Physics News from the Web Tinted solar panels allow plants to grow efficiently on ‘agrivoltaic’ farmsThe power of authority: Why we need to rely on expertsDoomsday clock ticks closer to disaster.

1. VCAA Online Platform for Practice Exams
Organsing practice exams is a challenge this year.  VCAA is developing a new set of resources to assist teachers to prepare their students for external assessment.”From early September, the 2019 VCE written examinations will become progressively available on the Insight Assessment platform. The platform is a web-based application that enables assessments to be delivered to students online. Access to these examinations on the platform will assist teachers and students to identify any real or perceived gaps in learning that can then be addressed as part of their examination preparation.””The Insight Assessment platform will support teacher access to the 2019 VCE written examinations through:a clear and accessible registration processa set-up process that is quick and easyautomated assessment of multiple-choice sections of examination papers, enabling immediate feedbackimmediate access to student short- and extended-answer questions to provide timely, informed feedback.”VCAA is running a series of webinars for schools that haven’t used the platform on i) Weds 9th Sept at 3:30pm;  ii) Thursday, 17th Sept at 4:00pm and iii) Weds 30th Sept at 10:00am.

 for more details and to register for a webinar.  It is unknown at the stage when the physics paper will be available on the platform. The paper will be the full 2019 paper and will contain some questions that are not part of the 2020 study design.  This webpage on our website has information about which questions on the 2019 and previous exam papers are not relevant for 2020.  Solutions to all exams are available here.  Return to top

2.  Graduate Courses in Science and Physics Education
Two courses: One for Year 7 – 10 science teachers who have come from other disciplines and another for would-be Physics teachers who have come from other disciplinesa) Deakin University: Graduate Certificate in Science – Secondary Maths and Science Initiative for Out-of-Field Teachers (SMSI)

Check here


Deakin University is providing through the Victorian Department of Education a Grad Cert in Science for out-of-field teachers teaching 7-10.  There is an equivalent for Maths.
It is being designed for both those teaching or planning to teach science 7-10, without a science background (or who feel they don’t have the background). It is fully funded by the Department and the teacher get a day time release a week.
It contains a unit on Physics (together with units in Biology, Chemistry, Earth & Space Sciences).
Unfortunately it looks as if it will be online in the first half of the year but Deakin University are hoping it will be face-to-face for the Physics (and Earth & Space Science) in the second half of the year, so lots of practical activities and industry experiences.
The SMSI is fully funded and participating teachers will not incur any out-of-pocket expenses. Participants from regional and rural schools will have travel, meals and accommodation reimbursed for any centrally based face to face learning days.  The offer will remain open until all places are filled.

For more details click here.

b) UNSW: Graduate Certificate in Physics for Science Teachers (online)
The program is designed for qualified science and mathematics teachers who seek a qualification to teach physics. The courses are entirely online. Each course in this program is designed to be taken sequentially at a rate of one per term, allowing teachers to continue their work as a teacher while studying. The courses cover a general introduction to physics as well as specific branches of the discipline: mechanics, electromagnetism, thermal physics and modern physics, enabling participants to be confident in their ability to teach physics, explain core concepts and present interesting contexts for applications of the science.

The closing date for next cycle is some time in November.  The course cost is $15,600. The NSW government provides scholarships for teachers. A request to SMSI (see above) to cover this course as well may be worth a try.

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3. Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a new position?The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network set up a Job Ads page on our website to assist schools in finding a physics teacher, either to be a LSL replacement or to fill an ongoing position or just to cover an extended sick leave.

There are nine Government schools seeking a physics teacher:Balwyn High School, Bayside P-12 College, Fairhills High School, Gladstone Park Secondary College, Greater Shepparton Secondary College,  Rochester Secondary College, St Albans Secondary College,  Williamstown High School, and Woodmans Hill Secondary College (2)This webpage is updated every weekend.  The webpage also has a link on how schools can register a position and also lodge a payment for this service.  Return to top

4.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.

For more details click here

a) Tinted solar panels allow plants to grow efficiently on ‘agrivoltaic’ farms
Tinted solar panels could allow land to be used to grow crops and generate electricity simultaneously, with financial gains, according to researchers in the UK and Italy. The orange solar panels absorb some wavelengths of light, while allowing those that are best for plant growth to pass through. The team even claim that their setup can produce crops offering superior nutrition.

b) The power of authority: why we need to rely on experts
The COVID-19 pandemic has underlined why the authority of science is so important – and how it’s so easy to lose.

c) Doomsday clock ticks closer to disaster
For almost 75 years, the Doomsday Clock has monitored how close humankind is to global catastrophe. With the clock now closer to midnight than ever before, Rachel Brazil talks to physicists who say we must step up our efforts to prevent disaster.  Return to top

Prac Inv’ns at Home No 3. VicPhys News 7/T3/20

This week’s newsletter has information about an extensive source of secondary data on aerofoil experiments. There is scope for several students to conduct separate investigations.

There is a comprehensive package on Waves from the AAPT and there is news from the Perimeter Institute.

Also now is the time of the year when schools are beginning to advertise positions for next year.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Wednesday, 9th September by Video Conference starting at 5:30pm.   If you wish to participate, please email Vicphysics

Jane Coyle (Pres), Dr Barbara McKinnon (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe OAM (Sec) and Paul Walters (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1.  Prac Investigations at home More Resources
  • Mech-Net Remote Lab on aerofoils

       2.  Waves: An Interactive Tutorial. An Online book of simulations and animations    
       3.  Perimeter Institute: Tools for Teaching Science
       4.  Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a new position?

       5. Physics News from the Web

  • Protons could be lighter than we thought
  • How to hack a self-driving car
  • Charging ahead – electric cars

1. Prac Investigations at home – More ResourcesThe newsletter of the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) has been a regular source of support materials during this difficult time.  The latest is an online experiment that has much potential for Practical Investigations  Mech-Net Recorded Data Labs

MechNet has introduced a different way for doing physics experiments with sophisticated research quality engineering equipment. The LabVIEW recorded data program allows students to conduct experiments in the exact same way as if the equipment where actually in their classroom. This is not a virtual reality program of what the data should be. This is real data recorded from an actual test with the equipment.

MechNet is offering these programs for FREE to assist teachers with online remote labs and in class labs as well.

It is an aerofoil investigation with two continuous independent variables of air speed and angle, as well as discrete variables for profile (three types) and for flap/ice (four angles of flap and 2 ice conditions).  The dependent variable is the lift, although data for the upper and lower surface velocity and pressure at several points are also available. Recorded data can be downloaded to the clipboard for analysis in Excel.  The air speed and angle have slide controls, so repeated trials can be done, generating some uncertainty for students to consider.

The range of discrete variables means that several students could use the program for quite different investigations.  A student with insecure physics may find this program challenging, but a student comfortable with their physics will be excited by the opportunities provided.

There is a short youtube video showing all the features of the program.  Teachers need to register and once approved, book time for students.  The website says there is an hourly fee, but unspecified and it seems to be currently waived.

The website says there is also a program for an electric vehicle, but it does not seem to be available.  A program for a roller coaster is being planned, which will be worth following up.

Other resources:
Previous newsletters have mentioned that Vicphysics has set up a Google Drive for videos of experiments and data sets.  Teachers may request access to the drive and download the files for their students by emailing Vicphysics.

Investigations on Video:    Topics are:

  • How the strength of the magnetic field between two bar magnets varies with separation as measured with a top loading balance.
  • How the strength of the magnetic field between two disc magnets varies with separation as measured with a top loading balance.
  • How the magnitude of the electrostatic attraction between a charged rod and a metal sheet varies with separation as measured with a top loading balance.
  • How the energy loss and the force of impact of the bounce of a soccer ball varies with drop height.
  • How the energy loss, force of impact and compression of a spring vary when a set of metal washers fall down a rod onto the spring from various heights.
  • How the energy loss, force of impact and compression of a spring vary when a sets of metal washers of different mass, fall down a rod onto the spring from a fixed drop height.
  • How the time for a Saxon Bowl to submerge depends on the diameter of the hole in the bottom

Data Sets:  The Vicphysics Google Drive also has a folder for data sets.  There are two data sets at this stage.

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2.  Waves: An Interactive Tutorial
This open source, online book hosted by AAPT uses a series of tutorials based on interactive simulations and animations to explore the physics of waves. Students develop their understanding of waves through guided questions and exercises based on these simulations.

There are four sections: Basic Properties, Combining Waves, External Interactions and Applications.  These cover most of the content in Unit 4 Area of Study 1 as well as covering more advanced aspects such as antennas, etc.

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3.  Perimeter Institute: Tools for Teaching Science
The Perimeter Institute has set up a reference resource for teachers of tools and strategies to improve student learning.  The full resource can be downloaded from here. It covers general science, as well as Physics, Chemistry and Biology, although most of the topics are physics based.
Their resource on black holes has been updated. It explores energy, gravitation, gravitational lensing, orbits, Kepler’s laws, and scientific models – all within the context of the latest discoveries.
Their video library is now on Youtube, but  if you wish to access the teacher guide, modifiable worksheets, your own copy of the video, and other supporting materials, then these are available from the link above.

.Return to top4. Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a new position?The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network set up a Job Ads page on our website to assist schools in finding a physics teacher, either to be a LSL replacement or to fill an ongoing position or just to cover an extended sick leave.

There are twelve Government schools seeking a physics teacher:

  • Bayside P-12 College, Bendigo Senior Secondary College, Box Hill High School, Fairhills High School, Gladstone Park Secondary College, Greater Shepparton Secondary College, Horsham College, Richmond High School, Sunbury College, Wedderburn College, Williamstown High School, and Woodmans Hill Secondary College (2)

This webpage is updated every weekend.  The webpage also has a link on how schools can register a position and also lodge a payment for this service. 

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5.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.

a) Protons could be lighter than we thought

The most precise measurement to date of the proton-electron mass ratio suggests that the proton may be lighter than previously thought. The result, from researchers in the Netherlands and France, provides a crucial independent cross-check with previous measurements of the ratio, which yielded inconsistent values.

The proton-electron mass ratio is an important quantity in physics and a benchmark for molecular theory. It can be determined by measuring the rotations and vibrations of ordinary molecular hydrogen ions (H2+) and comparing them to similar ro-vibrational measurements in their deuterated cousins (HD+). Both entities are the very simplest bound systems that can be termed “molecules”, and as such they are ideal for probing models of fundamental physics. Indeed, when researchers first performed measurements of ro-vibrational transitions in HD40 years ago, they suggested that the results could be used to test the theory of quantum electrodynamics (QED) in molecules.

b) How to hack a self-driving car
Cars that drive themselves may one day improve road safety by reducing human error – and hopefully deaths by accidents too. However, the hardware and software behind the technology opens up a range of opportunities to hackers.

c) Charging ahead – Electric cars
With electric cars set to enter the mainstream over the next few years, this article looks at the new charging solutions that will be needed to power what are effectively large batteries on wheels.

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Prac Inv’ns at Home: No 2. VicPhys News 6/T3/20

This week’s newsletter has more Practical Investigations resources, in particular videos of experiments from which students can extract data and analyse .

Teachers may also be aware that government guidelines now permit VCE students to go to school to complete assessment tasks. See more details below.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Wednesday, 9th September by Video Conference starting at 5:30pm.   If you wish to participate, please email Vicphysics

Jane Coyle (Pres), Dr Barbara McKinnon (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe OAM (Sec) and Paul Walters (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1.  Prac Investigations at home More Resources
  2. Completing Assessments Tasks at School

       3.  Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a job?
       4.Events for Students and General Public

  • Behind the Scenes of Big Science, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, Weds, 19th August
  • UNSW Bragg Science Prize for Science Writing for Years 7 – 10. Entries by 27th August, 2020

       5.Events for Teachers

  • 2020 Physics in the Cloud: A Physics Free-For-All Variety Night. 6:00pm, Friday, 21st August

       6. Physics News from the Web

  • First ‘open flavour’ tetraquark is spotted by LHCb at CERN
  • Microwave anomalies strengthen the case for loop quantum cosmology, say physicists
  • NASCAR – The science of car safety

1. Prac Investigations at home – More ResourcesLast week’s newsletter described a variety of strategies to conduct practical investigations under this year’s constraints. 

One of these was to provide videos of a range of experiments from which students would be able to extract data for analysis. The videos have been recorded and are now available, see details below.

Data sets for students to analyse are also being put together, see details below.

Investigations on Video:    Topics are:

  • How the strength of the magnetic field between two bar magnets varies with separation as measured with a top loading balance.
  • How the strength of the magnetic field between two disc magnets varies with separation as measured with a top loading balance.
  • How the magnitude of the electrostatic attraction between a charged rod and a metal sheet varies with separation as measured with a top loading balance.
  • How the energy loss and the force of impact of the bounce of a basketball varies with drop height.
  • How the energy loss, force of impact and compression of a spring vary when a set of metal washers fall down a rod onto the spring from various heights.
  • How the energy loss, force of impact and compression of a spring vary when a sets of metal washers of different mass, fall down a rod onto the spring from a fixed drop height.

Other teachers are preparing videos on the Saxon bowl as well as other ball experiments. 
These videos are now available in a folder on the Vicphysics Google Drive rather than on our website. Teachers may request access to the drive and download the files for their students by emailing Vicphysics.

Data Sets:  The Vicphysics Google Drive also has a folder for data sets.  There is only one data set at this stage, it is on resistivity. To access this data set, please email Vicphysics If you have a data set to share please send it to Vicphysics.

Other suggestions from the last newsletter were (these are also on our website):
Investigations at home: Our homes have many items that can be used in an investigation, such as balls, toys, rubber bands, plastic bottles, cloths, etc. Measuring instruments can include kitchen scales, ruler, stop watch apps, indeed there are a range of measuring tools in apps such as Phyphox, The Physics Toolbox and SparkVue.  The video analysis software, Tracker, is also a very powerful tool.
Lab techs: In some schools, the lab tech may be still coming in, as it is their workplace. They may be willing to set up and video some experiments and investigations for you.
Online Experiments: There are not many experiments that can be controlled remotely, but the Australian Synchrotron has two.  Freely Available Remote Labs (FARLabs) enable students to control an experiment and take their own measurements.  There are two: Photoelectric Effect and Diffraction of Light.  They are designed as formal experiments, but may allow greater investigation, for example how does the distribution of energy of photoelectrons vary with the frequency of the light.
Simulations:  There are several websites, such as PhET, Walter Fendt, etc that provide simulations as educational material.  They may have some value as topics for investigations, but they are usually limited as far as repeated trials and uncertainty in the data recorded.  These can be found here on our Apps and Applets webpage. 

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2. Completing Assessment Tasks at School
Government guidelines now permit VCE students to go to school to complete assessment tasks.

The VCAA can confirm that the Stay at Home Directions across Victoria enable:

  • students to leave their premises to undertake essential VCE and VCAL assessments onsite,
  • a school or other educational facility or institution to operate for the purposes of providing those services to those students, where it is ‘not reasonably practicable for those assessment to be undertaken’ from the student’s home, and
  • education staff can leave their premises to undertake support for the delivery of mandatory VCE and VCAL assessments onsite.

For further details click here.
For physics, this could include formal SAC tasks as well as an authentication task for the home-based Practical Investigation.

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3. Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a job?The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network set up a Job Ads page on our website to assist schools in finding a physics teacher, either to be a LSL replacement or to fill an ongoing position or just to cover an extended sick leave.

  • There are three Government schools seeking a physics teacher: The Lakes South Morang College (2 positions), Richmond High School and Wantirna College.

This webpage is updated every weekend.  The webpage also has a link on how schools can register a position and also lodge a payment for this service.

4. Events for Students and General Public
a) Behind the Scenes of Big Science, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, Weds 19th August
This National Science Week ANSTO are giving the public a unique opportunity to see behind the scenes at the Australian Centre for Neutron Science, online and for free.  Students can see the different kinds of instruments the Centre hosts, and hear the results that they bring.  Five of their scientists will each walk the students through their world-class science machines, and after there will be a live Q&A where they can quiz them more.  This is a rare opportunity to see behind the scenes of this big science factory.  

When: Wednesday 19 August, 7pm-8.30pm (AEST)
To register, click here. There is no cost.

b) UNSW Bragg Prize for Science Writing for Years 7 – 10. Entries close 27th August.
The 2020 Theme is ‘The Big Ideas saving the Planet’.
Students write up to 800 words to describe some scientific research that has delivered a solution that the student believes could change the future for the planet.
This website has entry details, as well as FAQs, Teacher’s resources and Writing tips.

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5. Events for Teachers
a) 2020 Physics in the Cloud: A Physics Free-For-All Variety Night, 6:00pm, Friday, 21st August
Physics in the Pub has gone virtual! An AIP Initiative.
Tiny magnets, cell goop and the future of the Universe
“We’ve digitized and uploaded our scientists and they’ll be streaming to you from the cloud, about the complex protein structures in our cells, how tiny magnets can cure cancer and, well, the philosophy of everything!
There’ll be songs, poems and quizzes, so have your device ready. Grab yourself a drink and join us online, with host Dr Phil Dooley of Phil Up On Science.”
Cost: Free, thanks to the AIP
For more information, click on Facebook here
To register, click here

6.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.

a) First ‘open flavour’ tetraquark is spotted by LHCb at CERN
The first tetraquark composed of four quarks of different flavours has been discovered by physicists working on the LHCb experiment at CERN. Dubbed X(2900), the “open flavour” tetraquark has a mass of about 2.9 GeV/cand has been spotted in two spin states. The tetraquark was made by smashing protons together at the Large Hardron Collider (LHC) to produce B mesons – and then searching the B meson decay products for signs of new particles.
b) Microwave anomalies strengthen the case for loop quantum cosmology, say physicists
A theory of quantum gravity that describes the universe as beginning in a “Big Bounce” rather than a Big Bang has succeeded in explaining several anomalies in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation.
c) NASCAR – The science of racing safely
An article describes the features to make racing cars safer for drivers.

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Prac Investigations at Home – VicPhys News 5/T3/20

While some teachers did their Practical Investigation earlier this year. For many others, their students will be doing their Practical Investigations later this term, at home and without access to the school’s physics equipment. 

The online discussion that Vicphysics held last week generated many ideas on how teachers can manage this novel situation including ways in which Vicphysics can assist teachers. 

Details are below and also on our website.

Jane Coyle (Pres), Dr Barbara McKinnon (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe OAM (Sec) and Paul Walters (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1.  Prac Investigations at home

       2.  Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a job?
       3.Events for Students and General Public

  • Behind the Scenes of Big Science, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, Weds, 19th August
  • UNSW Bragg Science Prize for Science Writing for Years 7 – 10. Entries by 27th August, 2020

       4.Events for Teachers

  • 2020 Physics in the Cloud: A Physics Free-For-All Variety Night. 6:00pm, Friday, 21st August

       5. Physics News from the Web

  • Bending hairs and compliant microstructures make razor blades dull
  • Portable sensor detects biomagnetic signals in noisy outdoor environments
  • ‘Cartwheeling’ light reveals new type of polarised light-matter interaction

1. Prac Investigations at homeLast week’s online discussion had over 40 participants.  There was an exciting range of ideas shared.  Many aspects were covered including: Possible topics, phone apps, sources of secondary data, timelines, authentication, etc
The notes from the discussion are now on our website here .

Investigations at home: Our homes have many items that can be used in an investigation, such as balls, toys, rubber bands, plastic bottles, cloths, etc. Measuring instruments can include kitchen scales, ruler, stop watch apps, indeed there are a range of measuring tools in apps such as Phyphox, The Physics Toolbox and SparkVue.  The video analysis software, Tracker, is also a very powerful tool.

Investigations on Video: Videos of investigations that students can pause to extract data or use Tracker, give students access to real data with associated uncertainties.  Vicphysics is currently preparing videos for several topics including:

  • How the strength of the magnetic field between two bar magnets varies with separation as measured with a top loading balance.
  • How the strength of the magnetic field between two disc magnets varies with separation as measured with a top loading balance.
  • How the magnitude of the electrostatic attraction between a charged rod and a metal sheet varies with separation as measured with a top loading balance
  • How the loss of charge from a charged rod varies with distance from low speed fan as measured by a top loading balance.
  • How the energy loss and the force of impact of the bounce of a basketball varies with drop height
  • How the energy loss, force of impact and compression of a spring vary when a set of metal washers fall down a rod onto the spring from various heights
  • How the energy loss, force of impact and compression of a spring vary when a sets of metal washers of different mass, fall down a rod onto thr spring from a fixed drop height.

Other teachers are preparing videos on the Saxon bowl as well as other ball experiments. 
These videos will be available from 17th August in a folder on the Vicphysics Google Drive rather than on our website. Teachers may request access to the drive and download the files for their students.  More details next week.

Lab techs: In some schools, the lab tech may be still coming in, as it is their workplace. They may be willing to set up and video some experiments and investigations for you.

Online Experiments: There are not many experiments that can be controlled remotely, but the Australian Synchrotron has two.  Freely Available Remote Labs (FARLabs) enable students to control an experiment and take their own measurements.  There are two: Photoelectric Effect and Diffraction of Light.  They are designed as formal experiments, but may allow greater investigation, for example how does the distribution of energy of photoelectrons vary with the frequency of the light.

Secondary data:  The study design for 2020 also offers the alternative of using data from other investigations.  An obvious source is the investigations by previous students.  School should have log books from previous years.  This could be a rich lode, but it may take some time to extract the right ore and then refine it to the point where it becomes useful.  It is also a resource that could be shared with other schools.  If you have any to share Vicphysics is happy to make it available in a controlled way.

Simulations:  There are several websites, such as PhET, Walter Fendt, etc that provide simulations as educational material.  They may have some value as topics for investigations, but they are usually limited as far as repeated trials and uncertainty in the data recorded.  These can be found here on our Apps and Applets webpage.  Return to top2. Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a job?The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network set up a Job Ads page on our website to assist schools in finding a physics teacher, either to be a LSL replacement or to fill an ongoing position or just to cover an extended sick leave.

  • There are two Government schools seeking a physics teacher: The Lakes South Morang College (2 positions) and Wantirna College.

This webpage is updated every weekend.  The webpage also has a link on how schools can register a position and also lodge a payment for this service.

3. Events for Students and General Public
a) Behind the Scenes of Big Science, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, Weds 19th August
This National Science Week ANSTO are giving the public a unique opportunity to see behind the scenes at the Australian Centre for Neutron Science, online and for free.  Students can see the different kinds of instruments the Centre hosts, and hear the results that they bring.  Five of their scientists will each walk the students through their world-class science machines, and after there will be a live Q&A where they can quiz them more.  This is a rare opportunity to see behind the scenes of this big science factory.  

When: Wednesday 19 August, 7pm-8.30pm (AEST)
To register, click here. There is no cost.

b) UNSW Bragg Prize for Science Writing for Years 7 – 10. Entries close 27th August.
The 2020 Theme is ‘The Big Ideas saving the Planet’.
Students write up to 800 words to describe some scientific research that has delivered a solution that the student believes could change the future for the planet.
This website has entry details, as well as FAQs, Teacher’s resources and Writing tips.Return to top 

4. Events for Teachers
a) 2020 Physics in the Cloud: A Physics Free-For-All Variety Night, 6:00pm, Friday, 21st August
Physics in the Pub has gone virtual! An AIP Initiative.
Tiny magnets, cell goop and the future of the Universe
“We’ve digitized and uploaded our scientists and they’ll be streaming to you from the cloud, about the complex protein structures in our cells, how tiny magnets can cure cancer and, well, the philosophy of everything!
There’ll be songs, poems and quizzes, so have your device ready. Grab yourself a drink and join us online, with host Dr Phil Dooley of Phil Up On Science.”
Cost: Free, thanks to the AIP
For more information, click on Facebook here
To register, click here

5.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.

a) Bending hairs and compliant microstructures make razor blades dull

New insights into why a hard steel razor blade is dulled by cutting soft hairs have been gained by a trio of researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Aa series of experiments recreated the shaving process and found that dulling is a result of microscopic variations in the structure of a blade and the angle at which a cut is made. The team suggests that nanoscale improvements to blades could boost the performance of cutting tools.

Most modern cutting edges are made of hardened steel, which is much harder than commonly cut materials such as hair and food. Indeed, the steel used to make razors is more than 50-times harder than human hair. As a result, scientists have long been puzzled exactly why such blades dull so rapidly after cutting seemingly soft materials.

It had long been assumed that sharp edges are dulled by basic wear mechanisms such as the cracking of brittle steel surfaces and the rounding of edges. However, little had been known about how these processes relate to the complex ways that blades and materials interact during the cutting process on a microscopic scale.

b) Portable sensor detects biomagnetic signals in noisy outdoor environments

A portable sensor that can detect tiny biomagnetic signals from the brain and heart – without the expensive magnetic shielding needed by current magnetoencephalographic techniques – has been developed by researchers in the US. The low-cost set-up, which is small enough to fit in a backpack, can operate successfully even near to power lines and a railway, and could find application in field triage, brain–machine interfaces and even precise magnetic navigation.

Magnetometry in the form of magneto- and electroencephalography (MEG and EEG) can provide vital insight into human brain and cardiac function, with resolutions that exceed alternative techniques like functional MRI and positron-emission tomography (PET). Commercial MEG systems, however, are expensive to operate and come with a sizeable footprint – requiring both large-scale magnetic shielding and cryogenic cooling systems – which also limits the activities that they can be used to study.

c) ‘Cartwheeling’ light reveals new type of polarized light-matter interaction

Technologies that rely on interactions between matter and polarized light usually stick to the well-understood effects of linear or circular polarization. Researchers at Rice University in the US have now opened the door to fresh approaches by studying how matter reacts to an additional form of polarization. This form, known as “trochoidal” polarization, is characterized by a “cartwheeling” motion in light’s electric field that can occur in either a clockwise or anticlockwise direction. Since matter can distinguish between these two directions, trochoidal dichroism could be used to develop novel spectroscopic tools.

Circularly-polarized light, in which the direction of the electromagnetic field rotates in a helical or “corkscrew-like” fashion as it propagates through space, is commonly used to study the conformation of small biomolecules such as proteins, DNA and amino acids. These studies are possible because such molecules are chiral – that is, their structures have a “handedness” that makes them absorb left- and right-circularly-polarized light differently, a phenomenon known as dichroism. Linear polarization is also widely used, for example to control reflections and glare in sunglasses.

The light polarization the Rice researchers studied is very different from these more familiar types. Rather than following a helical progression, the direction of the electromagnetic field in trochoidal light turns end-over-end as it propagates, rotating either clockwise or anticlockwise as it goes. “Rather like a rolling hula hoop,” explains study lead author, Lauren McCarthy Return to top

Prac Inv Forum – VicPhys News 4/T3/20

It is now back to remote teaching for the VCE.  It seems that the remote reboot in primary and lower secondary has benefited from the first experience.  However, VCE has the added complexity of SACs and Physics has the challenge of the Practical Investigation.  Vicphysics hopes to support teachers with ideas and solutions in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, the one hour Discussion-based PD planned for this Wednesday, 5th August will still go ahead.  It will take the form of a discussion around some guiding questions, see details below.  It will be on Zoom and run from 6:00pm to 7:00pm.   If you wish to participate, please email Vicphysics

ANSTO is running an innovative event for students from Years 7 to 11, working in teams.  Registrations have been open for a week and have been extended to Thursday, 6th August!

Jane Coyle (Pres), Dr Barbara McKinnon (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe OAM (Sec) and Paul Walters (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1.  A one hour online PD on Practical Investigations: Discussion Forum 6pm, Weds, 5th August
  2. More Online Teaching Resources from AAPT (American Association of Physics Teachers):
  • The Spacetime Emporium
  • Voice Science: A Digi Kit for Grades 6 – 12

       3.  Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a job?
       4.Events for Students and General Public

  • ANSTO National Science Week Hackathon. Registrations close Thursday!
  • Behind the Scenes of Big Science, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, Weds, 19th August
  • UNSW Bragg Science Prize for Science Writing for Years 7 – 10. Entries by 27th August, 2020

       5.Events for Teachers

  • 2020 Physics in the Cloud: A Physics Free-For-All Variety Night. 6:00pm, Friday, 21st August

       6. Physics News from the Web

  • Cyanobacteria and nanomaterials give solar cell a boost
  • Thermogalvanic hydrogel cools down electronic devices
  • Physicists create quantum phase battery

1.  A one hour online Discussion Forum on Data in Practical Investigations:  6pm, Weds 5th AugustVicphysics invites you to participate in a one hour network meeting at 6:00pm, Wednesday, 5th August. This will be a forum for discussing aspects of recording, processing and analysing data in practical investigations, with the aim of producing resources that are useful to current teachers and/or students of VCE.

Please check here resources to be used as discussion starters, as well as for discussion questions.
To participate please email Vicphysics and the Zoom link will be forwarded to you the day before the event.Return to top2. More Online Teaching Resources from AAPT (American Association of Physics Teachers):
a) The Spacetime Emporium: A collection of information and resources for anyone interested in Einstein’s Special and General Theories of Relativity. There are materials for a wide audience, from the general science reader to specialists in spacetime physics.  There are sections on Galilean relativity, Special relativity, General relativity, Reference frames, Spacetime fundamentals, Maths, History and Beyond relativity.  Each section has a list of several links to articles and websites, which can be filtered by Year level and type of resource.
b) Voice Science: A Digi Kit for Grades 6 – 12  This Digi Kit blends a cell phone oscilloscope app with a digital wave graphing activity to explore how human voice patterns can be visualized as waves. The digital tools transform students’ voice recordings into wave patterns.  The package has sections with Lesson plans, Models/simulations, Videos/animations, Real life connections, Digital tools and Activities. Return to top3. Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a job?The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network set up a Job Ads page on our website to assist schools in finding a physics teacher, either to be a LSL replacement or to fill an ongoing position or just to cover an extended sick leave.

  • There is two Government schools seeking a physics teacher: Parkdale Secondary College and Wantirna College.

This webpage is updated every weekend.  The webpage also has a link on how schools can register a position and also lodge a payment for this service.

4. Events for Students and General Public
a) ANSTO National Science Week Hackathon.  Registrations close Thursday, 6th August.
Hackathons are high-energy sprint-like events where participants work in a team, with the help of mentors, to design and build a solution to a problem.
The Australian Museum and ANSTO are excited to announce ANSTO’s National Science Week Hackathon for Australian secondary students in Years 7-11 as part of National Science Week 2020.
The theme is: “How can we use our oceans to innovate for a changing climate?”
The first 20 teams to submit a complete registration form will receive $100 to use towards their hack. Official registration for this online event opens on Mon 27 July and closes on Mon 3 August.
To register a team and more details, click here. It seems you can register a team without supplying names, but years level(s) are required, It appears names and parental permission slips can be supplied later.
Recommended team size is 3 – 7 students.
Timeline: 
Friday, 14th August: Problem challenges are released.  Teams review challenges, pitch ideas, choose a mentor *, finalise team roles, begin team work.  * Currently there is a list of 10 at the link above.
Sat and Sun, 15th and 16th August.  Teams work on their proposal.
Monday, 17th August.  Teams meet with mentors, revise and re-work their project.
Tuesday, 18th August. Teams create video presentations of their solutions and submit.
Prize pool: $1000 and medals for first and second places.

b) Behind the Scenes of Big Science, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, Weds 19th August
This National Science Week ANSTO are giving the public a unique opportunity to see behind the scenes at the Australian Centre for Neutron Science, online and for free.  Students can see the different kinds of instruments the Centre hosts, and hear the results that they bring.  Five of their scientists will each walk the students through their world-class science machines, and after there will be a live Q&A where they can quiz them more.  This is a rare opportunity to see behind the scenes of this big science factory.  

When: Wednesday 19 August, 7pm-8.30pm (AEST)
To register, click here. There is no cost.

c) UNSW Bragg Prize for Science Writing for Years 7 – 10. Entries close 27th August.
The 2020 Theme is ‘The Big Ideas saving the Planet’.
Students write up to 800 words to describe some scientific research that has delivered a solution that the student believes could change the future for the planet.
This website has entry details, as well as FAQs, Teacher’s resources and Writing tips.Return to top 5. Events for Teachers
a) 2020 Physics in the Cloud: A Physics Free-For-All Variety Night, 6:00pm, Friday, 2st August
Physics in the Pub has gone virtual! An AIP Initiative.
Tiny magnets, cell goop and the future of the Universe
“We’ve digitized and uploaded our scientists and they’ll be streaming to you from the cloud, about the complex protein structures in our cells, how tiny magnets can cure cancer and, well, the philosophy of everything!
There’ll be songs, poems and quizzes, so have your device ready. Grab yourself a drink and join us online, with host Dr Phil Dooley of Phil Up On Science.”
Cost: Free, thanks to the AIP
For more information, click on Facebook here
To register, click here

6.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.

a) Cyanobacteria and nanomaterials give solar cell a boost

Strategically designed nanomaterials have been used to optimize the performance of a solar cell that incorporates photosynthesizing cyanobacteria.  What is especially impressive about the new technology is that it exploits a broad region of the solar spectrum while simultaneously boosting the photosynthetic activity of the cyanobacteria.  The device achieved enhanced efficiency by employing three separate active materials, each covering different regions of the solar spectrum. 

Zinc oxide nanorods are highly photoactive in the ultraviolet region, but the researchers extended this range to include visible light by coating the nanorods with another functional nanomaterial: gold nanoparticles. These exhibit localized surface plasmon resonance, a phenomenon capable of increasing the photoactivity of semiconductors through strong light absorption and scattering; and an enhanced local electromagnetic field at a specific frequency. Essentially, the gold nanoparticles act as tiny light-harvesting antenna.b) Thermogalvanic hydrogel cools down electronic devices
A new thermogalvanic hydrogel can simultaneously cool down electronic devices and convert the waste heat that they produce into electricity. The material, developed by a team of researchers at Wuhan University in China and the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) in the US, decreases the temperature of a mobile phone battery by 20 °C and retrieves 5 μW of electricity at fast discharging rates. This reduced working temperature ensures that the battery operates safely, while the amount of electricity harvested is enough to power the hydrogel’s cooling system.

c) Physicists create quantum phase battery
Researchers in Spain and Italy have constructed the first-ever quantum phase battery – a device that maintains a phase difference between two points in a superconducting circuit. The battery, which consists of an indium arsenide (InAs) nanowire in contact with aluminium (Al) superconducting leads, could be used in quantum computing circuits. It might also find applications in magnetometry and highly sensitive detectors based on superconductors.Return to top

Events for Students. VicPhys News 3/T3/20

There are more resources online as a follow up to the webinar Vicphysics ran during the school holidays.

ANSTO is running an innovative event for students from Years 7 to 11, working in teams.  Registrations open today and close next Monday, so hurry!

The second section of the next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be a PD on Practical Investigations.  It will take the form a discussion around some guiding questions.  It will be on Zoom and run from 6:00pm to 7:00pm on Wednesday, 5th August.   If you wish to participate, please email Vicphysics

Jane Coyle (Pres), Dr Barbara McKinnon (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe OAM (Sec) and Paul Walters (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1.  Vicphysics Webinar:  More resources are online and a one hour PD on Practical Investigations
  2.  Real Research Data with Student Worksheets from ANSTO
  3. A research review of the best fabrics for face masksAn example of good science, detailed data analysis and excellent pedagogy.
  4. Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a job?

       5.Events for Students and General Public

  • ANSTO National Science Week Hackathon. Registrations open 27th July
  • Behind the Scenes of Big Science, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, Weds, 19th August
  • UNSW Bragg Science Prize for Science Writing for Years 7 – 10. Entries by 27th August, 2020

       6.Events for Teachers

  • 2020 Physics in the Cloud: A Physics Free-For-All Variety Night. 6:00pm, Friday, 21st August

       7. Physics News from the Web

  • 3D ultrafast Doppler ultrasound quantifies coronary blood flow.
  • Earth’s atmosphere rings like a giant bell, say researchers
  • The fifth state of matter, a Bose-Einstein condensate, is made onboard the International Space Station

1.  Vicphysics Webinar: More resources and a one hour PD on Practical Investigations
Vicphysics held a webinar on the last Friday of the mid year holidays about planning for the second half of 2020.
The previous newsletter mentioned  that the videos of the sections were now online. 
Further material has been added, see below.  These resources are available here.
Presentations:

  • Reporting of data and Data Analysis in Practical Investigations (extra material)

Extra Support documents:

  • 2 Log book samples
  • Spreadsheet of sample data of a basketball bounce with analysis and annotations

PD on Practical Investigations
Vicphysics invites you to participate in a one hour network meeting at 6:00pm, Wednesday, 5th August. This will be a forum for discussing aspects of recording, processing and analysing data in practical investigations, with the aim of producing resources that are useful to current teachers and/or students of VCE.

Please check here resources to be used as discussion starters, as well as for discussion questions.
To participate please email Vicphysics and the Zoom link will be forwarded to you in the days before the event.Return to top

2. Real Research Data with Student Worksheets from ANSTO
ANSTO have developed some guided worksheets to help students analyse real data sets from ANSTO research. Students can graph data, make calculations, draw conclusions and answer discussion questions using provided background reading.
The worksheets and data sets examine different research topics, including:

  • Greenhouse gas concentrations from Antarctic ice cores over 800,000 years
  • Fine particle air pollution
  • Radionuclides in medicine
  • Investigating radiation in the air we breathe

The data sets and worksheets are available here.  Copies of the solutions are available on request from here

 Return to top3. A research review of the best fabrics for face masks: An example of good science, detailed data analysis and excellent pedagogy.
The presenter of this Youtube video was keen to design a face mask with the best fabrics, so she did a search of the scientific literature and found an article on testing fabrics for masks.  The video describes their testing process, explains and interprets the data in a way that will engage students and also produces a practical product in the end. Return to top4. Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a job?The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network set up a Job Ads page on our website to assist schools in finding a physics teacher, either to be a LSL replacement or to fill an ongoing position or just to cover an extended sick leave.

  • There is one Government school seeking a physics teacher: Parkdale Secondary College

This webpage is updated every weekend.  The webpage also has a link on how schools can register a position and also lodge a payment for this service.

5. Events for Students and General Public
a) ANSTO National Science Week Hackathon.  Registrations open 27th July and close 3rd August.
Hackathons are high-energy sprint-like events where participants work in a team, with the help of mentors, to design and build a solution to a problem.
The Australian Museum and ANSTO are excited to announce ANSTO’s National Science Week Hackathon for Australian secondary students in Years 7-11 as part of National Science Week 2020.
The theme is: “How can we use our oceans to innovate for a changing climate?”
The first 20 teams to submit a complete registration form will receive $100 to use towards their hack. Official registration for this online event opens on Mon 27 July and closes on Mon 3 August.
To register a team and more details, click here. It seems you can register a team without supplying names, but years level(s) are required, It appears names and parental permission slips can be supplied later.
Recommended team size is 3 – 7 students.
Timeline: 
Friday, 14th August: Problem challenges are released.  Teams review challenges, pitch ideas, choose a mentor *, finalise team roles, begin team work.  * Currently there is a list of 10 at the link above.
Sat and Sun, 15th and 16th August.  Teams work on their proposal.
Monday, 17th August.  Teams meet with mentors, revise and re-work their project.
Tuesday, 18th August. Teams create video presentations of their solutions and submit.
Prize pool: $1000 and medals for first and second places.

b) Behind the Scenes of Big Science, 7:00pm – 8:30pm, Weds 19th August
This National Science Week ANSTO are giving the public a unique opportunity to see behind the scenes at the Australian Centre for Neutron Science, online and for free.  Students can see the different kinds of instruments the Centre hosts, and hear the results that they bring.  Five of their scientists will each walk the students through their world-class science machines, and after there will be a live Q&A where they can quiz them more.  This is a rare opportunity to see behind the scenes of this big science factory.  

When: Wednesday 19 August, 7pm-8.30pm (AEST)
To register, click here. There is no cost.

c) UNSW Bragg Prize for Science Writing for Years 7 – 10. Entries close 27th August.
The 2020 Theme is ‘The Big Ideas saving the Planet’.
Students write up to 800 words to describe some scientific research that has delivered a solution that the student believes could change the future for the planet.
This website has entry details, as well as FAQs, Teacher’s resources and Writing tips.Return to top 6. Events for Teachers
a) 2020 Physics in the Cloud: A Physics Free-For-All Variety Night, 6:00pm, Friday, 2st August
Physics in the Pub has gone virtual! An AIP Initiative.
Tiny magnets, cell goop and the future of the Universe
“We’ve digitized and uploaded our scientists and they’ll be streaming to you from the cloud, about the complex protein structures in our cells, how tiny magnets can cure cancer and, well, the philosophy of everything!
There’ll be songs, poems and quizzes, so have your device ready. Grab yourself a drink and join us online, with host Dr Phil Dooley of Phil Up On Science.”
Cost: Free, thanks to the AIP
For more information, click on Facebook here
To register, click here

7.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.

a) 3D ultrafast Doppler ultrasound quantifies coronary blood flow

In the peripheral arteries, non-invasive, non-ionizing Doppler ultrasound imaging is used instead of angiography. But for cardiac applications, Doppler imaging is difficult, because of the rapid motion of the myocardium and the insufficient definition of conventional ultrasound.
To overcome this challenge, researchers recently introduced a method called ultrafast Doppler coronary angiography (UDCA), which uses 2D ultrafast ultrasound to visualize coronary vessels as small as 100 µm in a beating heart. They have now extended their UDCA approach to three dimensions, enabling 3D imaging and quantification of coronary blood flow in a single heartbeat.

b) Earth’s atmosphere rings like a giant bell, say researchers

The Earth’s entire atmosphere vibrates like a giant bell, with various large-scale resonant waves travelling in both directions around the globe. That is the conclusion of scientists in Japan and the US, who have confirmed a nearly two-centuries-old hypothesis by Laplace of atmospheric resonance. Their research should help improve both weather forecasts and long-term climate forecasts.

c) The fifth state of matter , a Bose–Einstein condensate, is made onboard the International Space Station
A Bose–Einstein condensate (BEC), known as the fifth state of matter, is a dilute gas of bosonic atoms whose temperature is so low that their wavelength becomes comparable to the distance between one atom and the next. In these circumstances the atoms all occupy the same quantum state and act in unison as a superfluid – so bringing otherwise microscopic wavelike properties into the macroscopic realm.

Physicists usually make BECs by confining a gas of bosonic atoms in a magnetic trap and firing laser beams at the particles to cool them down. The snag is having to release the condensate to study it. Once free, the atoms repel one another and quickly spread out if they are not cold enough – making the gas too tenuous to be detectable. But gravity also poses a major problem, its downward tug causing the atoms to collide with the bottom of the experimental apparatus within a fraction of a second.Return to top

Videos from webinar, L & M Resources. VicPhys News 2/T3/20

The video of the webinar Vicphysics ran during the school holidays is now on our website.  It is divided up into six sections.
The popular excursion venue, the Australian Synchrotron, that offers Unit 4 programs has moved to online support.  There is an extensive range of resources available and they will be running an information session on Tuesday, 28th July at 4pm.
There is also news of medical implants being powered by photovoltaics.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Thursday, 23rd July by Video Conference starting at 5:30pm.   If you wish to participate, please email Vicphysics

Jane Coyle (Pres), Dr Barbara McKinnon (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe OAM (Sec) and Paul Walters (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1.  Vicphysics Webinar: Friday, 10th July Presentations, resources and videos are now online
  2.  Australian Synchrotron resources for Unit 4

       3.Events for Students and General Public

  •  UNSW Bragg Science Prize for Science Writing for Years 7 – 10. Entries by 27th August, 2020

       4. Events for Teachers

  • 2020 Physics in the Cloud: A Physics Free-For-All Variety Night. 6:00pm, Friday, 21st August

       5. Physics News from the Web

  • External skin patch transfers power to medical implants
  • Finding a consistent constant
  • Fighting flat-Earth theory

The Parents association is putting up $15, 000 for the purchase of equipment

1.  Vicphysics Webinar: Friday 10th July. Presentations, Videos and Resources
Vicphysics held a webinar last Friday on planning for the second half of 2020. There were  50 participants on line.
The following resources are now available here.
Presentations and videos on:

  • Teaching the adjusted Areas of Study 1 and 2 in Unit 4
  • Prac Ideas for Unit 4 Waves and Light AoS
  • Prac Ideas for Motion in Unit 2
  • Managing Practical Investigations
  • Reporting of data and Data Analysis in Practical Investigations
  • Creating Assessment Tasks that are not Tests

Support documents:

  • Beginning Physics Teacher Resource Package for 2020 (35 pages)
  • List of Practical and Online Activities for Semester 2 in 2020
  • Youtube Demonstrations for Unit 4
  • Assessment Tasks on Vicphysics website
  • Student booklet for Unit 4 Practical Investigation in 2020
  • VCE Physics Practical Work Handbook
  • Unit 4 Teaching plan
  • Worksheet on interference of light, as well as
  • The many suggestions that came up in discussion.

Return to top

2. Australian Synchrotron: Resources for Unit 4
All school excursions at the Australian Synchrotron have been cancelled due to COVID 19 restrictions.  Although PrimeSCI! cannot offer an on-site visit at the present time, they have created a set of resources to provide students with an opportunity to gain an insight into the workings of the facility and the science behind it.  These resources are provided at no cost to schools in Term 3 2020.

Swinburne PrimeSCI!, with the support of ANSTO, have produced a recording of the experiments conducted during each lab session. The 15 minute video, along with the student and teacher handbooks and data sets, can be used as a unit test or a SAC.

A teacher information session with PrimeSCI!’s Education Officer will also be held at 4pm on Tuesday 28th July.  To book, click here.

The Year 12 VCE Physics resources on Interactions of Light and Matter Lab Session are as follows:

ANSTO also invites your class to take part in the Meet an Expert program, that allows students to speak with a Synchrotron Scientist on a range of topics via Video Conference.

 Return to top
3. Events for Students and General Public
a) UNSW Bragg Prize for Science Writing for Years 7 – 10. Entries close 27th August.
The 2020 Theme is ‘The Big Ideas saving the Planet’.
Students write up to 800 words to describe some scientific research that has delivered a solution that the student believes could change the future for the planet.
This website has entry details, as well as FAQs, Teacher’s resources and Writing tips.Return to top 4. Events for Teachers
a) 2020 Physics in the Cloud: A Physics Free-For-All Variety Night, 6:00pm, Friday, 2st August
Physics in the Pub has gone virtual! An AIP Initiative.
Tiny magnets, cell goop and the future of the Universe
“We’ve digitized and uploaded our scientists and they’ll be streaming to you from the cloud, about the complex protein structures in our cells, how tiny magnets can cure cancer and, well, the philosophy of everything!
There’ll be songs, poems and quizzes, so have your device ready. Grab yourself a drink and join us online, with host Dr Phil Dooley of Phil Up On Science.”
Cost: Free, thanks to the AIP
For more information, click on Facebook here
To register, click here

5.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.

a) External skin patch transfers power to medical implants

Biomedical electronic implants, such as cardiac pacemakers, deep brain stimulators or spinal cord stimulators, enhance quality-of-life by providing diagnostics and treatments within the human body. Most of these devices, however, are powered by batteries. And once these batteries run down, patients must undergo invasive surgery to replace them.

To address this obstacle, researchers at Gwangju Institute of Science and Technology (GIST) propose a new way to provide sustainable electrical power within the body without the risks of surgical complications – via a concept called active photonic power transfer. They have developed a power transfer system comprising a skin-attachable light-source patch and a photovoltaic array integrated into a flexible medical implant.
b) Finding a consistent constant
The Planck mission gave us the most precise value of the Hubble constant to date by measuring the cosmic microwave background. But studies made since using different methods provide different values. Keith Cooper investigates the discrepancies and asks what it might mean for cosmology.
c) Fighting flat-Earth theory
Physicists will find it shocking, but there are plenty of people around the world who genuinely believe the Earth is flat. Rachel Brazil explores why such views are increasingly taking hold and how the physics community should best respond.

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Webinar resources. VicPhys News 1/T3/20

Welcome back, the challenge of the adjusted Unit 4 begins.  Last Friday we held a webinar for beginning physics teachers and others focussing on Semester 2.  Over 50 teachers logged on. Along with three major presentations and several resources were prepared, many good suggestions came out of the discussions.  All these are now on our website.

If you are looking for some light relief, there is an online Physics Variety Night in August.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Thursday, 23rd July by Video Conference starting at 5:30pm.   If you wish to participate, please email Vicphysics

Jane Coyle (Pres), Dr Barbara McKinnon (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe OAM (Sec) and Paul Walters (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1.  Vicphysics Webinar: Friday, 10th July Presentations and resources are now online
  2.  New Physics Resource
  • Ten ways Physics has enhanced the medical field.  A Perimeter Institute webpage.

       3.  Physics Contests for Students in 2020
       4.  Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a job?
       5.Events for Students and General Public

  •  UNSW Bragg Science Prize for Science Writing for Years 7 – 10. Entries by 27th August, 2020

       6. Events for Teachers

  • 2020 Physics in the Cloud: A Physics Free-For-All Variety Night. 6:00pm, Friday, 21st August

       7. Physics News from the Web

  • Why insulated metals cool down faster than their bare counterparts
  • Beetle-inspired film reflects 95% of solar radiation
  • Table top device might snare gravitational waves using tiny diamonds

1.  Vicphysics Webinar: Friday 10th July. Presentation and Resources
Vicphysics held a webinar last Friday on planning for the second half of 2020. There were  50 participants on line.
The following resources are now available here.
Presentations on:

  • Teaching the adjusted Areas of Study 1 and 2 in Unit 4
  • Practical Activities for Unit 4 Waves and Light AoS
  • Data and Data Analysis in Practical Investigations
  • Creating Assessment Tasks that are not Tests

Support documents:

  • Beginning Physics Teacher Resource Package for 2020 (35 pages)
  • List of Practical and Online Activities for Semester 2 in 2020
  • Youtube Demonstrations for Unit 4
  • Assessment Tasks on Vicphysics website
  • Student booklet for Unit 4 Practical Investigation in 2020
  • VCE Physics Practical Work Handbook
  • Unit 4 Teaching plan
  • Worksheet on interference of light, as well as
  • The many suggestions that came up in discussion.

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2. New Physics Resource

  • Ten ways Physics has enhanced the Medical Field.  A Perimeter Institute webpage.  This Outreach article includes 10 poster quality images with explanatory text and striking images.  The images are not available as posters, but you can copy each image as a jpeg file. The topics include PET, MRI, LINAC, ventilators, lasers, ECG, Ultrasound, Adaptive optics, X-rays and enzyme interactions.

 Return to top3. Physics Contests for Students in 2020
a) Physics Photo Contest
Entrants must submit their photos by email attachment. The photo must accompanied by a statement of 250 words or less describing the physics in the photo.  Entries are limited to 10 per school each year. The photos can 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.  Closing Date: The Friday of the first week of term 4.  For details click hereb) Physics Video Contest
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. It may not be longer than three minutes in length. 
Students could use the videos by the keynote speaker at the 2012 Physics Teachers’ Conference, Dr Derek Muller, as a guide to how to structure a video. His videos can be found at his website

The submission must contain a statement of 250 words or less explaining the physics in the video. Entries are limited to 10 per school each year. Closing Date: Friday of the first week of Term 4. 
Prize pool: Up to $1000.  For details click here.c) Poster Competition for Unit 2 Practical Investigation
The Poster Competition is designed to award quality student work and to provide exemplars of quality investigations. There is a maximum of ten prizes, with a list of criteria on this webpage.  Entries need to be submitted as a one page pdf.  The posters should be sent as an email attachment by the teacher to Vicphysicsby the second Friday of Term 4.  Successful entries with judges’ comments are also on the webpage.Return to top4. Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a job?
The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network set up a Job Ads page on our website to assist schools in finding a physics teacher, either to be a LSL replacement or to fill an ongoing position or just to cover an extended sick leave.

  • There is one Government school seeking a physics teacher: Roxburgh College

This webpage is updated every weekend.  The webpage also has a link on how schools can register a position and also lodge a payment for this service.

5. Events for Students and General Public
a) UNSW Bragg Prize for Science Writing for Years 7 – 10. Entries close 27th August.
The 2020 Theme is ‘The Big Ideas saving the Planet’.
Students write up to 800 words to describe some scientific research that has delivered a solution that the student believes could change the future for the planet.
This website has entry details, as well as FAQs, Teacher’s resources and Writing tips.Return to top 6. Events for Teachers
a) 2020 Physics in the Cloud: A Physics Free-For-All Variety Night, 6:00pm, Friday, 2st August
Physics in the Pub has gone virtual! An AIP Initiative.
Tiny magnets, cell goop and the future of the Universe
“We’ve digitized and uploaded our scientists and they’ll be streaming to you from the cloud, about the complex protein structures in our cells, how tiny magnets can cure cancer and, well, the philosophy of everything!
There’ll be songs, poems and quizzes, so have your device ready. Grab yourself a drink and join us online, with host Dr Phil Dooley of Phil Up On Science.”
Cost: Free, thanks to the AIP
For more information, click on Facebook here
To register, click here

7.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.

a)  Why insulated metals cool down faster than their bare counterparts.
A model devised by scientists at the University of Twente in the Netherlands sheds new light on the behaviour of metals cooled by liquid nitrogen – and specifically the somewhat counter-intuitive classical observation that insulated metals cool down faster than their bare counterparts.

A significant barrier to rapid cool-down in cryogenic systems is the evolution of a vapour film between the liquid-nitrogen coolant and the stainless-steel tubing that connects the cryogen bath to the cryogen storage tank. This phenomenon – known as the Leidenfrost effect – results in a low heat transfer rate and inefficient usage of precious coolant.

Now, Vanapalli and Jagga say they have come up with a workaround that addresses this problem while simultaneously optimizing the associated workflow.
b) Beetle-inspired film reflects 95% of solar radiation
A new flexible material for passive cooling that was inspired by a volcano dwelling beetle has been developed by scientists in China, the US and Sweden. The film reflects around 95% of solar irradiance, and can reduce the surface temperature of objects by around 5 °C. It could be used to cool everything from buildings to electronics, the researchers say. The surface enhances scattering and total internal reflection.

c)  Table top device might snare gravitational waves using tiny diamonds.
Rather than the kilometre-length observatories of today, future gravitational-wave detectors could be just a few metres long. That is the goal of physicists in the UK and the Netherlands, who have put forward a design for a matter-wave interferometer that would rely on the superposition of tiny objects such as diamond crystals rather than laser beams. They say that the device would be sensitive to low- and mid-frequency gravitational waves.
The latest work proposes a far smaller type of observatory based on interfering beams of matter rather than light. The particles in question would have a mass of about 10-17 kg, corresponding to a de Broglie wavelength of 10-17 m. This is about 100 billion times smaller than the wavelength of laser light used in existing observatories and could be exploited in an interferometer measuring as little as 1 m in length.

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Exam date, Webinar, NASA Resource – VicPhys News 6/T2/20

VCAA has announced the dates of the VCE exams.  Physics is on Tues, 24th Nov.  Their website also has the adjusted formula sheet and Exam Specifications.
Registration are coming in for Vicphysics’ webinar on planning for the second half of 2020.  The event is primarily designed for teachers taking either Unit 2 or Unit 4 for the first time, but given the curriculum changes it may be of interest to others.  It will be on Friday, 10th July from 9:30am to 12:30pm..

NASA has produced a data set from the sun’s Corona Mass Ejections. Students use the data to produce position and velocity time graphs. It will be a useful resource for Unit 2.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Thursday, 23rd July by Video Conference starting at 5:30pm.   If you wish to participate, please email Vicphysics

Jane Coyle (Pres), Dr Barbara McKinnon (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe OAM (Sec) and Paul Walters (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1.  VCE Physics Exam is on Tuesday, 24th November from 9:00am until 11:45am
  2.  Vicphysics Webinar: Friday, 10th July
  3. More Resources on Managing Learning when Schools are closed 
  • NASA Kinematics Digi Kit: Data from Sun’s Corona Mass Ejections for Vel vs T graphs

4.  Survey of Teachers on their awareness of Brain Research and its impact on Education and Learning
5.  Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a job?
6. Events for Students and General Public

  •  UNSW Bragg Science Prize for Science Writing for Years 7 – 10. Entries by 27th August, 2020

6. Physics News from the Web

  •   Colliding galaxies created the solar system, say astronomers
  •   The feelings you get when you discover something in physics
  •   More evidence found for a ‘fifth force’ in radioactive decay measurements

1.  VCE Physics Exam is on Tuesday, 24th November from 9:00am until 11:45am
The Adjusted Exam Specifications for 2020 and the Adjusted Formula Sheet are available here.
Examination materials for Physics are:

  • one scientific calculator
  • one folded A3 sheet or two A4 sheets that are bound together by tape, and single- or double-sided. Notes may be typed or handwritten, and from any source (including commercially available notes)

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2.  Vicphysics Webinar: Friday 10th July
Vicphysics will hold a webinar on planning for the second half of 2020.  It is primarily designed for teachers taking either Unit 2 or Unit 4 for the first time, but given the curriculum changes it may be of interest to others.  It will be on Friday, 10th July and run from 9:30am to 12:30pm.
The program will cover:

  • Teaching the adjusted Unit 4 and Unit 2 Areas of Study
  • Practical Activities and the Practical Investigation in Units 2 and 4
  • Possible assessment tasks and
  • Managing the Unit 2 Detailed Studies.

The program will be provided by Jane Coyle, Dr Barbara McKinnon and other members of the Vicphysics Committee.
To register, to raise any specific questions you would like addressed and for more details, you will need to go to our website.  If you wish to attend in person you can indicate that when you register, however space is limited.  The venue is Monash Tech School at the Clayton Campus of Monash University.

3.  More Resources on Managing Learning when Schools are closed 
In many countries schools are still in lock down. Physics Associations around the world are publicising curriculum materials to assist teachers   A new resource from NASA is described below.   Items from previous newsletters are on a separate web page and there is a direct link to the page from our home page.

  • NASA Digi Kit for High School Physics:   This Digi Kit blends physics and space science as students analyse authentic data from the NASA SOHO space observatory to measure the speed of a coronal mass ejection (CME).  Learners will take on the role of scientists by examining image sets of two different CMEs.  The task is to plot graphs of position vs time and velocity vs time, then determine how long it would take for each CME to reach the Earth.  The package has lessons with assessment, interactives and videos and animations.

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4. Survey of Teachers on their awareness of Brain Research and its impact o Education and Learning.
A Monash University PhD student is conducting research on the prevalence of ‘myths’ about neuroscience among teachers.
Participants will be required to complete an anonymous online quiz/survey that is expected to take less than 12 minutes.  She says: ‘It is not lost on me that most teachers are very busy in the current environment having to rapidly adapt and change the way they teach. Your expertise and input will be extremely valuable in making recommendations to include neuroscience-based instructional strategies for future use. I would therefore greatly appreciate your participation in this study’.
To read the explanatory statement and begin the survey, click here.
5Seeking a Physics teacher? Seeking a job?
The Vicphysics Teachers’ Network set up a Job Ads page on our website to assist schools in finding a physics teacher, either to be a LSL replacement or to fill an ongoing position or just to cover an extended sick leave.

  • There are two Government schools seeking a physics teacher: Roxburgh College and Manor Lakes P-12 College

This webpage is updated every weekend.  The webpage also has a link on how schools can register a position and also lodge a payment for this service.

6. Events for Students and General Public
a) UNSW Bragg Prize for Science Writing for Years 7 – 10. Entries close 27th August.
The 2020 Theme is ‘The Big Ideas saving the Planet’.
Students write up to 800 words to describe some scientific research that has delivered a solution that the student believes could change the future for the planet.
This website has entry details, as well as FAQs, Teacher’s resources and Writing tips.

7.   Physics from the Web
Items selected from the bulletin of the Institute of Physics (UK).
Each item below includes the introductory paragraphs and a web link to the rest of the article.

a) Colliding galaxies created the solar system, say astronomers
The solar system may have been formed in a long-ago collision between the Milky Way and its orbiting companion the Sagittarius dwarf galaxy. That is the conclusion of astrophysicists in Spain, who have analysed data from the Gaia space observatory. This cosmic “fender bender” – which occurred as Sagittarius’ orbit plunged it through the plane of our galaxy – helped to concentrate cosmic dust in and usher in a period of heightened star formation.
b) The feelings you get when you discover something in physics
How do you react when something unexpected happen in physics. Robert Crease, a philosopher of science, explores the gamut of responses.
c)  More evidence found for a ‘fifth force’ in radioactive decay measurements.
Anomalies in the radioactive decay of beryllium-8 and helium-4 point to the existence of a new force of nature. That is the conclusion of a group of theorists in the US, who have scrutinized data from experiments carried out by nuclear physicists in Hungary over the past five years. Results from the two different isotopes agree on both the mass and interaction strength of the hypothetical boson that would carry the long-sought fifth force, the team found.
The Standard Model of particle physics tells us that matter particles interact with one another via four forces: electromagnetic; strong; weak; and gravity. But theorists have long hypothesized the existence of other forces, including “dark photons” that might mediate interactions between particles of dark and ordinary matter.