Internet Physics Resources. Vicphys News 2/T1/19

There are a few overseas physics education journals that feature links to websites with useful resources.  This newsletter includes a selection of those found in the last week.

Also coming up next week is the Physics Teachers’ Conference.  The Chief Assessor’s Forum is a month later in early March and the Beginning Teachers’ In-Service is in the school holidays.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Thursday, 7th February at Melbourne Girls’ College starting at 5:00pm. Teachers are welcome to these meetings. If you wish to come, please email Vicphysics

Frances Sidari (Pres), Jane Coyle (Vice-Pres), Dan O’Keeffe (Sec) and Terry Tan (Treas)

Table of Contents

  1. PhyPhox: Smart Phone Experiments
  2. Parallel Pedagogy: Learning the concepts simultaneously – Introductory mechanics
  3. Why a tennis ball goes flying when bounced on a basketball? Editable software of the impact
  4. Equipment Designs for Physics Demonstrations
  5. Events for Students and the General Public
  6. Events for Teachers

7. Physics News from the Web
a) Newton: Egomaniac or Troubled genius? A review of ‘Isaac Newton: The Asshole who reinvented the Universe’
b) Fascinating Physics Facts about Snow Flakes
c) The Physics of Knitting

1.  PhyPhox: Smart Phone Experiments
PhyPhox is an app produced by the Aachen University in Germany.  It can be downloaded for free.  The software makes use of the large range of sensors now in smart phones.  You can export your data in most common formats and also control any experiment remotely from a web browser.  There is also a ‘forum’ with numerous contributions.

2. Parallel Pedagogy: Learning the concepts simultaneously – Introductory mechanics
This curriculum resource adopts a teaching approach similar to the way we learn our first language. ‘We just start using it while increasing complexity through iteration. Most every sixth grader can distinguish energy, momentum, force, and motion. Parallel Pedagogy begins there; stresses concepts, problem solving and picture drawing; while adding maths only as it becomes necessary.’
The material is produced by Pete Schwartz, Professor of Physics at California Polytechnic State University.
The website has an introductory video in which Pete Schwartz explains his methodology and the use of the flipped classroom. There is also a link to an article from ‘The Physics Teacher’ about the program.  He also has an extensive list of short instructional videos.

3.  Why a tennis ball goes flying when bounced on a basketball? Software to investigate the impact
An article in Wired by Prof Rhett Allain of Southeastern Louisiana University explains the high rebound of the tennis ball, along with a video, but more usefully he includes the code for a computer simulation of the impact.  You are able to not only run the simulation, but also, adjust the ratio of the masses to investigate the effect.  He also extends the software analysis to a multiball collision (Check out ‘Astroblaster‘ the commercial toy).  There are a set of homework exercises at the end of the article.  Also check out Physics Girl Youtube video

4. Equipment Designs for Physics Demonstrations
This is a set of instructions to build equipment for over 50 physics demonstrations. They were prepared by John Johnston of The Faraday Centre in New Zealand.  The instructions require basic workshop tools.  The demos cover mechanics, waves, light and electromagnetism.

5.    Events for Students and the General Public
a) Monday, 11th February, Girls in Science Webinar, 10:20am – 11:30am AEDT
As part of a celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Victoria’s Lead Scientist, Dr Amanda Caples, with others will be hosting an interactive web-streamed panel session aimed at middle and senior school students in science.  The event will be hosted by the Royal Society of Victoria.
The event will feature a keynote address by Dr Marguerite Evans-Galea, Co-Founder and CEO of Women in STEMM Australia. The panellists will be taking questions from the online audience.
For more details about the event and the panel members and to also book, click here.  There are still spots available for audience members.  Check the link for details.

b) Monday, 11th February, AIP Public Lecture: The Higgs Boson and the search for physics beyond the standard model, 5:30pm, University of Melbourne.
Speaker: Prof Elisabetta Barberio, University of Melbourne.  Elisabetta won the 2018 AIP Walter Boas Medal for fundamental contributions to the experiments and analysis that led to the discovery and characterisation of the Higgs boson at CERN, and the search for physics beyond the standard model.
Venue: Hercus Theatre. Map

c) Friday, 22nd February, Things that go bump in the night: fast radio bursts and the search for life beyond Earth, 6:30pm, Swinburne University
Speaker: Dr Daniel C Price, Centre for Astrophysics and Supercomputing, Swinburne University
Venue: Swinburne University, Hawthorn campus, ATC building, ATC101 (Enter from Burwood Road)
Abstract: Thanks to new, more powerful technology, astronomers can search the skies faster and with more resolution than ever before.  In this public lecture, I will talk about two exciting fields in astronomy: the Search for Extraterrestrial  Intelligence (SETI), and Fast Radio Bursts. The SETI field has been reinvigorated by the 10-year, $100M Breakthrough Listen initiative to search for intelligent life beyond Earth. As a project scientist for Breakthrough Listen, I will introduce the program and detail how we are using new technology to run the most comprehensive search for intelligent life beyond Earth ever undertaken. I will also discuss a mysterious phenomenon known as fast radio bursts: incredibly bright but short-lived signals from distant galaxies, which escaped detection until recently. Could these signals be due to intelligent aliens, or is there an astrophysical explanation? I will give an overview of how a telescope upgrade will help us answer this question, and how Swinburne astronomers will play a leading role. Finally, I will discuss what evidence would convince us that there is indeed life beyond Earth, or that the Universe is ours alone to enjoy.
Registration and Details: For further information and registration, please click here. Closes when maximum capacity reached.

d)  Physics Days at Luna Park: Tuesday, 5th March to Friday, 8th March, 2019

This year there will be an extra ride on offer: the Speedy Beetle located behind the Ferris Wheel.  It is a mini roller coaster that moves in a figure 8 with sharp rises and falls and a quick banked turn..
Bookings are now open .  Tuesday and Friday are filling fast, but there is plenty of room on Wednesday and Thursday.
An aerobatic display by a member of the Roulettes has been requested, but confirmation is often not provided until mid February.
Worksheets are available here.
Schools can also book a Pasco data logger for a half day by accessing the Ciderhouse website here.

e) Girls in Physics Breakfasts in 2019
This year there will be two extra country breakfasts, in Warrnambool and Wodonga.
The dates, venues, speakers and topics are:

  • 22nd March, Ballarat Speaker: Dr Dianne Ruka, Monash University, Topic: Future Computing and Low Energy Electronics.
  • 3rd May, Geelong Speaker: Dr Ellen Moon, Deakin University, Topic: Science in the Antarctic: Where can STEM take you?
  • 10th May, Warrnambool Speaker: Dr Gail Iles, RMIT, Topic: Human spaceflight and science in space
  • 17th May, Bendigo Speaker: Dr Judy Hart, University of  New South Wales, Topic: Developing new materials for renewable energy
  • 24th May, Wodonga Speaker Dr Adelle Wright, ANU, Topic: Nuclear Fusion: An Australian Perspective
  • 30th May, Melbourne Speaker: Dr Susie Sheehy, University of Melbourne and Oxford University, Topic: Colliding worlds: Using particle physics to cure cancer.
  • Late July, Clayton The date, venue and speaker are yet to be finalised.

For more details including flyers and how to book please go to the Vicphysics webpage

f) Friday, 29th March: Watching a Little Gas Cloud on its Way into the Galactic Supermassive Black Hole  6:30pm, Swinburne University
Speaker: Prof Andreas Burkert, Ludwig Maximalians University, Munich
Venue: Swinburne University, Hawthorn campus, ATC building, ATC101 (Enter from Burwood Road)
Registration and Details: For further information and registration, please click here.

6.     Events for Teachers
a)  2019 Physics Teachers’ Conference, 15th 16th February, La Trobe University
Register now to get your workshop preferences.  A school purchase order can be used to accompany the registration form.
The Friday program includes two addresses:

  • Opening Address: Precision Cosmology with the next generation of Telescopes with Dr Laura Wolz from the University of Melbourne
  • Pre Lunch Address: Responding to short answer questions with Andrew Hansen, the Chief Assessor.

There are also three sessions of workshops with 16 workshops on offer in each.

The Saturday program has two Excursion tasters on offer to the Synchrotron and VSSEC as well as a two hour Medical Physics In-Service at Peter Mac. Each session in the Saturday program can be booked independently of the conference booking by emailing Vicphysics indicating which ones you wish to attend.  There is no cost.

The cost: $188 for an individual STAV member, $305 for a STAV School subscriber, $330 for a non STAV member and $78 for a retired teacher.  Registration includes morning tea and lunch.  Program details, registration forms and online booking are available here. Check Vicphysics website as well.

b) Tuesday, 12th March: Chief Assessor’s Forum on the 2018 VCE Physics Exam, 5:00pm, University High School
Vicphysics and the Chief Assessor, Andrew Hansen, would again like to provide teachers with the opportunity to hear about the full exam with an extended opportunity to ask questions and a chance to speak with Andrew.

The Chief Assessor’s Forum a question by question coverage of the students’ responses to last year’s Physics exam.  The event will also be streamed live.
The forum will start at 5:00pm, with a meal break at 6:30pm, commencing again at 7:15pm.  Dinner will be provided.
Cost: $60 to attend the event, including the meal. $30 to view online.
Booking: You will need to book through Trybooking, check our website for details.

c) Monday, 8th April: Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service, Kew High School
Vicphysics will be running a full day in-service on Monday, 8th April at Kew High School.  The event is free, lunch is provided and travel support is available for country participants.
The event is for:

  • Teachers beginning their teaching career,
  • Teachers returning to physics teaching and
  • Teachers who have been asked by their school to take a VCE Physics class

The program will include:

  • Information on course planning, resources, advice of teaching specific topics and suggestions from some of last year’s participants after teaching physics for the first time in 2018,
  • Andrew Hansen, Chief Assessor for the Physics exam, from Ringwood Secondary College on Exam advice.

To register please complete the details on this Vicphysics webpage. . It also has  information about last year’s program.

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

a)  Newton: Egomaniac or troubled genius? A review of ‘Isaac Newton: The Asshole who reinvented the Universe’ 
Andrew Robinson reviews the book by Florian Freistetter.  Albert Einstein’s final interview, two weeks before his death in 1955, was preoccupied with Isaac Newton, whose physics Einstein revered, next only to that of James Clerk Maxwell. But when the interviewer, an American academic historian of science, touched on Newton’s personality, and particularly Newton’s notorious refusal to publish any acknowledgement of the ideas of Robert Hooke in the preface to hisPrincipia Mathematica (1687), Einstein responded: “That, alas, is vanity. You find it in so many scientists. You know, it has always hurt me to think that Galileo did not acknowledge the work of Kepler.” Later in the interview, Einstein added with a booming laugh that a man might often say that he had no vanity, but this too was a kind of vanity because he took such special pride in the fact. “It is like childishness,” said Einstein. “Many of us are childish; some of us more childish than others. But if a man knows he is childish, then that knowledge can be a mitigating factor.”
b) Fascinating Physics Facts about Snow Flakes
This is a Perimeter Institute (PI) has put together 14 fascinating Physics Facts about Snow Flakes.  At the end of the article, there is a videolink to a 57 min PI lecture on the Secret Life of Snow’
c) The Physics of Knitting 
What do earthquakes, robotics and jumpers have in common? Samuel Poincloux explains why the answer lies with knitting – and how stretching a knitted material is rooted in mechanics

If you’ve ever done a PhD in physics, you’ll know you usually begin by ploughing through lots of background reading, learning how to use your lab’s equipment and maybe even carrying out some provisional experiments. My PhD was a bit different. I started off watching YouTube videos to improve my needlework.

The project I had accepted at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris was about the mechanics of knitted fabrics. The research was to have two sides: a theoretical one to determine what equations described the system; and an experimental one to mechanically test actual knits to guide and verify the theory. The trouble was, I barely knew what a knit was when I accepted the project.

I quickly learnt that there are differences – both structural and mechanical – between a knit (such as a jumper, scarf or hat) and a weave (such as a table cloth, shirt or pair of jeans). In fact, those differences are easy to demonstrate. If you pull on your jeans, you should notice that the weave hardly deforms. Pull on a knitted jumper, in contrast, and it can be effortlessly elongated by up to two times its length. The stretchiness of a knit is also obvious if you wrap it around something: by locally stretching, a knit can fit complex shapes; a woven fabric, however, has to fold to conform to it.

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