Online Enrichment, Prac ideas. Vicphys News 2/T2/19

The Perimeter Institute’s free online enrichment courses on Gravity and Quantum Physics may interest some VCE students, bookings close this Friday.
Resources and presentations from the Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service, held during the holidays, are now on the website.
Bookings for the Girls in Physics Breakfasts are closing soon. The closing date for the Bendigo event is next week and the Wodonga and Melbourne Breakfasts in the weeks after that.  The Melbourne Breakfast in also filling quickly.  The date and speaker for the Clayton Breakfast in August are announced below.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Thursday, 9th May 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. Resources from the Beginning Physics Teachers’ In-Service
  2. Free Online Enrichment Courses for Students on Gravity and Quantum Physics. Closes soon
  3. Events for Students and the General Public

4. Physics News from the Web
a)  LHCb bags another pentaquark
b) Billion volt thunderstorm studied using muons
c) Jest of air reduce drag on a model car


1.  Resources from the Beginning Physics Teachers’ In-Service
The In-Service held during the recent holidays attracted 35 participants. This year’s program had additional sessions.
  • A presentation on probing and enhancing students’ conceptual understanding by Dr Barbara McKnnon from Kew High School and
  • A display of 21 practical activities from across all Units and most Area of Study.
The powerpoint and the worksheets for the activities are on our website.
2.  Free Online Enrichment Courses on Gravity and Quantum Physics from the Perimeter Institute. Closes soon.
The Perimeter Institute (PI) offers two courses for keen senior students.  The closing date is this Friday morning, Toronto Time.  The courses run from 3rd May to 20th May.Online Course Format: Both two-week courses include a series of modules with video content, slides with interactive exercises, and opportunities to test your knowledge including Predict-Observe-Compare (POC) activities. Feedback from your course instructor and discussion forums with fellow students are all part of the experience. Each course takes approximately 10-15 hours to complete.Gravity Course Abstract: What keeps us stuck to the Earth? Gravity right?! But what is gravity? In this course, we will explore competing models of gravity from Newton’s intuitive force model to Einstein’s ground-breaking curved spacetime model. This course is an introduction to the key concepts that underlie general relativity and is recommended for students with at least a conceptual introduction to Newton’s force model for gravity. Topics include: process of science, model building, Newton’s force model, the equivalence principle, curved spacetime.

Quantum World Course Abstract: What is weird and mysterious about the Quantum World? In this course, we will explore quantum subatomic particles and discover that on small scales, the Universe is different! This is an introductory course to quantum mechanics and includes topics like the double slit experiment, electromagnetic spectrum, photons, photoelectric effect, wave-particle duality and the de Broglie relation.

Students can click here to register and for more details.

2.    Events for Students and the General Public

a) Girls in Physics Breakfasts

This is our fourth year of running Girls in Physics Breakfasts. The aims of the program are:

  • to encourage girls in Years 10 to 12 to appreciate the diversity of careers that studying physics enables,
  • to appreciate the satisfaction that comes from a challenging career in science, and
  • to be aware of the success that women can achieve in the physical sciences.

There are six remaining Breakfasts to be held in May this year at Geelong, Warrnambool, Bendigo, Wodonga,  central Melbourne and now one at Clayton.  Bookings for Geelong close this afternoon.

At each breakfast, students share a table with two or three women who are either have a career in physics or engineering, or are at university as undergraduates or postgraduates.  At the table, discussion ensures about what the women do, what they like about it as well as their training, future prospects, etc.  As a student at one of  early breakfasts told her teacher, ‘I was talking to a guest at my table and her career sounded so amazing.  Then I realised that in 8 years that could be me.  I got so excited.

There is also a guest speaker at each breakfast who presents a talk on her area of expertise.  After the talk there are activities on Careers in STEM and Q & A panel with three of the guests.

The dates, venues, speakers, topics and Trybooking links are:

  • 3rd May, Geelong Speaker: Dr Ellen Moon, Deakin University, Topic: Science in the Antarctic: Where can STEM take you? Closing date: 3:30pm Tuesday, 30th AprilTrybookings
  • 10th May, Warrnambool Speaker: Dr Gail Iles, RMIT, Topic: Human spaceflight and science in space. Closing date: 10:00am, Weds, 8th May Trybookings
  • 17th May, Bendigo Speaker: Dr Judy Hart, University of  New South Wales, Topic: Developing new materials for renewable energy. Closing date: 10:00am, Fri, 10th May. Trybookings
  • 24th May, Wodonga Speaker Adelle Wright, ANU, Topic: Nuclear Fusion: An Australian Perspective. Closing date: 10:00am, Thurs, 16th May.  Trybookings
  • 30th May, Melbourne Speaker: Dr Susie Sheehy, University of Melbourne and Oxford University, Topic: Colliding worlds: Using particle physics to cure cancer. Closing date:10:00am, Tues, 21st May. Trybookings
  • 28th August, Clayton Speaker: Dr Helen Maynard-Casely, ANSTO, Topic: Yet to be finalised.  Bookings are yet to open.

Cost: $15 per student with teachers free, a discounted fee is available to schools with a low ICSEA rank.
See the specific Trybookings link for details.

b) 8th May, Amusement Park Physics Day, 10am – 2pm, Gumbuya World
Ciderhouse is organising a physics day at Gumbuya World at Tynong North in Gippsland.
Cost: Students: $39 includes admission, rides and lunch
Teachers: $12 includes admission, tea and coffee and lunch
There are also professional development sessions on i) electronic data analysis by Doug Bail (90 min) and ii) e-learning by Pearson Publishing.
For more details and to book click here and then click “Gumbuya World bookings’

c) 30th May, First Nations, First Astronomers. 5:30pm – 7:30pm, Swinburne University
Join Gunnai and Yorta Yorta custodian Uncle Wayne Thorpe, Kamilaroi woman and astrophysics student Krystal De Napoli, and cultural astronomer Dr Duane Hamacher for an open panel discussion about the many layers of Indigenous astronomical knowledge and exciting happenings in the world of astronomy and space.
Venue: ATC 101 . See map.
To register, click here.
d) 21st June, Vivid Lives of Stars. 6:30pm, Swinburne University
PhD Student, Poojan Agrawal, will present a talk at AMDC301.  The abstract is not yet available.  Check here for details.

5.   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) LHCb bags another pentaquark

A new pentaquark – an exotic hadron comprising five quarks – has been discovered by physicists working on the LHCb experiment at CERN. LHCb scientists have also found that a feature in their data that had previously been associated with one pentaquark could be evidence for two pentaquarks with similar masses.

Preliminary analysis of the three pentaquarks suggests that they have a molecular structure that resembles a meson bound to a baryon. Gaining a better understanding of how pentaquarks are bound together could provide important insights into the strong force and quantum chromodynamics.

b ) Billion-volt thunderstorm studied using muons

A thundercloud with a record-breaking voltage of 1.3 GV has been observed by physicists in India and Japan.  Sunil Gupta at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai and colleagues calculated the voltage from changes in the intensity of atmospheric muons detected by the GRAPES-3 muon telescope. The existence of such high voltages could explain the origin of the mysterious, high-energy gamma-ray flashes, which are occasionally seen in cloud tops during thunderstorms.

 c)  Jets of air reduce drag on a model car

Blasting jets of air many times a second from the back of a car is an energy-efficient way of reducing air drag – according to a team of academic and industrial researchers. The team is now doing further studies of the effect to see if it could be used to create vehicles that are more energy efficient.

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