Physics Events: VicPhys News 1/1/20

The Physics Teachers’ Conference is on again with a bumper crop of workshops. Book early to get your preferences.
There are also more Girls in Physics Breakfasts on offer across Victoria this year, with three this term, so check the dates, promote it to your students and make a booking.
This newsletter also has information on some very promising resources. Check them out.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Wednesday, 12th February at St Columba’s College, Essendon, starting at 5:30pm.   If you wish to come, please email Vicphysics

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

Table of Contents

  1. Girls in Physics Breakfasts in 2020
  2. 2020 Physics Teachers Conference
  3. Observation in Quantum Physics and Students’ misconceptions
  4. Spark for Physics Teaching: IOP source of over 2000 resources
  5. Free Online PD for Science and Physics teachers
  6. Seeking a Physics Teacher? Seeking a job?
  7. Events for Students and General Public
  • Physics Days at Luna Park: 3rd March – 6th March, 2020

8. Events for Teachers

  • Vicphysics Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service, Tuesday, 31st March, Kew High School
  • Climate Across the Curriculum, Friday, 14th February, Fremantle, WA

9. Physics News from the Web

  • The secrets of synchronised pendulums
  • The physics of public opinion
  • Smart contact lenses power up
1. Girls in Physics Breakfasts for 2020
2020 will be the fifth year of Girls in Physics Breakfasts. With the support of a Community Grant from Bank Australia, Vicphysics is able to continue the regional component and expand it to Mildura. The details for the program for 2020 are:

  • Mildura: Tuesday, 10th March with speaker: Dr Suzie Sheehy from the University of Melbourne and Oxford University on ‘Colliding Worlds: Using particle physics to cure cancer’.
  • Ballarat: Friday, 13th March with speaker: Hilary Wilson from the Bureau of Meteorology on ‘Measuring the atmosphere to predict the weather’
  • Geelong: Wednesday, 18th March with speaker: Dr Elizabeth Hinde from the University of Melbourne on ‘Glow in the Dark: Using fluorescence to observe DNA in a living cell
  • Wodonga: Friday, 17th April with speaker: Dr Judy Hart from the University of New South Wales on ‘Developing new materials for renewable energy’
  • Warrnambool: Friday, 1st May with speaker: Emeritus Professor Frances Separovic AO from the University of Melbourne on ‘MRI of Molecules: Biophysics meets Cell Chemistry’.
  • Bendigo: Friday, 18th May with speaker: Dr Gail Iles from RMIT on ‘Human spaceflight and science in space’.
  • Monash University: Late May with speaker: Dr Dianne Ruka from Monash University on ‘Future Computing and Low Energy Electronics’ with the date to be confirmed by the end of 2019.
  • Central Melbourne: Term 3 with the Australian Institute of Physics Women in Physics International lecturer for 2020 to be announced in April 2020.

Breakfasts with confirmed dates and speakers can now be booked.  Information is now on the Vicphysics website.
At a Girls in Physics Breakfast, students from Years 10 to 12 share a table with two or three women with careers in physics or engineering or still at university.  In addition to the conversation at the table and the talk there are also activities on Careers in STEM.

Cost per student is $15 with the first teacher free. The cost for additional teachers was $15 each. A discount to $5 per student is available for schools with a low ICSEA rank. Discounts can be applied for by emailing Vicphysics .Max number of students per school: To enable more schools to participate, there was an initial maximum of six (6) students per school. For regional events up to 12 students can be accommodated.

Bookings must be made through Trybooking. The link is the Vicphysics website.

Note: Payment needs to be made at the time of booking, so a school credit card or personal credit card will be required. School Orders are not accepted. There is a small Trybooking surcharge. If a school subsequently needs an invoice number for their accounts, or if a teacher is making the payment and needs a receipt for reimbursement, please contact Vicphysics

2.  2020 Physics Teachers Conference: Friday, 14th February, La Trobe University, Saturday, 15th February, various venues

The Program and Registration Form for next year’s Physics Teachers’ Conference are now available at STAV and on the Vicphysics website.

The program has a large number of workshops on offer, with many offered twice in the program.
The program includes:

  • An opening address on Light and Shade: Revolutionising medical imaging by exploring the wave nature of light by Dr Kaye Morgan, Monash University
  • Real World Physics Forum: Tequila and a microwave oven – how to grow a diamond and apply physics in the real world by Dr Alaistair Stacey, RMIT
  • 54 workshops across four sessions including a review of the 2019 Physics Exam by Andrew Hansen, the Chief Assessor, which is one of fifteen repeated workshops.
  • Extensive display of texts and equipment.
  • Saturday program of excursion tasters to the Australian Synchrotron and the Victorian Space Science Education Centre and a two hour medical physics in-service at Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.

Cost: STAV Individual member: $192, STAV School subscriber: $310, Non-STAV member: $336, Retired teacher and full-time student: $78.

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3. Observation in Quantum Physics and Students’ misconceptions
The UK journal ‘Physics Education’ has occasional articles which are marked ‘open access’, which means you do not need to pay the subscription fee to read the article.  One such recent article is titled ‘Observation in Quantum Physics: Challenges for upper secondary students in discussing electrons as waves’.

The article explores a difficulty that many students have with this aspect of quantum physics.  The abstract below suggests it is worth a read.

Abstract: Quantum physics is challenging for young students, but also a source of fascination. Observation is a key concept in order to understand how principles and experimental results in quantum physics differ from what we are used to in classical physics and everyday experiences. In this study we investigate how pre-university physics students understand the concept of observation in the case of the famous double-slit experiment with electrons and interpretations of its results. We found that a conception of observation as looking, meaning a passive registration, is prevalent among students. This causes serious problems in understanding quantum physics and leads to very unproductive speculations that links to mysticism. Some students considered observation as measurement involving some sort of apparatus, but very few expressed the key idea of measurement as interaction. We discuss how a more explicit discussion of what observation means in quantum physics can benefit students’ understanding of principles in quantum physics and their philosophical consequences.

4. Spark for Physics Teaching: IOP source of over 2000 Resources
The Institute of Physics (IOP) has set up a website called IOPSpark with over 2000 resources, but it has much more than that.

The Misconceptions section lists 68 misconceptions and for each of these, there are diagnostic resources, resources to address it and references to educational research.

The main section of the webpage covers 7 content areas from Earth and Space to Quantum and Nuclear.  In each of these areas, resources can be searched by age group and type of resource, including i) Teaching guidance, ii) Physics narrative, iii) Practical activity, iv) Lesson, v) Classroom activity, vi) Diagnostic questions, vii) Glossary definition, viii) Stories from Physics.

5. Free online PD for Science teachers
The UK’s National STEM Learning Centre runs online PD courses for science teachers throughout the year.  The courses are free, run for about three weeks and require about 3 hours work per week. With a small payment you can get an upgrade which provides you with a certificate and on-going access to the course materials.

  • Teaching Practical Science: Physics, began 27th January, but you can join now. (3 weeks, 3 hours per week)
  • The Discovery of the Higgs Boson, begins 10th Feb, (7 weeks, 5 hours per week)
  • How do planes fly?, already started, but you can join now (4 week, 4 hours per week)
  • The science of nuclear energy, begins 27th April (4 weeks, 3 hours per week)

Click here for the above physics related courses.

  • Managing the Practical Classroom in Secondary Science, begins 16th March (3 weeks, 3 hours per week)

Click here for the above science related course.

6. Seeking a Physics Teacher? Seeking a job?
Last year 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.  Several schools placed notices.
The web page also lists the Government schools seeking a physics teachers, currently there are two.  This web page will be updated every weekend.
The webpage also has a link on how schools can register a position and also lodge a payment for this service.

7.  Events for Students and General Public

a) Physics Days at Luna Park: 3rd March – 6th March2020
The dates for 2020 are Tuesday, 3rd March to Friday, 6th March.
Bookings are open for next year’s Physics Days at Luna Park, click on ‘Events’..
An aerobatic display by a member of the Roulettes has been requested, but confirmation is often not provided before February.
The Silly Serpent has been removed, two rides have been relocated and a new ride has been installed, which is a rotating swing. A worksheet for the ride is being finalised.

If you wish to book a Pasco data logger, please contact Ciderhouse directly.

The Vicphysics website has an article by Prof Ann-Marie Pendrill and others on ‘Teacher Roles during Amusement Park visits‘.  Prof Pendrill from Sweden is an international expert on using amusement parks to teach physics.  She publishes regularly in ‘Physics Education’ and five of her articles are available on ‘open access’ at this website (look under ‘most read’).  One of the articles is on the rotating swing.

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8.  Events for Teachers

a) Vicphysics is organising a Beginning Physics Teacher In-Service on Tues, 31st March at Kew High School.
Cost: Free, with a travel subsidy for regional participants.  Click here for more details and to register.

b) Climate Across the Curriculum, Friday, 14th February, Fremantle, WA
This free workshop is part of  Trans-disciplinary Research Oriented Pedagogy for Improving Climate Studies and Understanding (TROP ICSU) , a global project funded by the International Council of Science.  It aims to improve understanding of climate science by providing educators with teaching tools and lesson plans. TROP ICSU collates and curates a collection of these teaching resources so that teachers in schools and colleges/universities across the world can use them to introduce examples and case studies from climate science and climate change to the teaching of Science, Mathematics, Social Sciences and other disciplines. The goal is not to introduce Climate Education as a stand-alone topic, but to integrate it with the existing curriculum.

This expert workshop aims to contribute to the TROP ICSU repository of teaching tools and lesson plans for use in secondary schools across the world.  A specific focus is lesson plans that are useful for teaching Australian curriculums for Years 7-12 STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics). The workshop will give teachers, climate scientists and curriculum experts the opportunity to work together in small groups to develop these lesson plans and gain from each other’s expertise and experience.  The event is being organised by the ARC Centre for Excellence on Climate Extremes.
Time: 8:30am – 1:00pm
Venue: Esplanade Hotel, Fremantle
There is an optional PD session on climate science in the afternoon.
For more details and to register interest, click here.

9  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.

The fact that pairs of moving pendulums can become synchronized was first observed by the great Dutch scientist Christiaan Huygens back in the 17th century. But as Jonatan Ramirez and Henk Nijmeijer explain, synchronized pendulums still have today’s researchers scratching their heads.
b) The physics of public opinion
In August 2016 the French theoretical physicist Serge Galam published a paper explaining Donald Trump’s unexpected victory in that year’s US Republican primary election. His model also suggested that Trump could win the November presidential election – a view not then supported by analysts or polls (International Journal of Modern Physics B 31 1742015). Galam, who is seen by some as the father of the emerging field of “sociophysics”, is convinced that the dynamics of opinions obey discoverable universal quantitative laws and can be modelled in the same way that scientists model the physical world.
c) Smart contact lenses power up
Flexible contact lenses that incorporate supercapacitors and wireless-charging components are now possible, thanks to newly formulated printable inks that serve as the electrode and electrolyte. Researchers in the Republic of Korea showed that a specific mixture of carbon molecules, polymers and solvent can be used to print a supercapacitor’s electrodes onto a lens with micron-scale precision via a technique called direct ink writing. The same process deposits a UV-cured ionic liquid that functions as the supercapacitor’s electrolyte. As a proof-of-concept, the work could one day lead to smart contact lenses with sensors for health monitoring, or with integrated displays for augmented reality applications

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