Solar Cell Challenge, VicPhys News – 4/T1/20

The newsletter has information about a new competition that has an experimental and investigative focus. It is the Solar Cell Challenge.

There are also three PD events coming up this month.  Also the three articles in ‘Physics on the Web’ are thought provoking.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Wednesday, 11th March at St Columba’s College, Essendon, starting at 5:30pm, with a PD starting at 6:30pm.   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. Solar Cell Challenge: Experimental Challenges for Students Years 7 – 12
  2. The Physics of Olympic Sports: A Perimeter Institute poster
  3. Seeking a Physics Teacher? Seeking a job?
  4. Events for Students and General Public
  •  Statisticians: the Quiet Heroes of Research, 7:30pm, 11th March, University of Melbourne
  • Girls in Physics Breakfasts in 2020
  •  VCE Lectures for Students, 6:00pm Thursdays, University of Melbourne
  •  Girls in Physics Day, Friday, 17th July, University of Melbourne

5. Events for Teachers

  • PD at Vicphysics Meeting, 6:30pm, Wednesday, 11th March, St Columba’s College, Essendon
  • Vicphysics Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service, Tuesday, 31st March, Kew High School
  • Road to Zero Teacher In-Service 4:30pm, 17th March, Melbourne Museum

6. Physics News from the Web

  •  Nanowire device generates electricity from ambient humidity
  •  Novel photovoltaics generate electrical power from thermal sources
  • Our universe has anti-matter partner on the other side of the Big Bang, say physicists from Perimeter Institute

1.  Solar Cell Challenge: An experimental challenge for Students from Years 7 – 12
The ARC Centre of Excellence in Exciton Science is offering two challenges, one for Years 7 – 9 and one for Years 10 – 12.   ‘Students are doing hands-on science and converting light into electricity!  This challenge gets the students thinking creatively around manipulating experimental variables, producing a scientific product and communicating process and findings through video’.
The Years 7 – 9 challenge offers some free equipment and so should be checked out.
In the Years 10 – 12 challenge, students in teams of 2 – 3 create their own solar cell.  S
tudents will need to ‘apply a range of techniques and create a method to enhance an existing or new simple solar cell.  Students record their journey and show their scientific product in action via 2 – 3 min video, which is judged’.
As the product produced in this Challenge is open, equipment is not provided to teams.  Therefore, there is no cost per team to enter.  However, teams/schools must supply and purchase their own equipment, the total cost of which should come to no less than $50 per team.
Schools can enter up to 6 teams.
Time line:

  • Registrations close       3 April
  • Teacher resources and judging criteria released   6 April 
  • Resource package send out      6 April (week of) 
  • Submissions open       14 April 
  • Submissions close       26 June 
  • Winners announced      Late July

Prizes   For the overall winning teams, their schools will receive a starting grant to initiate a new and/or enhance an existing energy sustainability initiative.  The schools will also receive a researcher visitor to speak to a group of students and/or at an assembly.   Individual student winners will receive a prize pack of goodies depending on the category!

2. The Physics of Olympic Sports: A Perimeter Institute poster
Their popular ‘Science of Sport’ poster has been revamped for the 2020 Olympics. A high resolution pdf can be downloaded from here.  There is no cost.  Also check out their other posters, including their series of  Women in Physics.
They also have classroom activities on the following topics: Astrophysics, Electricity & magnetism, Particle physics, Quantum, Relativity and Waves

3. 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.

  • Ballarat and Queen’s Anglican Grammar School is seeking a physics teacher to start in Term 2, closing date: 13th March.
  • There are three Government schools seeking a physics teacher, Baimbridge College, Kurunjang Secondary College and Mount Erin 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.

4.  Events for Students and General Public

a)  Statisticians: The Quiet Heroes of Research, 7:00pm, 11th March, University of Melbourne
Speaker: Dr Rheanna Mainzer,  University of Melbourne

Abstract: From lottery scandals, to tea tasting etiquette and a mathematical Christmas problem that almost tore a family apart. In this talk, Dr Rheanna Mainzer will share some of her favourite stories that champion mathematics and statistics. She will also explain what a statistician does – and why it matters – to demonstrate that statistics is much more than crunching numbers. This talk is suitable for all ages and mathematical backgrounds.
Venue: B117 Lecture Theatre, Glyn Davis Building, Masson Rd, University of Melbourne
To book: click here.

b) 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:

  • 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: 2nd June with speaker: Dr Dianne Ruka from Monash University on ‘Future Computing and Low Energy Electronics’.
  • 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 .

c) VCE Lectures for Students, 6:00pm, Thursdays, University of Melbourne
The lectures are on fortnightly through to the end of Term 3.  They are preceded at 5:30pm with the offer of snacks and drink.  The lectures finish at 7:00pm  They are held in the Hercus Theatre in the Physics Dept at the University of Melbourne.  Teachers and parents are welcome.
i) 12th March: How will Physics save the world from deadly viruses? : Lecturer: Dr Roger Rassool.  To register click here.
ii) 26th March: Glow in the dark – Using fluorescence to see DNA in a living cell : Lecturer: Dr Liz Hinde. Dr Hinde explores how we are using fluorescence microscopy methods to visualise how molecules move through the 3D DNA network of a living cell.  To register, click here.
iii) 23rd April: The Search for Dark Matter.  Lecturer: Associate Professor Philip Urquijo.  Prof Urquijo take you through the mysteries of dark matter and what we are doing in Australia to find out what it is. To register, click here.
For details of the full program, click here.

d) Girls in Physics Day, Friday 17th July, University of Melbourne
urther information regarding program and registration will be sent out in the coming months. Please feel free to register your interest by email to the University of Melbourne.

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5.  Events for Teachers

a) PD at Vicphysics meeting, 6:30pm, Wednesday, 11th March, St Columba’s College, Essendon.
In the second half of the next Vicphysics meeting, Sandor Kazi from Melbourne Girls’ College, will talk about what he learned from seeing Eric Mazur in the US.  Eric Mazur is a distinguished Physics educator who has had a profound impact on physics pedagogy.  Click here to register.

b) 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.

c) Road to Zero Teacher In-Service, 4:30pm – 6:00pm, Tuesday, 17th March, Melbourne Museum
Teachers of VCAL and Year 9 and 10 Science and Health & PE are invited to a preview of the Road to Zero Education Experience at Melbourne Museum on Tuesday 17 March.  A TAC and Melbourne Museum partnership, Road to Zero provides an engaging and immersive exploration of the scientific principles of road safety and public health campaign development using the latest technologies.

The programs are specifically designed to address the Victorian Science and Health & PE curriculum for Year 9, 10 and VCAL.  The experience allows students to work out for themselves (in a safe environment) why bodies aren’t built to survive the impact of severe crashes and how we can create a safer future.

Preview event highlights
*  A guided tour of the Road to Zero Experience Space.
*  See the contemporary Learning Studios where students can reflect on their learning and apply it to curriculum-linked activities.
*  Learn about pre- and post-visit resources that support Road to Zero excursions and incursions.
*  Opportunity to network and socialise with peers and learning specialists.
*  Light refreshments will be served.

There is no cost, click here for more details and to register.

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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.

Nanowire device generates electricity from ambient humidity
Scientists in the US claim to have developed a device that can generate electricity from moisture in the air. The device, based around a thin film of electrically conductive protein nanowires, can produce continuous electrical power for around 20 hr, before self-recharging. The researchers say that such technology could provide clean energy without the restrictions on location and environmental conditions of other renewable energy solutions such as solar cells .

The device consists of a roughly 7 µm thin film of protein nanowires, harvested from the microorganism Geobacter sulfurreducens, deposited on a gold electrode with an area of around 25 mm2. A smaller, roughly 1 mm2, electrode is placed on top of the nanowire film.

Novel photovoltaics generate electrical power from thermal sources
A new type of photovoltaic device can generate useful amounts of electrical power from sources that radiate heat at moderate temperatures. So say researchers at Sandia National Laboratories in the US, who succeeded in recovering power densities between 27–61 
μW/cm2 from thermal sources at 250–400°C. The new energy-harvesting technology might be used on waste heat from nuclear power plants or chemical manufacturing facilities. According to Paul Davids, who led the research effort, it could also aid the development of compact thermal power supplies for deep space probes and other remote applications.

Our universe has anti-matter partner on the other side of the Big Bang, say physicists from Perimeter Institute
Our universe could be the mirror image of an antimatter universe extending backwards in time before the Big Bang. So claim physicists in Canada, who have devised a new cosmological model positing the existence of an “antiuniverse” which, paired to our own, preserves a fundamental rule of physics called CPT symmetry. The researchers still need to work out many details of their theory, but they say it naturally explains the existence of dark matter.

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