Managing Learning if schools shut – VicPhys News 5/T1/20

The coronavirus is beginning to impact schools.  This newsletter has information on a variety of ways for schools and teachers to manage the learning of their students if their school is closed.

The presence of the virus also means that the remaining Girls in Physics Breakfasts will be postponed, but the Beginning Physics Teachers’ In-Service on Tuesday, 31st March will still go ahead as the expected numbers
are within acceptable limits.

The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Wednesday, 22nd April at St Columba’s College, Essendon, starting at 5:30pm.   If you wish to come, please email Vicphysics

Table of Contents

  1.  Managing Learning if Schools shut
  2. Seeking a Physics Teacher? Seeking a job?
  3. Events for Students and General Public
  •  Girls in Physics Breakfasts in 2020  Postponed 
  •  VCE Lectures for Students, 6:00pm Thursdays, University of Melbourne
  • Solar Cell Challenge: An experimental challenge for students from Years 7 – 12
  •  Girls in Physics Day, Friday, 17th July, University of Melbourne

4. Events for Teachers

  • Vicphysics Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service, Tuesday, 31st March, Kew High School
  • Road to Zero Teacher In-Service 4:30pm, 17th March, Melbourne Museum

5. Physics News from the Web

  •  CERN Physicists close in on antimatter-matter symmetry
  •   The secret to flying carbon-free
  •   Double Slits with Single Atoms

1.  Managing Learning if Schools shut
While the strategies of minimising student movement in hallways between classes and the staggering of recess and lunchtime may be effective for ‘social distancing’, schools and teachers are beginning to plan for the possibility that their school may be closed for a short time.
There are a few strategies to support your students to continue their learning.

  1. In-house online support
  2. Install / construct your own in house online support
  3. Use existing online courses
  4. Useful Websites and Youtube videos – Vicphysics Webpage.

a) In-house online support
Some schools and teachers have developed their own online support to complement the classroom experience.  This could be enhanced if the school is closed for an extended time.

b) Install / Construct your own in-house support
Last week the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) sent an email to all its members with a list of resources detailing possible strategies for adapting to this new situation.  While not all are specifically about physics, there is useful advice on supporting students at this difficult time.  Also while many are for university colleges, there is applicability to a school setting.

i) The article: ‘So you want to temporarily teach Online’
This article from ‘Inside Higher Ed’ provides strategies and advice on:

  • Basic student needs
  • Basic instructor needs
  • Student to student communication
  • Interactive learning
  • Prepare your own space

ii) A spreadsheet with links to remote teaching resources from more than 130 colleges and universities in the US.
Most entries have a brief description, many have an administrative focus, rather than a disciplinary emphasis, but there should be some of interest that show what is possible.  For example, Francesco Valotto has an e-learning platform for primary schools, Bryant University has a free self-paced module to help those teaching on-line for the first time., Florida State has ‘Basics for quickly getting a course on line’.

Several links address the issue of ‘Academic Continuity’ and provide advice and suggestions.  Some have established continuity procedures because they in the ‘hurricane belt’.

iii) Kudu
Online course provider, Kudu, is offering free services to educators who may need to switch from in-person classes to online classes, but it may be only for US or for universities.  Under ‘View Available Subjects’ it has a few physics courses on astronomy and physics for Life Sciences and Physics for Scientists and Engineers, which may be of value to VCE students.

c) Use existing online coursesThere are several courses offered by university connected organisations such as edX and the Open University in the UK.  Many of these are free and pitched at pre-tertiary level.  The courses can be substantial in time commitment, ranging from 4 hour to 40 hours, but the whole course does not need to be completed.  The courses are well managed, have quality educational material and usually involve assignments, etc.  So far over a dozen have been identified.  Too many to list here, so the list plus the rest of this section can be accessed here.

d) Useful Websites and Youtube Videos – Vicphysics
Our Vicphysics website has a webpage titled ‘Useful Websites and Youtube videos’ that has numerous resources that can be productively used by students while at home.  The link is here .

2. 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.

  • There is one Government schools seeking a physics teacher, 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.

3.  Events for Students and General Public

aGirls in Physics Breakfasts for 2020 Postponed

The remaining Girls in Physics Breakfast for 2020 have been postponed.  It is hoped to re-schedule them in Term 3.
At one of the breakfasts held last week, some of the women who were to share a table with the students had to withdraw as the company they work for, had just placed a restriction on attending gatherings > 50. The possibility of the same thing occurring with future guests, along with the uncertainty of schools being closed at the time of a breakfast and the risk of parental reluctance to permit their daughters to attend a breakfast, meant the future events had to be postponed.
Those who have already booked will receive their payments back in a day or so.

bVCE 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) 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.
i) 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 and also whether these events will proceed, please click here.

c) 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!

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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4.  Events for Teachers

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.  This event will proceed.

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 and also to check whether this event will proceed..

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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) CERN physicists close in on antimatter–matter asymmetry

Physicists have taken another step forward in the search for signs that antimatter behaves differently to matter — and so might explain why the universe appears to consist almost exclusively of the latter. Researchers at the CERN particle-physics laboratory in Switzerland used laser spectroscopy to scrutinize the fine structure of antihydrogen, revealing with an uncertainty of a few percent that the tiny difference in energy of states – known as the Lamb shift – is the same as it is in normal hydrogen.

The fact that the cosmos seems to contain very little antimatter – even though equal quantities of that and ordinary matter should have been produced following the Big Bang – is a major outstanding problem in physics. Generating, trapping and then measuring atoms of antimatter offers a relatively new way of probing this asymmetry. In particular, anomalies in the spectra of antiatoms compared with the known results from ordinary matter could point to a violation of what is known as charge–parity–time (CPT) symmetry.

b) The secret to flying carbon-free
Recent innovations in engine development.  How realistic will it be to de-carbonise air travel.

c)  Double Slits with Single Atoms.
Thomas Young’s double-slit experiment is famous for demonstrating the principle of interference. Andrew Murray explains why it’s now possible to carry out an equivalent experiment using lasers that have excited individual rubidium atom.



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