More Resources for when schools close. VicPhys News 6/T1/20

The last newsletter had information and resources on a variety of ways for schools and teachers to manage the learning of their students if schools close.  Educational authorities around the world are supporting their teachers.  This newsletter has additional resources that have come to our attention.

Please note: The  Girls in Physics Breakfasts have been postponed and the Beginning Physics Teachers’ In-Service  that was to be held next Tuesday, 31st March has been cancelled.

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

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

Table of Contents

  1.  More Resources on Managing Learning if Schools shut
    • Resources from the Physics Education Group (PEG) of the Australian Institute of Physics
    •  UNESCO Coronavirus School Closures – Solutions
    •   Positive Physics
    •   Interactive Video Vignettes
    •   Physics at Home
    •   Mathscope Coronavirus offer
  2. 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

3. Events for Teachers

  • Vicphysics Beginning Physics Teachers In-Service, Tuesday, 31st March, Kew High School Cancelled

4. Physics News from the Web

  •   COVID-19 How physics is helping the fight against the pandemic
  •  Transverse arch puts a spring in your step, biomechanics study reveals.
  •   Turning water into Watts

1.  More Resources on Managing Learning if Schools shut
The last newsletter had information on a variety of ways for schools and teachers to manage the learning of their students.  Educational authorities around the world are supporting their teachers.
The resources mentioned in the last newsletter plus the ones described below are all available from our webpage: Useful Websites and Youtube videos.  This webpage will be updated as new resources are identified.  If you find any, please pass the details to Vicphysics.  The webpage also has links to several websites constructed by local teachers to support students.

a) Resources from the Physics Education Group (PEG) of the Australian Institute of Physics
PEG is a group of tertiary physics educators who share ideas on course design.  They have circulated to members an eight page list of resources covering:

  • General advice on teaching online
  • Making videos
  • Useful Zoom features
  • Alternatives to Zoom
  • Interactive Online Activities (most of which will be relevant to secondary physics, with some familiar to physics teachers)
  • Simulations
  • Full online courses
  • Using Pre-made videos
  • Alternatives for Pracs
  • Experiments students can do at home
  • Effective Quiz practices
  • Community shared resources

b) UNESCO Coronavirus School Closures – Solutions
This UNESCO website has links and descriptions for the following resources to assist schools:

  • 13 Digital learning management systems, including Blackboard and Edmodo,
  • 6 Systems purpose-built for mobile phones,
  • 10 Systems with strong offline functionality including Coursera and edX,
  • 13 Self-directed learning content including Youtube channels and Khan Academy,
  • 6 Collaboration platforms that support live-video communication including Skype and Zoom and
  • 7 Tools to create digital learning content.

c) Positive Physics
Positive Physics is an award-winning online problem bank.  It has announced that it will provide FREE subscriptions to all teachers and students until the end of July to aid schools with remote learning. Site Features include: i) unique building block method for less intimidation, ii) instant feedback, iii) random number generator to prevent copying, iv) automatic grading, v) differentiation & customization (new!), vi) alignment to fundamentals of AP Physics 1 (US Curriculum).

d) Interactive Video Vignettes
Interactive Video Vignettes (IVVs) are designed as ungraded web-based assignments for introductory physics students. They combine the convenience of online video coupled with video analysis as well as the interactivity of an individual tutorial. Each online vignette addresses a learning difficulty. Most of them take a student about 10 minutes or less to complete. Nine interactive Video Vignettes (IVVs) are available for free on Motion and Electrostatics.

e) Physics at Home
A two page document produced by UK teachers that was downloaded from a thread on ‘Supporting schools during COVID-19’ in the forum ‘‘ . It has a large number of links on Forces, Static and current electricity, Magnetism and electromagnetism, Sound, Light, Matter, Energy and Space Physics. The activities have a middle level flavour.

f) Mathscope Coronavirus offer
Mathspace have announced they will offer their product for schools that have closed.

2.  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 two weeks ago, 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.

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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3.  Events for Teachers

a) Beginning Physics Teacher In-Service on Tues, 31st March at Kew High School. Cancelled
Click here for the resources that would have been provided to participants.

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4.   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) COVID-19 How physics is helping the fight against the pandemic
An article on the developing X-ray crystallography technologies to determine the structure of viruses.

b) Transverse arch puts a spring in your step, biomechanics study reveals.
The stiffness of the human foot is strongly influenced by an arch that spans its width, a new study suggests.  Humans are unique among primates because the inherent stiffness of our feet enables us to efficiently push off the ground when walking and running. The median longitudinal arch (MLA), which runs from the heel to the ball of the foot, is thought to play a critical role in this stiffness.

c) Turning water into Watts
Water covers about 70% of the planet, and much of it, driven by the Sun, is in constant motion. Surface swells ferry energy from one place to another, while tides and currents, as reliable as the sunrise, move vast volumes of water in very short times. The ocean is essentially a natural engine, converting solar energy into mechanical energy. Hardly surprising, then, that for at least 200 years, visionaries have dreamt of harnessing that constant, reliable motion and using it to power the world.

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