Welcome back for Term 2. This promises to be a challenging, but hopefully rewarding term as we try out new ways of working. To help, Vicphysics is setting up a Zoom Forum next week for you to share your experiences and successes.
The last two newsletters had information and resources on a variety of ways for schools and teachers to manage the learning of their students when schools are closed. Educational authorities around the world are supporting their teachers and commercial groups are removing paywalls, at least temporarily. This newsletter has additional resources that have come to our attention as well as some of our own.
The next meeting of the Vicphysics Teachers’ Network will be on Wednesday, 22nd April by Video Conference 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)
- More Resources on Managing Learning when Schools are closed
- Zoom Forum for VCE Physics
- Full Access to The Physics Teacher Journal until 30th April
- Tutor sought
- Physics News from the Web
- Silicon-based light emitter has been created
- Nanoscale structures give some butterflies ‘ultra-black’ wings
- Gamma rays and gravitational lensing provide hints of dark matter
1. More Resources on Managing Learning when Schools are closed
The last two newsletters had information on a variety of ways for schools and teachers to manage the learning of their students. Educational associations and commercial groups around the world continue to support teachers.
All these ideas are now on a separate web page and there is a direct link to the page from our home page.
Resources added to the webpage since the last newsletter are:
- Strategies on Practical Activities at home (Vicphysics). An Extract:
- Experiments that can be done at home with household equipment and measuring instruments, e.g. mass: kitchen and bathroom scales, time: watches, mobile phones, length: tape measure, ruler, temperature: room and meat thermometers. Simple motion experiments can be analysed with Tracker. Mobile phone apps are increasingly versatile.
- Record yourself on video doing the experiment with students extracting data from instruments displayed in the video or from measurements that you read out as they are being taken. The students then complete their report on the experiment.
- Use dummy data (individualised) or from student reports from previous years for the students to analyse.
- Experimental planning: Students describe their experimental design, what data they would collect the measuring instruments they would use and provide a sample analysis of the data.
- Computer simulations
- List of Practical Activities by Area of Study with suggested adaptations or alternatives for use at Home (Vicphysics)
- Perimeter Institute (PI): Adapting PI resources for Online Classrooms. PI has an extensive range of activities from primary to upper secondary, including a dozen on physics. The webpage provides for each activity details on how it can be adapted for the online classroom.
- Open Stax. Open Stax is a US non-profit educational initiative. They publish high-quality, peer-reviewed textbooks that are free online and low cost in print. They have also developed low-cost, research-based courseware.
They have courses in College Physics, High School Physics and AP Physics as well as Astronomy and University Physics. The first three courses have similar content to each other, which seems comparable to VCE Physics.
Each course offers access to a text in various forms, online, as an app or as a pdf. There are also Instructor resources and Student resources, which sometimes include short videos, assignments and guides. The Astronomy course in its Student resources section has a list of videos with their URLs, grouped by content areas. The list is 25 pages long.
- Adventures of Bungee Bear. A Tracker based activity as an example of what students can do at home. Prepared by Dr Barbara McKinnon, Kew High School.
This webpage will be updated as new resources are identified. If you find any, please pass the details to Vicphysics.
2. Zoom ‘Forum’ for VCE Physics
Vicphysics will host a forum on Zoom on Wednesday, 22nd April from 5:30pm to 6:30pm. If you wish to share your experiences of recent times along with what you have learned, please join the forum.
RSVP: Vicphysics Please include a topic you would like to discuss during the meeting if you have one.
Note: All participants must select ‘video’ for the meeting.
During the Meeting:
- Please use ‘mute’ when you are not talking to eliminate background noise.
- At the bottom of your screen please click on the ‘Participants’ button to open the menu which has a ‘raise your hand’ option
- Use the ‘raise hand’ function if you would like to ask a question or make a comment and the facilitator will call on you.
On the morning of the meeting, we will send out the instructions on how to access the ZOOM meeting to anyone who has RSVP’d. We hope this is an opprtunity for a fruitful exchange.
To assist teachers and researchers during the COVID-19 crisis, The American Institute of Physics (AIP) is offering free full-text access to all its publications including The Physics Teacher until 30th April. To gain access you need to create an account, then visit your profile page to activate your free access. Once in select the menu at top left and look through the list of publications for The Physics Teacher, then select it.
The Physics Teacher is a monthly journal with editions going back to 1963. Each edition has several articles on physics phenomena and teaching strategies as well as teaching figures by Paul Hewitt, a batch of Fermi questions, Pracs with mobile phones and IT in general as well as useful websites.
The March 2020 has articles on i) Human Respiration as a Heat Engine, ii) Rainbows: a graphical approach and iii) Systematic errors in video analysis.
There is an article on ‘Teaching classical mechanics with a smart phone’ in Vol 51, 376 (2013) by Joel Chevrier.
A parent is seeking a tutor for the child doing Year 12 Physics. They live in the Wantirna area. If you are interested, please contact Vicphysics to be put in touch with them.
a) Silicon-based Light emitter has been created
A light-emitting silicon-based material with a direct band gap has been created in the lab, 50 years after its electronic properties were first predicted. With further work, light-emitting silicon-based devices could be used to create low-cost components for optical communications, computing, solar energy and spectroscopy.
Silicon is the wonder material of electronics. It is cheap and plentiful and can be fabricated into ever smaller transistors that can be packed onto chips at increasing densities. But silicon has a fatal flaw when it comes to being used as a light source or a solar cell. The semiconductor has an “indirect” electronic band gap, which means that electronic transitions between the material’s valence and conduction bands involve vibrations in the crystal lattice. As a result, it is very unlikely that an excited electron in the conduction band of silicon will decay to the valence band by emitting light. Conversely, the absorption of light by silicon does not tend to excite valence electrons into the conduction band – a requirement of a solar cell.
In contrast, electronic transitions in direct band gap semiconductors such as Gallium Arsenide do not involve lattice vibrations, so these materials emit copious amounts of light when electrons are excited – and are very good at converting light into electricity.
b) Nanoscale structures give some butterflies ‘ultra-black’ wings
Many male butterflies have exceptionally black wings with optical properties that have long-puzzled scientists. Now researchers in the US found that the wings of at least 10 species have nanoscale structures that increase light absorption and scattering that create the “ultra-black” appearance. These structures may have evolved to enhance the contrast of colour patches used in courtship displays, according to the researchers. Understanding why the wings are so dark could lead to the development of ultra-black synthetic materials.
c) Gamma rays and gravitational lensing provide hints of dark matter
A comparison of data from gravitational lensing and gamma-ray observations has revealed that regions of the sky with greater concentrations of matter emit more gamma rays. The researchers who carried out the work conclude that much of the correlation is likely due to the action of supermassive black holes, but they say that some of the emission may be due to dark matter.