Physics

We have a number of Physics outreach programs for VCE and Year 9 and 10 students available at our Melbourne and Bendigo campuses.

Our workshops are created alongside academics and high school curriculums.

To ensure students and teachers, alike get the most out of our workshop we have endeavoured to create a series of workshops that cover a broad range of subjects including, but not limited to electromagnetism, radioactivity and synchotron science.

Our workshops give students a chance to learn about new and emerging technologies through hands on experience.

  • A tour of the University’s physics facilities can be added to any of the physics workshops.

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Middle years

Electromagnetism - design and build a spinning motor

Curriculum: 9 and 10, General Science

Location:

  • Any location (remote session)

Duration: Full day

Cost: $30 per student

Class capacity: 30 students

In this full day program students will:

  • learn the principles of electromagnetism
  • design, build and test an electromagnet and a spinning electric motor

The program is delivered in two parts, each including practical activities designed to illustrate an essential principle of electromagnetism. Introducing each principle individually ensures clarity of message, and the hands-on learning gives students a feel for the invisible forces involved. Students then apply these principles in combination to maximise their final results.

  1. The focus of the first session is on generating electricity and applying its associated magnetic field. It comprises five practical activities. Students apply the principles demonstrated to design, build and power their own electromagnets with capacity to lift weights of 100 to 200 grams.
  2. The focus of the second session is on forces on a conductor in a magnetic field, with three practical activities delivering principles students need to apply to design and build their own electric motors.

This workshop addresses both strands of the Victorian Curriculum, reinforcing science understanding as well as science inquiry skills.

*Student notes and teacher guide are provided.

Far labs

Curriculum: 9 and 10, General Science

Location:

Duration: 1.5 hours

Cost: free

Class capacity: 25 students

La Trobe University’s Department of Physics has recently embedded The Freely-Accessible Remote Laboratories, or FAR Labs program, within its Physics program to allow high school students around Australia to use high-end scientific equipment without leaving their classrooms.

Designed to complement other workshops in our Outreach Program, FAR Labs is built around an online hub through which students can engage with contemporary scientific topics and supplement their learning via interactive, equipment-based laboratories.

The experiments are highly interactive with:

  • video feedback
  • remote control of equipment
  • data collection occurring in real time

Students log on to a dedicated website to select one of several experiments, and choose a level of engagement appropriate to their year level.

A series of experiments and supporting materials,(including student and teacher notes), facilitate engaging and relevant science experiments that can be completed with minimal supervision.

Synchrotron science - it's brighter than the sun

Curriculum: 9 and 10, General Science

Location:

Duration: Full day

Cost: $30 per student

Class capacity: 25 students

Middle Years students learn how the Australian Synchrotron works by participating in a beamline experiment from a remote access laboratory at La Trobe University.

During this workshop students will:

  • view live data collection
  • control parts of a real science X-ray diffraction experiment via remote access.
  • grow their own lysozyme crystal – a simple protein crystal that is often used for instrument validation to test new experimental approaches.

Students will also attend a lecture introducing Synchrotron science, with general background on the Synchrotron and its different beamlines, followed by a specific explanation of how some beamlines are used in X-ray crystallography.

Synchrotron science and x-ray crystallography

Curriculum: 9 and 10, General Science

Location:

Duration: 3 hours

Cost: $24 per student

Class capacity: 25 students

In this workshop students learn how the Synchrotron and X-rays can be used to see inside molecules and work out their atomic structure, using a technique called X-ray crystallography. This is the same technique that was used to find the double-helix structure of DNA.

Students will:

  • grow their own crystals in a hands-on experiment
  • learn about X-ray crystallography
  • learn about the Synchrotron
  • attend a lecture introducing Synchrotron science, with general background on the Synchrotron and its different beamlines
  • listen to a specific explanation of how some beamlines are used in X-ray crystallography.

VCE

Photoelectric effect

Curriculum: 12, VCE Physics Unit 4

Location:

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: $15 per student

Class capacity: 20 students

Using a mercury discharge lamp and a diffraction grating, students select discrete spectral colours to fall on a metal plate in a special detector that records the stopping potential for each colour. By plotting the stopping potential against colour frequency, students can calculate the slope from which Planck’s constant can be determined. As a further test of Einstein’s theory, graduated filters are used to investigate the dependence of ‘stopping potential’ with ‘light intensity’.

Radioactivity

Curriculum: Year 11, VCE Physics Unit 1

Locations:

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: $15 per student

Class capacity: 20 students

Students use a Geiger tube to investigate the strength and randomness of emission from the nuclear radiation sources:

  • alpha
  • beta
  • gamma

Using a variety of graduated filter materials, they determine the type of nuclear source from its penetrability, and also, if required the linear attenuation coefficient of the filter material.

Transmission of electrical power

Curriculum: Year 11, VCE Physics Unit 1

Locations:

Duration: 2 hours

Cost: $15 per student

Class capacity: 30 students

In this investigation students safely investigate the transmission of electrical power using a kit model that simulates long distance power transmission through resistive transmission lines.

The kit allows students to transmit power at two different line voltages, by enabling or bypassing a pair of step-up and step-down transformers that deliver power to two different loads (lamps). Students make voltage and current measurements at every stage of the transmission process and compare their measurements and calculations with theoretical expectations.

*Teachers are provided with worked solutions and expected measurements.

For enquiries please contact SHE outreach (+61 03 9479 6516), join our mailing list or download our brochure [PDF 2.3MB]