Physics Outreach

The School of Physics runs a range of activities for school students and teachers, the general public and our alumni and friends.

Programs run by the Schools include:

  • in-school and on-campus demonstration lectures for primary and secondary schools (MUPPETS, WARP)
  • enrichment studies for secondary school students (Physics VCE Lectures)
  • resources for science teachers
  • Telescopes in Schools run by the Astrophysics Group in partnership with the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-Sky Astrophysics, Quantum Victoria and Melbourne Planetarium
  • Work Experience program for Year 10 students.

Programs run by the University include:

  • University of Melbourne Extension Program (UMEP) in which secondary students may take 1st year university level Physics subjects. More details on the UMEP program.

VCE lectures

Are you interested in a career in science or engineering? Eager to find out more about the world around you? You will find studying Physics a lot easier with these special lectures. They are based directly on the VCE Study Design and presented by outstanding experts in the various areas.

Due to restrictions relating to COVID-19, there will only be a limited number of tickets for the live audience, and only those with tickets will be allowed entry. The lectures will be live streamed, so you can watch from your home or classroom. You will receive the Zoom link upon registration.

Lecture 1: Wednesday 17 March, 4.30pm

Is the world digital or analogue?

In this super digital age we live in, is analogue now obsolete? Of course not! Just ask Faraday, Lorentz, Coulomb and even Einstein.

Join us for an exciting journey as we use the fundamental forces studied in Year 12 physics and measure properties of the natural world. Maybe we can then convince you that the "old" really is better? One thing we do know for certain: in Physics, there is always Uncertainty - as Heisenberg knew.

Watch the recorded lecture

Lecture 2: Wednesday 31 March, 4.30pm

Resistance is futile

From simple electrical circuits (eg a battery connected to a light bulb) to one of the most fascinating states of quantum matter, a superconductor: we will discuss the role of resistance and how these things react to the presence of a magnetic field.

Watch the recorded lecture

Lecture 3: Wednesday 21 April, 4.30pm

A fluorescent plant, shining blue, green and pink under ultraviolet light

Glow in the dark: Using fluorescence to observe DNA in a living cell

Come and join us for the third lecture in the 2021 series as Dr Liz Hinde explores how we are using fluorescence microscopy methods to visualise how molecules move throughout the 3D DNA network of a living cell. Plus, there will be lots of Glow in the Dark demonstrations!

Watch the recorded lecture

Lecture 4: Wednesday 28 April, 4.30pm

Bringing Dark Matter to Light

Join dark matter researchers, Maddy Zurowski and Bill Dix, as they reveal the mysteries of dark matter and how we can use some clever Physics to detect this elusive particle right here in Australia.

Register for the live or online audience

Lecture 5: Wednesday 12 May, 4.30pm

Protecting astronauts from ionising radiation on the mission to Mars

Join our special guest, Professor Guatelli (University of Wollongong and 2021 AIP Women in Physics Lecturer), to find out about the latest research on how we can protect our astronauts from radiation on their long journey to Mars.

Register for the live or online audience

Lecture 6: Wednesday 26 May, 4.30pm

stars streaming past

The biggest explosions of the Universe

Join astrophysicists, Dr Hannah Middleton and Dr Nichole Barry, as they discuss black holes colliding and the greatest explosion we have ever known, the Big Bang! Find out about the basic physics used to measure and understand these out-of-this-world events.

Register for the live or online audience

Work experience at the School of Physics

Our work experience program gives Year 10 students the opportunity to experience a week at the university from the perspective of both a research student and an academic. With three streams to choose from (Astrophysics, Particle Physics and Nanoscale Imaging), there is a specialism to suit any student's interest in physics. Students will undertake a wide variety of fun and educational activities and projects throughout the week that will both engage and inspire.

Applications for this popular program are currently closed. Any further enquiries can be directed to Clare Kenyon clare.kenyon@unimelb.edu.au. Please note that due to staffing and timing constraints, we are unable to offer any work experience outside the official program dates.

Teacher information days

Each year the School hosts an in-service day for secondary science/physics teachers. It is designed to keep you aware of developments in physics research and to keep the School informed regarding the current VCE physics syllabus. Spaces are normally limited so it is best to register as soon as possible.

Due to restrictions related to COVID-19, all events have been postponed until further notice. Check back soon for more information.

Laby VCE Physics Teachers' Grant

The Laby Foundation is offering grants with the aim of building capacity in physics teaching across Victoria, specifically targeting (but not solely limited to) disadvantaged and rural schools. The grants are available to help fund teachers to attend the Focus on Physics In-Service event.

We invite applications from interested schools/teachers. Funding up to $500 per school is available, depending on circumstances. Funds are to cover the registration fee and CRT cost. The number of grants is limited and will be assessed in the order they are received.

Provide your case for sponsorship (a substantiated statement) based on the following selection priorities:

  • Geographical and/or socio-economic disadvantage
  • Access to high-quality professional learning in order to strengthen capacity in teaching physics
  • Low uptake of science subjects at VCE level, particularly physics, and/or low science profile in the school
  • Other disadvantage identified by the applicant.

Complete and submit the online application form, which includes your response to the selection priorities. Your statement addressing one or more of the selection priorities must be concise, totalling no more than 500 words. We are looking for key factors supporting your application, with brief substantiation (e.g. school data, the web address to evidence, a clear statement of fact). A letter advising of the outcome of the grant will be sent to applicants. Successful applicants will be advised on how to arrange payment of funding (CRT and/or travel costs only) which will be paid after the event.

Request an online form now

Contact us

If you would like to contact us regarding a School trip, or borrowing equipment, or anything Physics related, please don't hesitate to email outreach@physics.unimelb.edu.au.