Kickstart Science - Physics

Second Year lab

HSC Physics made accessible for students and teachers. Get inside the experiments, including Superconductors, Generators, Cathode ray tubes and the Wilson cloud chamber. See the experiments of Hertz, Lenz, Michelson-Morley, Einstein and more. All in the setting of a real Physics Lab in the historic Physics Building at the University of Sydney.

Your class will spend a two and half hours going through five experiments per workshop in small groups. Kickstart workshops are hands-on workshops with your own dynamic tutor and cover many dotpoints of the HSC syllabus.

Modules offered:

Please click the headings to see the content for each module.

Ideas to implementations >

The Meissner effect

Hertz's experiment:

  • Describe Hertz’s observation of the effect of a radio wave on a receiver and the photoelectric effect he produced but failed to investigate
  • Outline qualitatively Hertz’s experiments in measuring the speed of radio waves and how they relate to light waves
  • Identify the relationships between, frequency, speed of light and wavelength: c = f λ
  • Solve problems and analyse information using: c = f λ Photoelectric effect
  • Identify Einstein’s contribution to quantum theory.
  • Explain the particle model of light in terms of photons with particular energy and frequency
  • Solve problems and analyse information using: E = hf
  • Selecting and using appropriate media to present data and information

Cathode rays:

  • Identify that moving charged particles in a magnetic field experience a force
  • Outline Thomson’s experiment to measure the charge : mass ratio of an electron

Photo Electric Effect:

  • Identify data sources gather, process and present information to summarise the use of the photoelectric effect in: – solar cells
  • Identify data sources, gather, process and analyse information and use available evidence to assess Einstein’s contribution to quantum theory


  • Describe the difference between conductors, insulators and semiconductors in terms of band structures and relative electrical resistance
  • Identify absences of electrons in a nearly full band as holes, and recognise that both electrons and holes help to carry current
  • Compare qualitatively the relative number of free electrons that can drift from atom to atom in conductors, semiconductors and insulators

Superconductors and the Meissner effect:

  • Discuss the BCS theory
  • Gather and process information to describe how superconductors and the effects of magnetic fields have been applied to develop a maglev train
  • Process information to identify some of the metals, metal alloys and compounds that have been identified as exhibiting the property of superconductivity and their critical temperatures
  • Perform an investigation to demonstrate magnetic levitation
  • Analyse information to explain why a magnet is able to hover above a superconducting material that has reached the temperature at which it is superconducting
  • Discuss the advantages of using superconductors and identify limitations to their use
  • Describe the occurrence in superconductors below their critical temperature of a population of electron pairs unaffected by electrical resistance

Dotpoints addressed from the Physics Stage 6 Syllabus Core – From Ideas to Implementation:
11.3b, 13.1f, 12.1a, 12.2a, 12.3e 14.1f, 14.1h

Motors and Generators >

Motor Effect:

  • Identify that the motor effect is due to the force acting on a current carrying conductor in a magnetic field
  • Identify data sources, gather and process information to qualitatively describe the application of the motor effect in: the galvanometer and the loudspeaker
  • Describe the main features of a DC electric motor and the role of each feature

Electromagnetic Induction and Lenz's Law:

  • Account for Lenz’s Law in terms of conservation of energy and relate it to the production of back emf in motors
  • Explain that, in electric motors, back emf opposes the supply emf
  • Explain the production of eddy currents in terms of Lenz’s Law
  • Gather secondary information to identify how eddy currents have been utilised in electromagnetic braking

AC Induction Motors:

  • Describe the main features of an AC electric motor


  • Describe the differences between AC and DC generators


  • Describe the purpose of transformers in electrical circuits
  • Perform an investigation to model the structure of a transformer to demonstrate how secondary voltage is produced
  • Solve problems and analyse information about transformers using: Vp/Vs = np/ns

Dotpoints addressed from the Physics Stage 6 Syllabus Core – Motors and Generators:
11.2d, 11.3b 13.1b, 13.1d, 13.1f, 14.1d, 14.1f

Qanta to Quarks >

The standard model of Physics

Atomic emission spectra (including Hydrogen):

  • Solve problems and analyse information using: 1/λ = R(1/nf2 - 1/ni2)
  • Perform a first-hand investigation to observe the visible components of the hydrogen spectrum

Wilson Cloud Chamber

  • Perform a first-hand investigation or gather secondary information to observe radiation emitted from a nucleus using a Wilson cloud chamber or similar detection device

Penetration of radioactive emission

Tracking fundamental particles:

  • Identify ways by which physicists continue to develop their understanding of matter, using accelerators as a probe to investigate the structure of matter

Mass defect in radioactive decay:

  • Explain the concept of a mass defect using Einstein’s equivalence between mass and energy
  • Solve problems and analyse information to calculate the mass defect and energy released in natural transmutation and fission reactions

Dotpoints addressed from the Physics Stage 6 Syllabus Option – Quanta to Quarks:
11.3b, 13.1e, 11.2a, 11.2b, 12.1a, 12.2a, 13.b, 13.1f, H15

Space >

Speed and velocity:

  • Account for the orbital decay of satellites in low Earth orbit
  • Compare qualitatively low Earth and geo-stationary orbits
  • Outline Newton’s concept of escape velocity

Projectile motion:

  • Describe the trajectory of an object undergoing projectile motion within the Earth's gravitational field in terms of horizontal and vertical components
  • Describe Galileo's analysis of projectile motion Δy = ut + at2

c and relativity:

  • Discuss the role of the Michelson-Morley experiments in making determinations about competing theories
  • Discuss the principle of relativity
  • Describe the significance of Einstein’s assumption of the constancy of the speed of light
  • Identify that if c is constant then space and time become relative
  • Discuss the concept that length standards gather and process information to interpret the results of the Michelson-Morley experiment
  • Explain qualitatively and quantitatively the consequence of special relativity in relation to: length contraction and time dilation
  • Discuss the implications of mass increase, time dilation and length contraction for space travel

Energy and rocket science:

  • Analyse the changing acceleration of a rocket during launch in terms of the: forces experienced by astronauts
  • Identify why the term 'g forces' is used to explain the forces acting on an astronaut during launch
  • Analyse the changing acceleration of a rocket during launch in terms of the: Law of conservation of momentum and the forces experienced by astronauts

Dotpoints addressed from the Physics Stage 6 Syllabus Option – Space:
12.2a, 13.1f, 14.1f, 14.1h

Medical Physics >

  • Describe how radioactive isotopes may be metabolised by the body to bind or accumulate in the target organ
  • Gather secondary information to observe at least two ultrasound images of body organs
  • Identify that the greater the difference in acoustic impedance between two materials, the greater is the reflected proportion of the incident pulse
  • Explain how a computed axial tomography (CAT) scan is produced
  • Describe circumstances where a CAT scan would be a superior diagnostic tool compared to either X-rays or ultrasound
  • Explain that large differences would occur in the relaxation time between tissue containing hydrogen bound water molecules and tissues containing other molecules
  • Gather and process secondary information to identify the function of the electromagnet, radio frequency oscillator, radio receiver and computer in the MRI equipment
  • Outline properties of radioactive isotopes and their half-lives that are used to obtain scans of organs

Dotpoints addressed from the Physics Stage 6 Syllabus Option – Medical Physics:
12.1b, 12.2b, 11.3b, 13.1f, 14.1f

Preliminary Physics >

Present information graphically of:

  • displacement vs time
  • velocity vs time for objects with uniform and non uniform linear velocity

Outline how the modulation of amplitude or frequency of visible light, microwaves and/or radio waves can be used to transmit information

Identify the conditions necessary for total internal reflection with reference to the critical angle

Identify data sources, gather, process and present information from secondary sources to identify areas of current research and use the available evidence to discuss some of the underlying physical principles used in one application of physics related to waves, such as:

  • Global Positioning System
  • CD technology
  • The internet (digital process)
  • DVD technology

Describe sunspots as representing regions of strong magnetic activity and lower temperature

Gather secondary information to relate brightness of an object to its luminosity and distance

Solve problems to apply the inverse square law of intensity of light to relate the brightness of a star to its luminosity and distance from the observer

Perform an investigation and gather first hand information to observe the occurrence of different striation patterns for different pressures in discharge tubes

Perform an investigation to demonstrate and identify properties of cathode rays using discharge tubes:

  • Containing a Maltese cross
  • Containing electric plates with a fluorescent display screen
  • Containing a glass wheel
  • Analyse the information gathered to determine the sign of the charge on cathode rays

Explain why the apparent inconsistent behaviour of cathode rays caused debate as to whether they were charged particles or electromagnetic waves

Dotpoints addressed from the Physics Stage 6 Syllabus– Preliminary Physics (Year 11):
11.2a, 11.3b, 13.1f, 12.1a, 12.2, 12.3c, 12.4b, 14.1a, 14.1f

Frequently asked questions

Workshop details    
Dates and times available Workshops are available throughout the year. Please visit our booking portal to view available dates and make a booking.
Duration Workshops run for 2.5 hours duration. Lectures run for 45 minutes.
Class size Physics requires a minimum class size of 8 students. If your class size is smaller than this, please contact and we can schedule you with an existing booking.
Program fees $29.70/student (inc. GST) per workshop. $10/student (inc. GST) per lecture.
Bookings To make a booking, simply visit our booking portal.
Confirmation Once your booking has been finalised, an email confirming dates/venues will be issued to you.
Terms and conditions Please ensure you have read, understand and agree to the Terms and Conditions of your booking.

Can I combine different modules in one session?
Yes. You can choose any five experiments from any of the core modules or options workshops we have in one two and half hour session.

Do I need to provide worksheets?
No, all workshop materials will be provided. Please have your students bring a pen and a calculator.

Do my students need to wear school uniform?
No. Students must wear closed in shoes and long hair be tied back.

Can I park on Campus?
No bus parking is available on campus. See the Driving and Parking section of the University website for more information.

Can we get public transport to Kickstart?
Most school groups come on the train - it's a 30 minute walk from Redfern Station. Also many buses pass the University along Parramatta Rd or City Rd. From the Parramatta Rd bus stop it is a 5 minute walk. See the Public Transport section of the University website for more information.