3rd February 2020

Year 9 Science and Math students gain momentum in extension studies

When we arrived, we were met by our tour guide Troy, a physics professor at the University. We had a three-hour practical lesson on momentum and impulse, specifically through the testing of car crashing simulations in a first-year physics lab. We used the university equipment such as: high-reading motion detectors and computer programs that interpreted and graphed collected data.

Throughout the trials we used magnets to rebound the test cars on impact to create an elastic car crash. We then analysed the data given by the equipment using graphs. From the graphs and the formulas taught regarding momentum and impulse we worked out the specification of collision (elastic or inelastic) using the coefficient of restitution. This process was then repeated without the magnetic interference, simulating a real car crash scenario.

We then used a different computer program and accelerometer to graph the acceleration of the car, specifically the high burst of negative acceleration repelling the car backwards after the crash. This supported Newton’s Second Law of Motion that states the rate of change of momentum for a moving object is proportional to the force acting upon the object to produce the change. Thus, applying our findings from the test to the law and finding the trend that as the acceleration of the car increased, the change of momentum also increased.

The second part of the UNSW tour, included a taste of the world of quantum physics and mechanics.

The second part of the UNSW tour, included a taste of the world of quantum physics and mechanics. UNSW is the leading university for quantum research and quantum computer development. The concept of quantum powered computers is new to science and therefore we have many opportunities of growth and further knowledge in this area. The development of quantum computers reflects the stage at which humans had developed normal computers fifty years ago. This is a pathway that will provide future generations with an extensive increase in computer science development, allowing further practical uses such as: high-level encryption capabilities keeping information secure for countries, banks and the military.

The medical use for quantum technology is another new and broad idea. The university is working towards using quantum computers in the future to manufacture drugs for specific people with no side-effects which means no animal testing is needed. After an explanation of the basics and an example of uses in the field we were taken on a tour through the department. This tour focused on the machinery and methods used in the production and research into further capabilities of quantum mechanics.

UNSW, along with leading the field in this area, also have a variety of leading physicists, including 2018 Australian of the Year, Michelle Simmons. In addition to cutting-edge physicists, UNSW is the location of millions of dollars in funded money that has gone towards necessary technologies in order to research and develop quantum products. These funds have been given by major corporations and governments, domestically and internationally.

This opportunity was a great taste and first look at UNSW practices and furthered our understanding into the world of physics. The excursion has definitely inspired many of us to question our subject selection and career paths. As a collective, Year 9 Science and Maths extension participants humbly thank Troy and UNSW for hosting us, and Mr Byrne for transporting and diligently organising this great experience.

Our thanks must also be extended to the college for the organisation and commitment shown to all our extension programs throughout 2019. These opportunities allowed us to challenge and immerse ourselves further into our education.

Ethan Bambridge and Daniel Bramley
Year 9 Students (2019)