Educator Resources

A woman using her tablet and computer planning a virtual visit

Introduce your students early to the University of Toronto!

From online information sessions, school visits, workshops and more, there are many ways for your grade 11 and 12 students to experience learning in the Faculty of Arts & Science. Check out the opportunities below to find out how you can connect with us.

 

Virtual School Visits & Workshops

Bring the Faculty of Arts & Science to your classroom! Register your class for engaging and interactive virtual workshops hosted by professors, students and PhD students from the Faculty of Arts & Science at U of T. See below for the variety of hands-on workshops and lectures available. 

Mathematical & Physical Sciences

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Title: Virtual Observatory and Telescope Tour (~15 minutes or less plus Q&A)

Facilitated by: Ilana MacDonald (Instructional Support and Observatory/Planetarium Administrator) or Mike Williams (TA Admin and Observatory Demonstrator)

Description: In this virtual tour, you will visit the observatories and observation balcony on the 15th and 16th floors of the McLennan Physical Labs (MP), the tallest building on the University of Toronto downtown campus. There are two observatory domes on the roof of MP, one containing an 8-inch refracting telescope, and the other containing a 16-inch reflecting telescope. We also have a host of smaller telescopes that are used on the observing balcony on the 15th floor. We will show you the telescopes themselves as well as some of the views that you can see through them.

Workshop I: Application of the Physics of Light: Reflected Light Microscope (1 hour)

Facilitated by: Dr. Dan Gregory, Assistant Professor in Earth Sciences

Description: In this workshop, we will give a short lecture on the physics of light and how it interacts with different materials. We'll then go through examples of how this can be applied using reflected light microscopy and look at a series of videos of different minerals under the microscope – a view that is sure to surprise! We'll finish with the students getting a chance to do some mineral ID and see some spectacular minerals.  

Workshop II: Virtual Museum Tour: History of Life on Earth (1 hour)

Facilitated by: Katie Maloney, PhD Candidate 

Description: Travel through geologic time to learn about fossils during a virtual tour of the Smithsonian’s Hall of Fossils. The Earth is over 4 billion years old but it took a long time for our planet to become a nice place to live. Learn about the creatures that first appeared in the ocean and later moved to land, setting the stage for dinosaurs and, eventually, humans. You will follow along with the guided tour by placing important events on a one-year calendar. For example, January 1 is the creation of the Earth, while December 31 marks the first appearance of humans. 

Workshop III: Virtual Earth Science Field Trips (1 hour)

Facilitated by: Graduate students

Description: This workshop will focus on virtual field trips guided by a graduate student using an online platform created by Geoscience Info. We will travel to a time when southern Ontario was a tropical ocean filled with ancient creatures. Following the map, we will stop at local outcrops (where rocks are exposed at the surface) to explore the local rocks and fossils. We will discuss the different sedimentary rocks types, what they can tell us about the ancient environment and how they influence the modern environment (for example, agriculture). Tour options include the Niagara Escarpment and/or Manitoulin Island. 

Workshop IV: Starburst Rock Cycle (1 hour)

Facilitated by: Dr. Dan Gregory, Assistant Professor in Earth Sciences

Description: In this experiment we use Starburst candy to simulate rock forming processes. The process goes from the weathering of older rocks to form news ones, the alteration of these rocks at different pressures and temperatures and starting the process again by melting them.

Requirements: 

  • Starburst candies (assorted colours)
  • Waxed paper
  • Scissors

Lesson I: Mass Extinctions and Modern Climate Change in the Anthropocene (1 hour)

Facilitated by: Katie Maloney, PhD Candidate 

Description: We are currently in a new period of geologic time known as the Anthropocene. This time is used to describe when human activities on Earth started to have significant impacts on the planet’s climate and ecosystems. To learn about modern climate change, we will start by investigating the fossil and geochemical record during mass extinctions. Included in this lesson will be how geologists and paleontologists alike are able to extract this information from rocks and sedimentary structures from across the globe.

 

Sit In On a First-Year University Lecture

ESS 234 - Online Field Course (1 hour pre-recorded lecture plus live Q&A)

Facilitated by: Dr. Dan Gregory, Assistant Professor in Earth Sciences

Description: This is a first-year lecture given in an introductory course for general students and will give students an idea of what first-year university lectures are like. In this lecture, we cover the importance of mining in today’s society, an introduction into how mineral deposits form and some of the ways we look for them.

Requirements: A computer with internet access. Watch the Introduction to Mineral Deposits video for more information.

Workshop I: Symmetry and Tilings (45 minutes, plus questions)

Facilitated by: Dr. Parker Glynn-Adey, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream

Description: Cultures all over the world have designed beautiful tilings. What makes a repeating pattern so magical and appealing to the eye? Mathematics! In this interactive workshop, we'll introduce students to modern algebra and group theory through the study of tilings and repeated patterns.

Requirements: A computer and browser with internet access for each participant. No programming experience required. Tablets and phones can work but the experience is best with a desktop browser.


Workshop II: Seven Bridges of Königsberg (1 hour)

Facilitated by: Asia Majeed, MSc Candidate

Description: All roads and motorways form a large network. How do you find the shortest route between two given points? Mathematics! In this interactive workshop, we’ll introduce students to graph theory by finding diversions when a particular connection is busy.

Requirements: A computer and browser with internet access for each participant. No programming experience required. Tablets and phones can work but the experience is best with a desktop browser.

Atmospheric Physics

Talk I: Up, Up and Away! Doing Scientific Experiments from a Really Big Balloon (1 hour, length can be adjusted) 

Facilitated by: Professor Kaley Walker and her research group

Description: Come along for the ride as we discuss how high-altitude balloons can be used to study Earth’s atmosphere from “near-space”. Learn how instruments are designed and tested to handle the harsh conditions of the lower stratosphere, about three times higher in altitude than passenger planes fly. Here temperatures go down to -60°C and pressure is only 5 mbar, 1/200th of the pressure where we live on the surface of Earth. We will take you through how we prepare for a balloon flight with a helium-filled balloon capable of carrying 500-1000 kg of experimental equipment up to altitudes of 30-40 km. Hint - the balloon is 25 stories tall! 

Workshop I: A Hands-on Experiment on Spectroscopy: Building Your Own Spectroscopes (1 hour, length can be adjusted)

Facilitated by: Professor Kaley Walker and her research group

Description: 

  • In this hands-on workshop, the electromagnetic spectrum and the basic concepts of spectroscopy will be introduced. 
  • Build your own spectroscope to study different light sources.  
  • Learn how spectroscopy can be used to study Earth’s atmosphere and how this is applied in our work studying the atmosphere over the Canadian Arctic. 

Requirements:  

  • Cardstock (to print provided spectroscope template) 
  • DVDs 
  • Scissors 
  • Utility knife or craft knife (with adult supervision) 
  • Different light bulbs: incandescent, compact fluorescent, LED, Halogen, etc.
  • Optional: ruler

 

Computational Physics

Workshop I: The Motion of Pendulums Using Computers (1 hour)

Facilitated by: Garett Brown (PhD candidate)

Description: We will begin by discussing how to solve physics problems numerically. We will solve the motion of the simple pendulum numerically. We will then move on to experimenting with the double pendulum before closing on a discussion of chaos (as seen with the double pendulum).

Requirements: A computer and browser with internet access for each participant. Little to no programming experience required (Python and JavaScript). Tablets/iPads can work but the experience is best with a desktop browser.

Workshop II: Gravity and the Three Body Problem (1.5-2 hours)

Facilitated by: Garett Brown (PhD candidate)

Description: We will begin by discussing how to solve physics problems numerically, along with a brief review of vectors (vector addition, vector magnitude and unit vectors). We then solve the motion of the two-body problem numerically before stepping up to the three body problem. We finish with a brief discussion of chaos.

Requirements: A computer and browser with internet access for each participant. Some programming experience would be helpful, but not required (Python). Tablets/iPads can work but the experience is best with a desktop browser.

 

Experimentally Probing the Dark Universe

Three Workshops (1 hour total)

Workshop I: Weighing the Dark Universe With a Balloon-borne Telescope

Facilitated by: Mohamed Shaaban (PhD Candidate)

Description: Not only is the Universe expanding, but it’s also accelerating! This revelation implies either our understanding of gravity is flawed or that a mysterious negative pressure known as Dark Energy is driving the expansion. It turns out that the contents of the universe can be divided into three groups: dark energy, dark matter and the matter that is everything we can see and interact with, which only accounts for five percent of the universe! 

One way to understand the relationship between these three groups is to find out how heavy they are. Unfortunately, there are no universe-sized scales so instead we have to build an experiment to weigh the universe for us. 

Requirements: Access to camera phone, two way virtual live interaction.

Workshop II: Virtual Tour of SNOLAB

Facilitated by: Professor Miriam Diamond (available for Q&A)

Description: SNOLAB is a world-class science facility located deep underground in an operational nickel mine, near Sudbury, Ontario in Canada. The combination of great depth and cleanliness that SNOLAB affords allows extremely rare interactions and weak processes to be studied. The science program at SNOLAB is currently focused on sub-atomic physics, largely neutrino and dark matter. At 2 km, SNOLAB is the deepest clean-room facility in the world. 

Requirements: Computer with internet access to watch the Virtual Field Trip to SNOLAB video. 

Workshop III: Virtual Tour of CERN

Facilitated by: Professor Miriam Diamond (available for Q&A)

Description: Discover CERN in Virtual Reality with two short clips. From the LHC to the CMS detector and the challenge of analyzing petabytes of data with more than half a million processor cores, go to places few persons are allowed.

Requirements: Computer with internet access to do a virtual tour of CERN

 

Oceans in Motion

Talk: Oceans in Motion (1 hour plus Q&A) 

Speakers: Professor Nicolas Grisouard

Description: The oceans have inspired many throughout history, and the tools developed to understand them have led to numerous advances in time keeping, navigation and mathematics. This presentation first provides an overview of the science of tides from ancient times all the way up to the modern satellite era. We then explain how physicists shape the contemporary study of the oceans and of the climate system.

Optional short workshop: The Amplitude of Sloshing Water (30 minutes)

Description: Explaining the high tides in the Bay of Fundy from watching water slosh back and forth in a container.

Required Equipment: Rectangular plastic tubs, water, paper towels, empty 2L pop bottles with caps (optional), a stick to balance the containers on. 

 

Sit In On a First-Year University Lecture

PHY 131 – Introduction to Physics I

Instructor: Jason Harlow

Description: A first-year university physics course primarily for students not intending to pursue a Specialist or Major program in Physical or Mathematical Sciences. Topics may include: classical kinematics and dynamics, momentum, energy, force, friction, work, power, angular momentum, oscillations, waves, sound.

Dates and Times: From September 9-December 8 – Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays from 11:10 am-12:00 pm (choose a date that you would like to sit in)

Workshop: Simulation of Complex Systems (~1.25 hours, length can be adjusted)

Facilitated by: Dr. Brad Bass, Status Professor, and students

Description: Complexity and Organized Behavior within Environmental Bounds (COBWEB) is an open-source agent-based simulation. The general nature of COBWEB allows for the creation of many different types of simulations across all disciplines. The simulation is visual and is displayed on a 2D grid. As COBWEB is agent based, the simulations are built from the bottom up from the components of a system. Agents are independent "computers" that are programmed to perform individual actions of consumption, movement and communication with the constraints of their ability to collect and use energy. The components of any system are assigned to these different agents, and the interaction between the agents simulates the interaction of the components within your system. In this workshop, participants will learn the basics of causal mapping, agent construction and modification and model development in order to build their own simulation models. After the workshop, participants should be able to develop a causal map for their systems of interest and modify agents to perform the basic functions required for a simulation model. 

Requirements: Each participant will require access to a computer with an up-to-date version of the Java Runtime Environment (a free download from Oracle for Windows; Apple provides a Mac-only version), MS Excel and the ability to put a Java file onto their desktop.

Humanities & Social Sciences

Registration will become available in late October.

Title: Learning Irish Language and Culture

Instructor: Pa Sheehan, ICUF Instructor, Celtic Studies

Description: A chara! Learn more about the modern Irish Language with a brief introductory Irish lesson followed by a Q&A about Irish culture. 

Title: Fries, Croissants and Schnitzel: Who owns the Past (and the Food) in Europe?

Instructor: Robert C. Austin, European Studies Program, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy

Description: Then French President Charles de Gaulle once jokingly said, "How can you govern a country which has 246 varieties of cheese?" But food is very much part of national identity and Europe protects the origins of certain products. Parmesan cheese can only come from parts of Italy. There is a myth that the Viennese invented the croissant in the 1600s. Who invented the Schnitzel consumed throughout Central Europe? Or what about French Fries which, during a spat between France and the United States, were briefly called Freedom Fries in some American restaurants. This lecture explores the link between food and national ideas and the way Europe protects its unique products. We start in Greece, the only place you can buy Feta cheese, and move West!

Title: French Studies at U of T

Instructor: Paul Bessler, Assistant Professor, Department of French

Description: The purpose of this workshop is to provide students with an overview of the three types of courses offered in the Department of French, namely language, literature and linguistics. We will also look at the various minor, major and specialist programs offered by the department, as well as some of the career opportunities available to graduates. Please note that this workshop can be conducted in English or in French.

Title: The Science of Speech

Instructor: Paul Bessler, Assistant Professor, Department of French

Description:  The purpose of this workshop is to investigate some applications of research in the field of phonetics, which is the area of linguistics that deals with the sounds that make up speech. We will begin by examining the relationship between the production of sounds by the vocal apparatus and the physical properties of the resulting sound waves. We will then look at some of the tools used by phoneticians to analyse these sounds, and we will conclude by considering some practical applications of these tools, such as teaching pronunciation to second-language learners and voice recognition. Please note that this workshop can be conducted in English or in French.

Title: Medieval Wonders, Medieval Monsters

Instructor: Dr. Alexandra Bolintineanu, Assistant Professor, Centre for Medieval Studies

Description: Medieval world maps scatter marvels and monsters across the round world.  In the famous Hereford map, Amazons, griffins, and unicorns cluster in the world’s North; marvellous nations—people with a single giant foot or with faces on their chests—march along the southernmost edge. In the works of medieval English scholars, people of small stature dwell in jewelled subterranean lands beneath Wales and England; fairies haunt the woods; honourable shapeshifting knights traverse the sea mounted on dolphins; wily dracs, who assume human shape on land, haunt rivers waiting to drag people down to their underwater kingdom. 

In the Middle Ages, were these marvellous creatures fact or fiction? Were they malicious or beneficent towards humankind? What part do they play in humankind's understanding of the world? 

Learning Outcomes: By the end of this workshop, students will:

  • Read stories from medieval primary sources about marvellous peoples
  • Analyze how these stories present these marvellous peoples and evoke their not-quite-human nature 
  • Trace links between the fantastic and wondrous in medieval cultures, and in modern fantasy 

Life Sciences

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Title: Gut Microbiome and the Hygiene Hypothesis

Instructor: Graduate student(s) from the Department of Immunology

Description: Join our graduate student presenters for a one-hour interactive workshop on the gut microbiome and how it influences our health and immunity. This workshop covers the current understanding of microbiome development and modulation as well as the hygiene hypothesis and the association with asthma and allergy. The workshop can be tailored to include interactive poll/quiz sessions and will include a Q&A period with graduate students on science and student life.   

Title: The Immunology of Vaccines

Instructor: Graduate student(s) from the Department of Immunology

Description: In this one-hour interactive workshop, graduate students from the Department of Immunology will talk about the immunology of vaccines! We will go over some of the different kinds of vaccines that we have available to us and why we use vaccines in the first place. We will discuss how vaccines make use of our natural immune response to generate immune memory. We will also learn about the benefits of vaccines and how they have prevented outbreaks of some very serious infectious diseases. The workshop can be tailored to include interactive poll/quiz sessions and will include a Q&A period with graduate students on science and student life.   

Title: Disorders of the Immune System

Instructor: Graduate student(s) from the Department of Immunology

Description: In this one-hour workshop, we will talk about what happens when your immune system goes haywire! What happens to our bodies when our immune cells don’t work as intended? What does it mean to have an autoimmune disease or be immunocompromised? We will talk about different examples of each of these types of immune disorders and the discoveries that researchers are making to combat them. This workshop can be tailored to include interactive poll/quiz sessions and will include a Q&A period with graduate students on science and student life. 

Title: Drugs: Substance Use Disorder

Instructor: Dr. Michelle Arnot

Description: Dr. Michelle Arnot will provide a 45-minute live workshop on the neuropharmacology and toxicology behind how certain drugs that act in the brain can lead to substance use disorder. She will cover a few of the most common theories and use examples from prescription and street drugs, for example pain medication (opioids), sleeping pills and stimulants. The discussion will be followed by a Q&A with Dr. Arnot and students.

Title: Understanding and Developing New Drugs for Cancer

Instructor: Dr. Leonardo Salmena and his research group

Description: Follow the graduate students from Dr. Leonardo Salmena’s research laboratory on a research project that works to better understand and improve cancer drug therapy. A demonstration of research experiments and background on the experiments will be shared through a video and then followed with a scheduled Q&A with Dr. Salmena, Canada Research Chair in Signal Transduction and Gene Regulation in Cancer, and his research group.

Title: Mitochondria: The Powerhouse of the Cell and a Target in Understanding Neurological Diseases

Instructor: Dr. Ana Andreazza

Description: After watching the video “The Power of Mitochondria to Fuel Your Brain” (link available in September 2021) with Dr. Ana Andreazza, Canada Research Chair in Molecular Pharmacology of Mood Disorders and the Academic Director of the Mitochondrial Innovation Initiative, and her research team, students will have the opportunity to virtually join the team during a lab meeting and discuss this area of research and what it means for future treatment of neurological diseases.