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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Available starting in May 2021

Title: Virtual Observatory and Telescope Tour (15 min. 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: 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 in 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.  

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.

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! 

Talk II: A Visit to the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Lab (PEARL) (1 hour, length can be adjusted) 

Facilitated by: Professor Kaley Walker and her research group

Description:

  • Get a glimpse into what it’s like to work at a remote polar research laboratory in Eureka, Nunavut.  The Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL) is situated on Ellesmere Island at 80°N, 1,100 km from the North Pole and over 4,000 km north of Toronto. 
  • Learn about how we make observations of the atmosphere during the brief Arctic spring where the outside temperatures can be as low as -50°C.  That’s before the wind chill! 
  • Discover the unique environment of the high Arctic including local weather and wildlife.

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

Workshop II: A Hands-On Experiment on Aerosols: Making a Cloud in a Jar (1 hour, length can be adjusted)

Facilitated by: Professor Kaley Walker and her research group

Description:

  • In this hands-on workshop, aerosols, their role in global warming and the basic concepts of cloud formation will be introduced.
  • Learn how aerosols are detected and how we measure them in the Canadian Arctic.
  • Create your own clouds in a jar based on the knowledge you gained in the first part of the workshop.

Requirements:  

  • 1-2L wide-mouth jars (wide enough to easily fit your hand in the opening)
  • Rubber gloves (non-latex)
  • Matches
  • Water

 

Computational Physics

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

Facilitated by: Garett Brown (PhD candidate)

Description: Starting from Newton’s 2nd Law, we will numerically solve the motion of the simple harmonic oscillator (mass on a spring) as well as the simple pendulum. 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: Starting from Newton’s 2nd Law, we will numerically solve the motion of the simple pendulum. We then go through a similar process for the two body problem before reviewing vectors and going through the process one more time for the three body problem. We finish with a brief discussion of chaos (as seen with a double pendulum). Includes a brief review of vector addition. 

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.

 

Condensed Matter Physics

Talk: The Challenge of Superconductivity (1 hour including Q&A) 

Facilitated by: Nazim Boudjada (PhD candidate)

Description: In this presentation, we will discuss the fascinating and intriguing phenomenon of superconductivity. Superconductors were discovered more than a century ago and they continue to baffle scientists to this day. Why? Because superconductors can do much more than what their name suggests (to conduct electricity with no resistance, or energy loss) and have many technological applications: better energy efficiency, magnetically levitated trains, particle accelerators, medical imaging, and even quantum computing. But before we get there, we need to understand what makes a material superconducting and what destroys superconductivity. We will go through the historical milestones in the field and explain the modern challenges that prevent us from having superconductors all around us. We will also discuss the different types of superconductors that exist and how they are related to each other.

 

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 (available for Q&A)

Facilitated by: Professor Miriam Diamond

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 and Jesse Velay-Vitow (PhD candidate)

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 min.)

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 152 – Foundations of Physics II

Instructors: Stephen Julian  

Description: The second physics course in many of the Specialist and Major Programs in Physical Sciences. The concept of fields will be introduced and discussed in the context of gravity and electricity. Topics include rotational motion, oscillations, waves, electricity and magnetism.

Date and Time: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 1:10-2:00 pm (choose a date that you would like to sit in on the lecture.)

 

Ask Me About Physics at U of T

Q&A with a U of T Physics Undergraduate student.

 

Humanities & Social Sciences

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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