High School 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 to 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.

 

School Visits & Workshops

Bring the Faculty of Arts & Science to your classroom! Register your class for engaging and interactive in-person and 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

Check back in 2023 for winter term registration.

Astronomy Lecture & Observatory and Telescope Tour 

Duration: Approximately one hour 

Format: In person

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

Description: During this visit, you will attend a lecture by an astronomer from the department on one of the below topics. You will also 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. Weather permitting, we will be able to do some solar observing through our telescopes. 

Virtual Observatory and Telescope Tour 

Duration: 15 minutes or less, plus Q&A

Format: Online

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.

Talks to Add to the Above Tours

Duration: 30 minutes, plus Q&A

Choose one:

  1. Astronomy in the Movies: Fiction vs. Reality: Astronomy undergraduate student and researcher Daniella Morrone will compare how the field of astronomy and astronomers themselves are portrayed in the movies to the reality of working in the field. She will draw upon her experience during the Summer Undergraduate Research Program in the Astronomy Department at the University of Toronto, and highlight some of the work of prominent female astronomers and space scientists.
  2. Gravity: From Falling Apples to Ripples in Spacetime: In this talk, we will explore the history of the study of gravity, the force that causes everything to fall towards the Earth and also causes celestial objects to move through space. Starting with the ideas of the ancient Greek philosophers and the discoveries of renaissance physicists such as Isaac Newton, we will finally explore the most recent ideas about gravity such as Einstein's Theory of General Relativity and the latest experimental results proving this theory.
  3. Scales of the Universe:Have you ever wondered how big the universe is? In this comprehensive talk about scales, we will explore distances within the universe, starting with the height of a person, all the way to the span of galaxies and the size of the visible universe.
  4. All You Ever Wanted to Know About Black Holes: Black holes are mysterious objects that have piqued the imagination of scientists and science fiction writers alike. In this talk, we will define black holes, explain how they may have formed, and give real-life examples of black holes that have been characterized by scientists.
  5. The Odyssey of the Voyagers: The Voyager Spacecraft embarked on an incredible adventure in 1977, when they were launched from the Earth with the mission to explore the planets of the outer solar system. We will follow their journey through the solar system and learn where they currently reside as well as what they have recently discovered. 

Application of the Physics of Light: Reflected Light Microscope

Duration: One hour

Format: In-person workshop

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.  

Virtual Museum Tour: History of Life on Earth

Duration: One hour

Format: Online workshop 

Facilitated by: Earth Sciences PhD students

Description: Travel through geologic time to learn about fossils during a virtual tour of the Smithsonian’s Hall of Fossils. The Earth is over four 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.

Virtual Earth Science Field Trips 

Duration: One hour 

Format: Online workshop

Facilitated by: Earth Sciences PhD 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.

Starburst Rock Cycle  

Duration: One hour

Format: In-person or online workshop

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

Mass Extinctions and Modern Climate Change in the Anthropocene  

Duration: One hour

Format: In-person or online lesson

Facilitated by: Earth Sciences PhD students

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.

Symmetry and Tilings 

Duration: 45 minutes, plus questions

Format: In-person or online workshop

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.

Seven Bridges of Königsberg 

Duration: One hour

Format: Online workshop

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

 

Up, Up and Away! Doing Scientific Experiments from a Really Big Balloon

Duration: One hour, can be shorter or longer if requested

Format: In-person or online talk

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!

A Hands-on Experiment on Spectroscopy: Building Your Own Spectroscopes 

Duration: One hour, can be shorter or longer if requested 

Format: In-person or online workshop

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. You will get to build your own spectroscope to study different light sources. You will also 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.
  • Ruler (optional) 

Experimentally Probing the Dark Universe

 

Duration: Three workshops, one hour total 

Format: Online 

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 per cent 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 2km, SNOLAB is the deepest clean room facility in the world.

Requirements: A computer and browser with internet access to view the SNOLAB virtual tour.

Workshop III: Virtual Tour of SNOLAB

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: A computer and browser with internet access to view the 360° tour and panorama viewer


Superconductivity

 

Quest for Room Temperature Superconductivity  

Duration: 30 minutes, plus questions

Format: In-person or online lecture

Facilitated by: Professor John Wei

Superconductors are materials that, upon being cooled, carry electricity without dissipating energy. Useful for green energy, they are also a macroscopic embodiment of the quantum nature of electrons and atoms. This talk will give a brief history of superconductors, from early discoveries in simple materials to recent searches in complex materials. The quest is to find or synthesize novel superconductors that work at room temperature, without the need for cryogenic cooling. 


Theoretical Physics

 

Symmetries in Physics: Uncovering the Rules of the Universe from Basic Principles

Duration: 40 minutes, plus questions 

Format: In-person or online workshop

Facilitated by: Andrew Cox (PhD Candidate)

Description: Symmetry is one of the most useful tools a theoretical physicist has for understanding the universe. In this workshop, students will explore what symmetries can tell us about physics through basic conservation laws. The workshop will start with a general discussion on symmetries, introducing symmetry operations and how they relate to physics. Students will then learn about how symmetries are related to familiar conservation laws via Noether's theorem, focusing on a few key examples to illustrate the main points. This workshop will give students an introduction to modern theoretical physics techniques while assuming only knowledge of Newtonian mechanics at an introductory level.


Light-Matter Interactions

 

Eureka! Lightbulb Over the Head! But What Lightbulb? 

Duration: 45 minutes

Format: In person workshop 

Description: Lightbulbs come in several different types: some are better for the environment, some are hotter and many have light that looks different than sunlight. Here you’ll explore the differences between the incandescent, fluorescent and LED lightbulbs you see around you every day. Along the way, you’ll discover why blue fire is the hottest, why the lights in your school aren’t lightbulb shaped and why it’s easier than ever to cover a house in Christmas lights.

Materials: 

  • LED lightbulb
  • Fluorescent lightbulb
  • Incandescent lightbulb
  • Spectroscope
  • Thermometer
  • Voltmeter
  • Ammeter
Hello Darkness My Old Friend

Duration: 30 minutes, plus 15-minute Q&A

Format: In-person or online talk

Facilitated by: Jocselyn van der Veen

Description: Seeing darkness is a strange thing indeed — it is our brains interpreting light that is not there! But what does darkness mean at the scales we can’t see with our eyes? Learn how detecting things that aren’t there lets us see everything from atomic behaviour, to dark matter, to black holes. We will take you through the discovery and current methods for detecting all the kinds of things that are called dark and what that means when you aren’t the one seeing it.

The Magic of Microwaves

Duration: 45 minutes, plus optional 15 minutes for grape plasma

Format: In-person or online workshop 

Facilitated by: Jocselyn van der Veen

Description: Have you ever wondered how your microwave heats up food? Why some of your bowls get hot and others don’t? Why some parts of the food are hotter than others? In this workshop you’ll learn how the interactions between light and molecules make the microwave possible. You’ll also get to try measuring the speed of light in your own microwave! And see how you can make lightning in your microwave with nothing but grapes!

Materials: 

  • Microwave
  • Dish
  • Margarine or mini marshmallows
  • Ruler
  • Grapes
Laser Diffraction

Duration: 90 minutes

Format: In-person workshop

Facilitated by: Professor Brian Wilson

Description: Use laser diffraction to measure the diameter of a human hair or the pixels on a phone screen.

Humanities & Social Sciences

Check back in 2023 for updated session and registration information.

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: Tearing Down Statues: What To Do With American Monuments?

Instructor: Alexandra Rahr, Bissell-Heyd Lecturer, Centre for the Study of the United States, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy  

Description: In cities across America, statues of past heroes are being kicked off their pedestals. Some of these changes are so controversial that even in the dead of night, removal crews wear masks to conceal their identities. In this lecture, we’ll talk about what to do with all those statues of all those problematic dead guys – and a few others, too.  We’ll consider how cultural memory works, what gets remembered and who decides what's forgotten. And we’ll look at creative new monuments that offer provocative ways to memorialize our collective pasts.

Title: Writing in the Shadow of the Violence of Columbus

Instructor: John Duncan, Director, Ethics, Society & Law Program 

Suggested Reading: A short selection from The History of the Indies by Bartolome de las Casas.

Description: This book was written in the time of Columbus during the establishment of the first European colony in the Americas, on the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti / Dominican Republic). Las Casas himself evolves over his time in what were then called "the Indies" and becomes a strong critic of the violence used by the Europeans in the colonial enterprise. He gives accounts of brutal wars against the Indigenous Taino people of the Caribbean requiring us to understand that colonization was most often a work of violence, the legacy of which conditions people to this day. Like most of us, Las Casas himself was not perfect, but he ended up dedicating his life to writing in defense of the "Indians" and working to change the European laws and policies that enabled colonization.

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: Historical Roots of 'Completing the Square': A lesson from the History of Science 

Instructor: Craig Fraser, Professor, Institute for the History & Philosophy of Science & Technology and Hannah Rajput, Undergraduate Student, Institute for the History & Philosophy of Science & Technology

Description: We are offering a lesson aimed at connecting the modern algebraic method of ‘completing the square’ to solve quadratics with the geometric historical roots of the method. The goal is to better elucidate what ‘completing the square’ really means, to help students gain an appreciation for the rich history of math, and, more generally, to introduce them to the field of History & Philosophy of science. The lesson will be taught by Professor Craig Fraser, who specializes in the history of mathematics, and undergraduate student Hannah Rajput. This lesson will be run as a tutorial. The concepts and some historical background will be taught, while there will also be a significant focus on student interaction and time for individual problem solving. This lesson is most suitable for math, science, or history classes. History of science is a field with a broad scope as it integrates the sciences and humanities. Although this lesson does require some mathematical knowledge, namely of quadratic equations, the lesson will begin with a recap of the concepts and all students in grades 11 or 12 should have the necessary background that would allow this lesson to be taught in any class.

Life Sciences

Check back in 2023 for updated session and registration information.

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.