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, 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

Check back in Fall 2022 for registration information

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.

Astronomy and Astrophysics Talks 

The following talks can be added to the Virtual Observatory and Telescope Tour above or booked separately. 

Talk I: Astronomy in the Movies: Fiction vs. Reality
Speaker: Daniella Morrone
Description: 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.

Talk II: Investigating the Structure of a Stellar Corpse: What it's Like to be an Undergraduate Researcher at U of T
Speaker: Nicole Gromek
Description: Nicole Gromek, an undergraduate student and researcher in the Astronomy Department, will discuss her summer research on the cosmic loops of clouds left over from the explosive death of massive stars. She will also talk about her experience doing research in the department over the summer and what she learned working with real astronomical data.

Talk III: Gravity: From Falling Apples to Ripples in Spacetime
Speaker: Ilana MacDonald
Description: 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. 

Talk IV: Scales of the Universe
Speaker: Ilana MacDonald  
Description: 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.

Talk V: All You Ever Wanted to Know About Black Holes
Speaker: Ilana MacDonald
Description: 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.

Talk VI: The Odyssey of the Voyagers
Speaker: Ilana MacDonald
Description: 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. 

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 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.

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

Workshop: Weighing the Dark Universe With a Balloon-borne Telescope (1 hour) 

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.

Oceans in Motion

Talk: Oceans in Motion (30 minutes 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 132 – Introduction to Physics II

Instructor: Anna Harlick

Description: The second university physics course primarily for students not intending to pursue a Specialist or Major program in Physical or Mathematical Sciences. Topics include: electricity, magnetism, light, optics, special relativity.

Dates and Times: From January 3-April 8 – Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 11:10 am to 12 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

Check back in Fall 2022 for 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 Fall 2022 for 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.