High School Workshops

A woman using her tablet and computer planning a virtual visit

Introduce your students early to U of T!

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.

 

Computer Science Workshops

Register for a Computer Science Workshop

Title: Teaching Computers to Do Stuff with Algorithms

Duration: 1 hour, plus 15-minute Q&A

Format: Virtual

Facilitated by: Professor Sushant Sachdeva

Description: How are computers able to solve complicated problems? Algorithms. All students have studied solution methods that are algorithms in disguise, e.g., long division, greatest common divisor. This workshop will introduce the formalization of simple algorithms and trying them out in python.

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.

Mathematical & Physical Sciences Workshops

Register for a Mathematical & Physical Sciences Workshop

Title: Math Wizards for Finance & Insurance

Duration: 1 hour, plus 15-minute Q&A

Format: Virtual

Facilitated by: Professor Vicki Zhang

Description: If you like math, statistics, economics, or other quantitative fields, consider becoming an actuary – a math wizard for the financial and insurance industry as well as public/governmental benefit schemes. Actuary is frequently voted one of the best careers in the world, and for good reasons. You will use math to solve real-world problems in many industries, all the while earning high salaries and enjoying a satisfying work-life balance. In this live virtual workshop, we will present the many fields actuaries routinely make an impact in, including healthcare, climate risks, investment, retirement management, etc. The presentation will be followed by a Q&A.

Title: Astronomy Lecture & Observatory and Telescope Tour 

Duration: 1 hour (plus optional 30-minute talk)

Format: In-person

Facilitated by: Ilana MacDonald , Mike Williams

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.


Title: Virtual Observatory and Telescope Tour 

Duration: 1 hour (plus optional 30-minute talk)

Format: Virtual

Facilitated by: Ilana MacDonald , Mike Williams

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

Format: In-person or virtual

Learn more about our speakers and offerings here.

Title: Sit in on a First-Year University Lecture: CHM135HS – Chemistry: Physical Principles

Duration: 50 minutes

Format: On campus

Instructor: Professor Kristine Quinlan

Description: A first-year university physical chemistry course. Topics may include: Structure of matter, gases, liquids and solids; phase equilibria and phase diagrams; colligative properties; chemical equilibria; electrolyte solutions and electrochemistry; reaction kinetics; introduction to thermodynamics.This workshop is recommended for grade 11 or 12 students interested in seeing what a university chemistry class is like.

Dates & Times:

  • Monday January 22, 9-10 AM
  • Wednesday January 24, 9-10 AM

Note: each of the classes listed above is limited to 5 participants per session.


Title: Sit in on a First-Year University Lecture: CHM136HS – Introductory Organic Chemistry I

Duration: 50 minutes

Format: On campus

Instructor: Professor Barb Morra

Description: A first-year university organic chemistry course. An introduction to principles of structure and their relation to reactivity of organic molecules: molecular structure, stereochemistry, functional groups, reactions, and mechanisms.This workshop is recommended for grade 11 or 12 students interested in seeing what a university chemistry class is like.

Dates & Times:

  • Monday January 22, 12-1 PM
  • Wednesday January 24, 12-1 PM
  • Friday January 26, 12-1 PM
  • Monday January 29, 12-1 PM
  • Wednesday January 31, 12-1 PM
  • Friday February 2, 12-1 PM

Note: each of the classes listed above is limited to 5 participants per session.

Title: Application of the Physics of Light: Reflected Light Microscope

Duration: 1 hour

Format: In-person

Facilitated by: Dr. Dan Gregory

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.


Title: Virtual Museum Tour: History of Life on Earth

Duration: 1 hour

Format: Virtual

Facilitated by: Karyn Gorra

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.


Title: Virtual Earth Science Field Trips 

Duration: 1 hour

Format: Virtual

Facilitated by: Karyn Gorra

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.


Title: Starburst Rock Cycle  

Duration: 1 hour

Format: In-person or virtual

Facilitated by: Dr. Dan Gregory

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

Title: Mass Extinctions and Modern Climate Change in the Anthropocene  

Duration: 1 hour

Format: In-person or virtual

Facilitated by: Karyn Gorra

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.

Title: Seven Bridges of Königsberg 

Duration: 1 hour

Format: Virtual

Facilitated by: Asia Majeed

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.

Title: Atmospheric Physics: Up, Up and Away! Doing Scientific Experiments from a Really Big Balloon

Duration: 1 hour

Format: In-person or virtual

Facilitated by: Professor Kaley Walker

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!


Title: Atmospheric Physics: A Hands-on Experiment on Spectroscopy: Building Your Own Spectroscopes

Duration: 1 hour

Format: In-person or virtual

Facilitated by: Professor Kaley Walker

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) 

Title: Experimentally Probing the Dark Universe

Duration: Three workshops, one hour total

Format: Virtual

Workshop I: Weighing the Dark Universe with a Balloon-Borne Telescope 

Facilitated by: Professor Miriam Diamond

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

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

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.


Title: Superconductivity: Quest for Room Temperature Superconductivity

Duration: 30 minutes, plus Q&A

Format: In-person or virtual

Facilitated by: Professor John Wei

Description: 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.


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

Duration: 40 minutes, plus Q&A

Format: In-person or virtual

Facilitated by: Andrew Cox

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.


Title: Light-Matter Interactions: Eureka! Lightbulb Over the Head! But What Lightbulb?

Duration: 45 minutes

Format: In person

Facilitated by: Joscelyn van der Veen

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

Title: Light-Matter Interactions: Hello Darkness My Old Friend

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

Format: In-person or virtual

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.


Title: Light-Matter Interactions: The Magic of Microwaves

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

Format: In-person or virtual

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

Title: Light-Matter Interactions: Laser Diffraction

Duration: 90 minutes

Format: In-person

Facilitated by: Professor Brian Wilson

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


Title: Sit in on a First-Year University Lecture: PHY 131 — Introduction to Physics I

Duration: 50 minutes

Format: On-campus

Instructor: Professor Ania Harlick

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 and sound.

Dates and Times:

  • TBC

Note: this workshop is only offered in the winter term (February 5 – March 28, 2024)


Title: Sit in on a First-Year University Lecture: PHY 151 – Foundations of Physics I

Duration: 50 minutes

Format: On-campus

Instructor: Professor Ania Harlick

Description: The first physics course in many of the specialist and major programs in Physical Sciences. It provides an introduction to the concepts, approaches and tools the physicist uses to describe the physical world while laying the foundation for classical and modern mechanics. Topics include: mathematics of physics, energy, momentum, conservation laws, kinematics, dynamics and gravity.

Dates and Times:

  • TBC

Note: this workshop is only offered in the winter term (February 5 – March 28, 2024)

Humanities & Social Sciences Workshops

Register for a Humanities & Social Sciences Workshop

Title: Sit in on a First-Year University Lecture: CLA160 — Introduction to Classical Studies

Duration: 90 minutes

Format: In-person

Facilitated by: Adriana Brook, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream

Description: An introduction to major themes in the development of Greek and Roman civilization, literature, and culture.  Join a typical first-year lecture that will introduce you to the kinds of questions we examine and the methodologies we use in classical studies.  This course is especially interested in engaging critically with primary sources to understand the ancient world better; we will spend time cultivating explicit strategies for working with sources that are often complex, ambiguous, intertextual, contradictory, fragmentary, and biased.  The room is available to us until 3pm and the instructor will stay behind at the end of the class to debrief with your students, offer a brief introduction to the Classics Department, and answer any questions students may have. Please arrive at 1pm.

Location: Lassonde Mining Building 128, 170 College St., Toronto, ON M5S 3E5

Note: this workshop is only offered in the winter term (January 8 — April 5)

Dates & Times:

  • Tuesdays/Thursdays: 1:10pm – 2:40pm (excluding: Feb 15, 20, 22, April 4)

Title: Classical Studies for the Contemporary World

Duration: 50 minutes

Format: In-person

Facilitated by: Adriana Brook, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream

Description: It’s not all broken pots and dusty scrolls! While the study of classics starts with ancient evidence, our discipline actually has a lot to say about the modern world. This interactive workshop will explore how engagement with ancient examples can shed light on important modern topics and how the study of classics can set you up with a wide range of skills that will make you an attractive employee and a more engaged citizen.

Note: this workshop is only offered in the winter term (February 5 – March 28, 2024)

Title: Easy German

Duration: 45 minutes

Format: Virtual

Facilitated by: TBD

Description: Join us for a whirlwind of a German workshop and get to experience the beauty and preciseness of the language through interactive games, tongue-twisters and cultural quizzes. Get ready to say "Hallo!" to a new linguistic journey filled with fun, laughter and learning.

Note: this workshop is only offered in the winter term (February 5 – March 28, 2024)

Title: Cree Language Introductions

Duration: 30 minutes, plus 10-minute Q&A

Format: Virtual

Facilitated by: Brenda Wastasecoot, Assistant Professor, Centre for Indigenous Studies, U of T

Description: Learn Cree greetings and basic introductions. Brenda is a fluent Cree speaker and will get you feeling confident with just under 10 Cree words to practice with your friends and family. 

Title: Mapping the Middle Ages

Duration: 1 hour (40-minute lecture plus 20-minute Q&A)

Format: In-person

Facilitated by: James Ginther

Description: The field of medieval studies is not a discipline like history or literature, but actually a collaboration of many disciplines that are bound together by a common time period (500-1500 CE). A medieval studies program provides opportunities for students to think about the human experience in the past through historical documents, literature, music, religious practices, philosophical texts, to name just a few. Often, though, students first have to overcome misconception of what the Middle Ages was. One of the major misconceptions is that the people of that era did not understand the world they lived in and did not represent the world accurately in their writings and artwork. In this workshop, we will discover together why this is a misconception by exploring a recently discovered map of the world from the early fourteenth century. The map will give us an opportunity to talk about topics like science and technology, politics and religion, and economics and trade, all of which encompassed not only Europe, but also North Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Title: Pali: a language of early Buddhism

Duration: 45 minutes, plus 15-minute Q&A

Format: Virtual

Facilitated by: Dr. Libbie Mills

Description: In this workshop we will work with a short passage from the Pali Buddhist canon. We’ll hear it, recite it and work out what it means.


Title: Sanskrit

Duration: 45 minutes, plus 15-minute Q&A

Format: Virtual

Facilitated by: Dr. Libbie Mills

Description: In this workshop we will work with a short Sanskrit prayer. We'll hear it, recite it, and work out what it means.


Title: Studying Buddhism through Tibetan

Duration: 45 minutes, plus 15-minute Q&A

Format: Virtual

Facilitated by: Dr. Rory Lindsay

Description: This workshop examines Buddhist concepts of meditation, karma, death, and freedom by working with key terms in the Tibetan language. No knowledge of Buddhism or Tibetan is required. Students will learn about Buddhist approaches to living and dying while also learning some basic Tibetan in the process.

Life Sciences Workshops

Register for a Life Sciences Workshop

Title: Bench to Bedside: Key Immunological Discoveries and Techniques in Clinical and Translational Immunology

Duration: 1 hour, Q&A included

Format: In-person

Facilitated by: Graduate Organization IMMspire from the Department of Immunology

Description: The immune system treads a delicate balance between tolerance and attack. Have you ever wondered how our immune system works, how we can take advantage of this powerful system to combat various diseases such as cancer and infection, and the importance it bears in different contexts like transplantation? Come join our workshop to learn about the important clinical problems that are faced by patients every day and how immunologists are developing various tools and techniques to investigate and solve them!

Note: this workshop is only offered in the winter term (February 5 – March 28, 2024)

Title: Drugs: Substance Use Disorder

Duration: 45 minutes, plus 15-minute Q&A

Format: Virtual

Facilitated by: 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: Highlights of Experimental Psychology from the Summer Psychology Research Initiative

Duration: 1 hour, Q&A included

Format: In-Person

Facilitated by: Logan Doyle, Lauren Homann, Catalina Mengyao Yang

Description: The Summer Psychology Research Initiative (SPRINT) is a summer program where high school students learn about a broad range of topics in psychology research. In this short workshop we will present the most popular experiment demos from SPRINT, as rated by past high school students. We will then explore what these experiments teach us about the mind and how psychology research is conducted. This is an overview workshop; topics will range from Social Psychology and moral development to Cognitive Psychology and visual attention!

Note: this workshop is only offered in the winter term (February 5 – March 28, 2024)


Title: Measuring the Activity of the Brain

Duration: 1 hour, Q&A included

Format: Virtual

Facilitated by: Dr. Alexander Barnett

Description: The human brain is responsible for the thoughts, feelings, and sensations we experience. Cognitive neuroscience seeks to understand how the biological substrate of the brain enables cognition. In this lecture, you will learn about the technologies used by psychologists and neuroscientists to measure brain activity in humans during complex cognitive tasks and how these measures are used to understand brain function. We will discuss the limitations of the current technology and the hopes for the future.

Note: this workshop is only offered in the winter term (February 5 – March 28, 2024)


Title: What is Attachment Style?

Duration: 1 hour, Q&A included

Format: In-person or virtual

Facilitated by: Dr. Geoff MacDonald

Description: Why do you act the way you do with the people close to you? Attachment style describes people’s patterns of how they act in close relationships such as dating or with parents and has been getting more and more attention on social media such as Tik Tok. In this workshop, you will learn how the science of relationships describes various attachment styles and get a chance to ask questions about how attachment affects peoples’ close relationships.