Teacher 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. 

Register Now

Oceans in Motion

Talk: Time and Tide Wait for No One: Ocean Tides of the Past, Present and Future (30 min. 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. 

 

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.

 

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: Watch Virtual Field Trip to SNOLAB video to find out. 

Workshop III: Virtual Tour of CERN (available for Q&A)

Facilitated by: Professor Miriam Diamond

Description: Discover CERN in Virtual Reality with 2 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

 

Atmospheric Physics

Talk I: Up, Up and Away! Doing Scientific Experiments from a Really Big Balloon (30 min. talk plus 15 min. Q&A) 

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! 

Talk II: A Visit to the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Lab (PEARL) (30 min talk plus15-min Q&A) 

Facilitated by: Professor Kaley Walker

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 (45 min.)

Facilitated by: Professor Kaley Walker

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 45 minutes (15-minute introductory talk + 30-minute practical)

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

 

Condensed Matter Physics

Talk: The Challenge of Superconductivity (30 min. plus 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.

 

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 include: Classical kinematics & dynamics, momentum, energy, force, friction, work, power, angular momentum, oscillations, waves, sound.

Day and Times: Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays from 11 am-12 pm (Choose a date that you would like your class to sit in on the lecture.)

https://www9.physics.utoronto.ca/undergraduate/undergraduate-courses/introduction-to-physics-i-3/

PHY 151 – Foundations of Physics I

Instructors: Stephen Julian and Paul Kushner

Description: The first-year 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.

Day and Times: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 12-1 pm (Choose a date that you would like to sit in on the lecture.)

https://www9.physics.utoronto.ca/undergraduate/undergraduate-courses/foundations-of-physics-i/

 

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: Symmetry and Tilings

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.

Math is Analog

Facilitated by: Anne Dranowski (Member, IAS) and Rownak Tabassum (Intermediate/ Senior Teacher Candidate, Queen’s University)

Talk: How about Gauss (30 minutes, plus Q and A)

Description: We survey straight edge and compass constructions from antiquity to Gauss. Time permitting we use origami to solve a cubic.

Optional Short Workshop: Can you square a circle? (30 minutes)

Description: Students play around with straight edge and compass axioms and/or origami axioms to perform elementary operations such as bisect a line or construct an angle.

Required Equipment: Ruler and compass, folding paper

Workshop: Simulation of Complex Systems

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.

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.  

Workshop: Podcast Hosts, Research Assistants and World Travelers – All Part of Being Earth Sciences Undergraduates (1 hour)

Facilitated by: Undergraduate students Sofia Panasiuk and Dean Hiler

Description: Science undergraduates at U of T have many opportunities and choices. Talk with two students from Earth Sciences who have made experiential learning in science a big part of their careers as students. They have traveled, taken fieldwork courses, worked in research labs, been involved in industry mentorships and internships, joined their student executive and, when in person activities were no longer an option as part of their university experience, they partnered to start a podcast, connecting with a Professors and Researchers to talk about interesting science papers and topics.  

Lesson I: Mineralogy 101 – An Introduction to the Study of Minerals and Crystallography (45 min.)

Speakers: Undergraduate and graduate students

Description: A brief introduction into the world of mineralogy. We will be taking a look at how we define as a mineral and how we identify unique minerals. Following we will describe some common minerals and go over some of the tools that geologists use in order to identify hundreds of different minerals. Finally, we will look at some of items that we use in our everyday lives and which minerals are used in their production. 

Lesson II: The Canadian Arctic and Climate Change (1 hour)

Speakers: Undergraduate and graduate students

Description: The Canadian Arctic is a vast, relatively unmanned landscape. It is a harsh environment, facing extreme colds and endless winds. That being said, the Arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the world. As climate change progresses, the advanced warming of the Arctic becomes an increasing concern, as important ecological functions are reversed. In this lesson we will go over the importance of permafrost and the release of methane associated with its melting. We will also discuss the melting Arctic glaciers and the unique importance of the presence of ice on a paleoenvironmental scale. 

Lesson III: A Brief History of Earth (1 hour)

Speakers: Undergraduate and graduate students

Description: This lesson will take us back 4.6 Billion years to the dawn of Earth. Beginning when there was no land and only boiling magma, all the way to the first sign of life – a mere bacteria. Evolution progresses and eventually the protective ozone layer was created, which allowed for life to move out of the oceans. Following the storyline all the way to the age of fish, to the largest extinction event of all time and the dawn of the dinosaurs. The lesson will go through all five mass extinction events, and the new life that was born in their wake. 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. 

Lesson IV: How to find evidence of past earthquakes? (1hr)

Speakers: Monica Giona Bucci, Postdoctoral Fellow at UTM

Description: Earthquakes are amongst the most widely known phenomena that come to mind when thinking about the word "geo-hazard". Knowing about past and recent evidence of earthquakes can help in better understanding the landscapes we live in. This brief lesson will introduce students to the concept of hazards/geohazards and explain the techniques that scientists who work in this field apply, in order to investigate past earthquakes and thus better determine the recurrence of these events in the future.