Over 100 years ago, Einstein's theory of General Relativity revolutionized the way we think about space and time. Rather than being static, he discovered that space-time is a malleable fabric that can be stretched and bent to form gravitational lenses, black holes, wormholes, and other exotic phenomena. In this session, we’ll explore the mind-bending consequences of this theory using a simple experiment. We’ll then visit our digital planetarium to see some of the latest discoveries in this field. Finally, we’ll take you up to the observatory to see our large collection of telescopes, and if the weather cooperates, we’ll use them to try to catch sun spots and solar flares in the act.
Using Physics and Chemistry to Measure the Atmosphere
Although the term climate change has become commonplace in our everyday language, few people actually know how climate-related data are measured and analyzed. This session will introduce you to a variety of instruments that make climate-related measurements of the atmosphere. You will participate in a series of climate-science activities including investigating cloud formation and the chemistry of aerosols by creating clouds in the laboratory; learning how to measure aerosol optical thickness using a sun photometer; and exploring the electromagnetic spectrum and the physics of light through spectroscopy by constructing a spectroscope and examining the spectra of various light sources.
Berry Solar Cells!
Why are berries so brightly coloured? It's actually because the absorb a lot of light - raspberries look bright red because they absorb the other colours of light, so the light they reflect into your eye looks red. We will use the energy of the light they absorb to make electricity! You will get to extract dye from berries and build your own dye-sensitized solar cell using conductive glass, titanium dioxide nanocrystals, and an iodine electrolyte solution
Computer science and information technology have always had connections to the sciences, but never as much as they do today. As new technologies develop, they allow for the possibility of new scientific discoveries and solutions to huge scientific challenges. By creating a single computer program, one can solve problems that might otherwise take an army of scientists years to figure out. In this workshop, using video gaming as a framework, we’ll show you some of the basic tools of computing and how they can be applied to a variety of scientific problems. By the time you’re done, you’ll see how computers and technology might be applied to physics, chemistry, biology and forensics to represent and solve all sorts of cool problems!
Earth Sciences encourage you to ask questions of your home planet. This session will take a hands-on approach using microscopy of rocks, minerals and plants to better understand the properties, processes, resources and history of the planet. Students will also analyze near-surface geophysical data collected at a forensic site.
Math: It’s All Around
Mathematics is in everything we see and everything we do, it surrounds us. From data encryption to fractal patterns in nature, math is everywhere and touches on just about everything. Come join us for some great hands-on activities showing the world of mathematics. The math portion of this program will focus on symmetry and spatial patterns. We'll build some mathematical models, and talk about about how symmetry is applied in mathematics and art.
Scientific Computing in Physics
Scientific computing is a major tool in physics research. In this workshop, students will learn about computer simulations of physical systems. How does one computerize the laws of physics? How does one model collisions? How do the approximations in computer models compare with reality? Simple models of projectile motion and collisions will be investigated in an effort to build a physically accurate “Angry Birds” simulation. Then we’ll build the real thing!
Use a laser to measure the diameter of a human hair or to count the pixels on a smartphone’s screen. You’ll be applying the same principles used to measure the size of distant stars or to determine molecular structures ranging from simple crystals to DNA to complex proteins.
School of the Environment
COBWEB Simulation Program
This session provides students with an introduction to complexity using interactive activities and the COBWEB simulation program. The interactive activities are used to introduce a conceptual framework for discussion complexity (attractors, resilience, collapse, sensitivity to initial conditions, self-organization, agent-based modelling, game theory). These interactive activities are drawn from branches of mathematics (number theory and game theory) as well as physics and computer science. COBWEB has been used to represent a range of systems from neuroscience to ecology to geography to sociology. We will use some of these systems to explore how complexity can be used to understand the behaviour of a large number of systems. COBWEB also has built in modules for game theory (Prisoner’s Dilemma) and spatial probability. Students will get an introduction to complexity, simulation and experimental design. They will also be able to obtain the software at no cost.