Physicists demystify science for 700 Guelph students

The University of Guelph's physics department is hosting STEM week, to teach grade 6 to 8 kids more about science and so undergrad students can learn how to be better science communicators.

University of Guelph's physics department running workshops at the Guelph Civic Museum

A parent volunteers for the electricity workshop at STEM Week. (Peggy Lam/CBC)

University of Guelph's physics department is partnering with the Guelph Civic Museum to deliver STEM Week —  a daily workshop series for grade 6 to 8 students that teaches them about the fundamentals of science.

According to Orbax Thomas, the department's communications officer, 700 kids have signed up for the workshops. 

"Science becomes this thing that people distrust, they don't really understand, so communication on all people's parts is better — we need to be better communicators and people need to think that this stuff isn't that scary," Thomas said. 

Grade 6 to 8 students attending STEM Week rotate through four different workshops to learn about electricity, mechanics and catapult, air resistance and surface tension. 

Daniel Teasdale, a grade 7 student who attended the workshops on Tuesday afternoon, said the day was "awesome"  and "so much fun."  He said his favourite part of the day was the electricity workshop. 

"When he zapped himself and had the light tube in his mouth," Teasdale said. 

Students participate in Orbax Thomas' electricity workshop at the Guelph Civic Museum. (Peggy Lam/CBC)

Jessy Thompson, 12, said she "learned a lot."  

"We learned about electricity and did an elephant toothpaste experiment," said Thompson. "At first, science, I thought, 'hm'... but now seeing it, it looks a lot more cool, you can actually understand it now."   

By running the program, the third year undergraduate physics students also learn how to be better science communicators by designing the workshop curriculum and delivering  the30-minute sessions. 

Erin McGee, a graduate student at the University of Guelph studying nuclear physics, is assisting with the air resistance workshop for STEM Week. 

"With people being able to spread information really easily, I think it's important to be able to interpret that information properly and it's important to communicate what you're actually talking about and have people not misinterpret what you're saying," she said. 

STEM Week sessions run daily at the Guelph Civic Museum until Thursday. Any student in grade 6 to 8 can sign up for the workshops which run twice daily.