Metro Vancouver Physics Circle

The Physics Circle is an outreach program catering to motivated and advanced high school students in physics. The intention is threefold:

  • To expose students to more advanced physics than they may receive in a standard high school setting.
  • To prepare students for physics contests such as the C.A.P. Prize Exam and the Sir Isaac Newton Exam.
  • To encourage and cultivate interest and enthusiasm in physics.

Since its inception in 2011, UBC students, along with the support of their professors, strive to provide a greater breadth of opportunities for high school students to enhance their experience with university-level physics.

The Circle will consist of 2 hour sessions on Thursdays (from 5:00-7:15 PM), happening every 2-3 weeks, and will be held on the UBC Vancouver Campus.

Features of the Program

  • UBC Physics professors will give lectures on advanced physics topics, including sharing some of their research.
  • Participating students will be given challenging problems to solve; the students may tackle in groups, solo and/or with the assistance of volunteers.
  • Students may have the opportunity to access UBC Physics laboratories (pending availability) and conduct experiments under the supervision of Physics professors and volunteers, on topics relevant to the session.
  • Pizza and refreshments will be provided at all sessions for every participant to enjoy.
  • Sessions may be longer than the standard 2 hours from time to time.

A small, one-time registration fee ($10) is collected at the first session to cover the cost of running the program and offering pizza for students and volunteers. All interested students should contact Pedram Laghaei (  Additionally, do not hesitate to email if you have any questions.  We look forward to seeing you at Metro Vancouver Physics Circle!

Upcoming Sessions for the 2018-2019 Cycle

WEDNESDAY  May 29, 2019 David Wakeham, PhD Candidate (Fermi Estimates: From Harry Potter to E.T.)
Location – Hennings Building, Room 304.  For map, click here.

Problem Sets and Solutions from Current Cycle

November 22, 2018:   Problem Set #1 and solutions.

November 29, 2018:   Problem Set #2 and solutions.

January 24, 2019:       Problem Set #3 and solutions.

January 31, 2019:       Problem Set #4 and solutions.

February 14, 2019:     Problem Set #5 and solutions.

March 14, 2019:         Problem Set #6 and solutions.

March 28, 2019:         Problem Set #7 and solutions.

April 11, 2019:            Problem Set #8 and solutions.

May 2, 2019:              Problem Set #9; solutions will be available soon.

May 16, 2019:            Problem Set #10; solutions will be available soon.

Problem Sets and Solutions from Previous Cycles

March 1, 2018:       Problem Set #1 and solutions.

March 15, 2018:     Problem Set #2 and solutions.

April 5, 2018:          Problem Set #3 and solutions.

April 19, 2018:        Problem Set #4 and solutions.

May 2, 2018:          There is no problem set for this date (lab session).

May 17, 2018:         Problem Set #5 and solutions.

May 31, 2018:         Problem Set #6; solutions will be available soon.

One problem set with solutions is available from Physics Circle 2014-2015.

Physics Circle Forums via Piazza

Students registering for Metro Vancouver Physics Circle will be invited to join the UBC Physics Circle Piazza forums. Please note that by signing to join Piazza, you are consenting to the storage of information by the Piazza service, which might not be hosted in Canada. If you are not sure about this, please make sure to ask your parents to get their permission to join Piazza. You are not required to sign up to Piazza to participate in Physics Circle activities.

Piazza is an online question-and-answer platform where students can (anonymously) post questions and collaborate to edit responses to these questions.  Instructors and volunteers can also answer questions, endorse student answers, and edit content.

We hope to use Piazza to communicate and simulate real discussions during the time between our bi-weekly lectures, to provide help with the problem sets and discuss any other interesting physics related questions.

Piazza will also serve as a platform to share the problem sets and solutions, in case participants cannot attend the sessions.

Do you have any questions about Physics Circle or Piazza? Email

Outline of the Circle

Each session will start with a lecture provided by a professor from UBC Department of Physics and Astronomy; the presentation may discuss the speaker’s research and focus, area(s) of interest, future directions in their field, and more.  After the presentation and at the start of the second hour, students will be served pizza and refreshments.  At the same time, students will be given challenging physics problems to think about.  The problems are designed by volunteers of the program and are intended to resemble questions similar to contest problems.  Students are encouraged to work in teams and discuss amongst their peers.  Volunteers will provide hints as required by students; they will mentor and guide students.

Since one of the goals of the Circle is to familiarize students with the proper usage of standard physics lab equipment (e.g. multimeters, oscilloscopes, function generators), we aim to organize lab sessions to provide students with experience in university physics labs.

Our Volunteers

Pedram Laghaei – Program Organizer/Coordinator
David Wakeham
Ennio Moreau
Hailey Ahn
Pedram Amani
Wu Jih (Andy) Hsu

Previous Guest Speakers

We are grateful to the following professors for volunteering their time in joining Physics Circle and sharing their expertise with us all.

Dr. Alex MacKay (Medical Physics, Magnetic Resonance Imaging)

Alex May, PhD Candidate (Theoretical Physics, special lecture)

Dr. Alison Lister (Particle Physics, ATLAS Experiment at CERN)

Dr. Chris Waltham (Music and Physics)

Dr. Christa Van Laerhoven (Astronomy & Astrophysics)

David Wakeham, PhD Candidate (Dimensional Analysis)

Dr. Douglas Scott (Cosmology)

Gary Tom, MSc Candidate (Exploring the Nano-Universe)

Dr. Ian Affleck (Theoretical Physics, Condensed Matter)

Dr. Jaymie Matthews (Astronomy & Astrophysics)

Dr. Joanna Karczmarek (Theoretical Physics:  Low and High Dimensions)

Dr. Joss Ives (Optics Lab Session)

Lucas Bezerra, MSc Candidate (Dark Matter and Neural Networks)

Dr. Mark Halpern (Astronomy & Astrophysics)

Dr. Mark Van Raamsdonk (Theoretical Physics:  Quantum Gravity)

Dr. Valery Milner (Molecular Dreidels: Spinning Molecules with a Laser Beam)

Previous Volunteers

Alice Shang
Carina Graf
Eric Neal
Leo Sporn
Steven Zheng