Physicists and astronomers study the material world and the energy that drives it, from the smallest particles like neutrinos and Higgs bosons to the very largest structures in the universe, and ultimately the universe itself.
Each year, the UBC Physics & Astronomy Outreach Program delivers a large variety of programs to pique students’ interests in physics and astronomy. We also engage them to explore these subjects with hands-on and interactive activities. With a committed group of faculty members, student volunteers, and school teachers, the program reaches more than 4000 children and youth directly through our activities including science competitions, summer camps, workshops, and school field trips. We reach another 3-5000 through activities organized by our partners.
With a mandate to engage students from groups underrepresented in science or facing socioeconomic challenges, most of our activities are free of charge, or include opportunities for participants to receive subsidies.
You can sign up for a monthly giving program, make a one-time gift, or pay an existing pledge. If you are considering a larger gift to the program, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 604-822-0596 for more information.
You contribution will help support the following:
Learn more about the activities your contribution will go to:
Experience Science at UBC (students facing socioeconomic challenges)
Experience Science at UBC is a biannual one-day event focusing on hands-on science activities (with topics in physics, biodiversity, computer science, math, and geology) for students from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Canada; We are expanding the program into inner city Surrey. The event is free, with transportation provided. We run this event twice each year, accommodating a total of 350-400 students. Since 2010, we have hosted 2273 disadvantaged grade 4-7 students. While this event is a cross-campus collaboration, it is led and organized through the Outreach Program.
Most Experience Science student participants face socioeconomic challenges, 16% of whom are indigenous, and many are new immigrants. Providing transportation is the key; many parents cannot afford the additional costs incurred when sending a child on a field trip. A participating teacher said: “The program is of great value and provides a tangible experience of science in its many forms. In a time of reduced funding, maintaining an adequate supply of scientific resources for experimentation is becoming increasingly difficult…It also introduces them to the university campus and allows them to imagine themselves attending higher education. This can be a powerful motivator for their futures.”
Your contribution will go toward the cost of bus transportation for students visiting UBC.
Girl Guide, Ember, Pathfinder and Scouts group visits
We have been conducting regular visits to Brownies (age 7-8) and Guides (age 9-11) since 2012. , recently adding Pathfinders and mixed female/male Scout groups. Each year we reach ~ 350 children. These visits are led by Physics & Astronomy student volunteers (at least 50% female for each presentation). They start by introducing what they study as physicists and/or astronomers, and instruct students in hands-on activities including building their own LED flash light and making physics toys. The visits provide an opportunity for the girls to be exposed to the subject of physics (first time for most of them), and meet female physicist mentors. The students take their projects home, which further amplifies the impact by making “physics” something tangible to share with their families, friends, and classmates.
Feedback from a parent: “She was so excited to show us the tumble toy, how it moved and why. We had numerous demonstrations. She loved that it involved some of her own making and decisions on colours etc. I think her enjoyment came from creating something herself that was artistic as well as scientific.” With UBC CS, we will share our experience developing activities and managing visits, and together create new computer science themed activities on cryptography and communications system. CS volunteers will join Physics volunteers in leading these activities.
In 2020-2021, we conducted virtual visits where girls participated in hands-on activities using supplies they could find at home, or interactive presentations where they learned about what physicists and astronomers study.
Your contribution will go toward the cost of supplies for hands-on activities, and hiring a part-time student to help develop activities and manage all the visit requests we receive.
Physics & Astronomy Summer Camp Bursary Program (students facing socioeconomic challenges)
Started in 1996, our Phenomenal Physics Summer Camp Program is for children ages 6-17. Activities include visits to labs, talks with physicists, and hands-on projects. The camps are run by the outreach team together with two certified teachers, two undergraduate students, and 10-15 high school volunteers. Each year, 160 students attend our summer camp program while we continue to have long waiting lists. About one third of the participants come back year after year, and have then been followed by younger siblings.
The summer camp offers bursaries to students from less privileged background. We work directly with school principals to solicite nominations of students who otherwise don’t have the financial means to participate in our summer camp program. We receive 50+ applications annually and offer 16-18 spots.
Here is one of the remarks we received from a parent: “I appreciate that your camp offers the bursary program. It gave my daughter an experience she would not otherwise have but really suited her serious interest in science. I also feel your staff do an excellent job of translating the principles behind the science into fun activities that truly help the children understand the science and they will remember”.
Your contribution will go toward the summer camp bursary program.
Annual Faraday Science Show
The Faraday Show is a free annual science lecture designed for children, and presented by UBC Physics & Astronomy faculty and students. Each year the event is attended by 2-300 children and their parents. We explore the physics behind topics such as toys, music, seasons, and more, through theatre demonstrations.
Your contribution will go toward the cost of supplies, and hiring a part-time student to organize and develop the demonstrations used in the show.