.boxed { border: 1px solid green ; }
Modern Physics

Quantum for Educators 2024 Workshop

John Donohue, IQC Senior Manager, Scientific Outreach

Date: July 29-31, 2024
Location: Institute for Quantum Computing, University of Waterloo, Ontario

The Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo is excited to announce our 2024 free in-person summer workshop on quantum mechanics and quantum technology.

The 10th Quantum for Educators (QEd) workshop (formerly known as Schrödinger’s Class) will take place July 29-31 this year. Led by quantum experts from the IQC, QEd will explore fundamental quantum principles like superposition, wave-particle duality, and entanglement and show how they are applied in emerging technologies like quantum computing. Participants can expect to leave with affordable activities and accessible lesson plans with concrete curriculum connections to take back to their classrooms.

Financial support for travel and accommodations is available for Canadian teachers. Applications are due Friday May 3rd.

Schrödinger's Class

John Donohue, IQC Senior Manager, Scientific Outreach

Date: December 1-3, 2023
Location: Institute for Quantum Computing, University of Waterloo, Ontario

The Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) has a free workshop on quantum mechanics and quantum technology taking place December 1-3 on the University of Waterloo campus. Schrödinger's Class will provide you with lesson plans and affordable, ready-to-go activities explained by quantum experts to take back to your classroom. Applications are due Monday October 16th. Financial support for travel and accommodations is available.

The 45th Annual OAPT Conference - Registration Now Open!

The OAPT is pleased to return to its traditional 3-day in-person conference in 2023! We are looking forward to connecting with new members and welcoming back returning members. Take advantage to (re)connect with educators from across the province at Perimeter Institute in Waterloo from Thursday May 4 until Saturday May 6.

2023 Image 1

High School Physics Teachers Evening at York University

Randy Lewis, Department of Physics and Astronomy, York University

All high school physics teachers are warmly invited to York University at 5:30 PM on Friday November 11, 2022. This annual tradition has not been possible for the past two years, and professors in our Department of Physics and Astronomy are looking forward to reconnecting with high school teachers this year.

Three York professors will give short talks about their research. Tours of our telescope (which is the largest on any university campus in Canada) will be available. Dinner and drinks will be provided, and there will be opportunities for casual conversations with new colleagues and familiar friends. We also have a collection of textbooks that are no longer needed at York, and we are glad to donate these to any high school teachers who can make good use of them. Read More...

Review: How Far Away Is It?

Robert Prior, ePublisher OAPT Newsletter

There’s a lot of good physics (and math) embedded in the grade nine space unit, if you know where to look for it. David Butler is a retired computer scientist who is fascinated with space, and he’s applied his mathematical background to explaining, in simple terms, what’s behind the fancy pictures we see from NASA, and how we know what we know about the universe. To do this he’s created a series of video books focusing on different topics, as well as hundreds of short classroom-ready video clips on topics ranging from astronomy to quantum mechanics. Read More...

General Relativity: Beyond the Bowling Ball and the Trampoline

Kelly Foyle (kfoyle@perimeterinstitute.ca), Outreach Scientist, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics
Philip Freeman (
freeman@sphericalcows.net), Teacher, sd38 (Richmond) Richmond, BC

The authors were inspired to write this article while they worked on Perimeter Institute’s new black hole resource together. To learn more about general relativity and black holes and find ready-to-use, hands-on activities you can do with your class, download the free resource here.

One of the most startling and remarkable discoveries of the 20th century was that gravity is not a mysterious, invisible force. In developing general relativity, Einstein showed that gravity is the curvature of spacetime due to the presence of mass and energy. But what does the “curvature of spacetime” mean? It is hard to get your head around this mind-bending concept! In relativity, space and time are mixed together into “spacetime” and gravity is explained by the curved geometry of this combination. That space and time can be mixed and curved is contradictory to all our everyday experiences. It is a lot for our brains to handle. While physicists can use the equations, even they need to use analogies to build a deep understanding of such counterintuitive concepts.

One common analogy used to introduce general relativity is the idea of a “mass on a rubber sheet” or “bowling ball on a trampoline”. The bending of the surface caused by the mass pulling the sheet down is used to illustrate the curvature of spacetime in general relativity. A rolling marble on the surface follows a curved path, or “orbits” the central mass, giving convincing evidence of the parallel between the sheet and the action of gravity. But there is a problem with this demonstration – it isn’t showing what it claims to show. In this article we argue that this analogy, as used, is fundamentally flawed and creates significant misunderstanding for both students and teachers. We explain where the problems arise, and how to avoid these problems and still provide a strong visual model and deeper understanding of how general relativity works. Read More...

Relativistic Mass or Rest Mass?

Philip Freeman, teacher at Richmond Secondary School (Richmond BC), Executive member BCAPT

Most short introductions to special relativity include the idea that the relativistic mass of an object depends on its velocity (m = γm0). However, if you do much further reading in modern physics you will soon come across the idea that this is a bad concept. Why? What is wrong with the term ‘relativistic mass’? Some answers to this are physical, some ideological. Here is an overview of the case for and against relativistic mass. Read More...

Schrödinger's Class

John Donohue

Date & Time: November 22-24
Location: Institute for Quantum Computing, University of Waterloo, Ontario

Join us for three days at the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) for the fifth Schrödinger's Class teachers' workshop on quantum mechanics. You will have the opportunity to attend lectures and engage in hands-on activities focused on the integration of quantum technology into the current teaching curriculum. We will discuss quantum information science and technology to give you a deeper understanding of quantum mechanics. You will discover how harnessing remarkable quantum phenomena is not only transforming the way we compute and communicate today, but how it will change the technological landscape of tomorrow.

Application Deadline: October 4th 2019
The workshop will run November 22-24 2019

The workshop is open to any Canadian science and technology teacher, with a focus on physics and chemistry. There is no registration fee, and costs of transportation, accommodation, and meals are covered.

More details can be found at: www.uwaterloo.ca/iqc/programs/schrodingers-class

The Hole Truth: Why black holes aren’t what you’ve probably been told they are!

Philip Freeman, teacher at Richmond Secondary School (Richmond BC), Executive member BCAPT

Black holes are big news these days. Unfortunately a significant number of statements in the press are not only mistaken but wrong in ways that obscure the truly interesting and important things we know about black holes. This article hopes to clarify a number of points about what black holes are and are not. Read More...

Event Horizon Telescope Captures First-ever Image of a Black Hole

Damian Pope, PhD, Senior Manager Scientific Outreach, Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

What is the Event Horizon Telescope?
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is a network of radio telescopes spread across the globe. By pooling data from each instrument, it achieves the same effective resolution as a dish the size of the entire planet!

What did it discover?
The EHT collaboration has just released the first event-horizon-scale images of M87*, a supermassive black hole at the centre of galaxy M87. The image shows an asymmetric ring of light surrounding a circular shadow. The ring of light is not the accretion disk, it is the footprint of the relativistic jet created by M87*. The asymmetry is evidence for the direction of the black hole’s spin. The size of the shadow reveals the mass of M87* which can then be used to calculate the radius of the event horizon. Note, the shadow is not the event horizon. Read More...

Hands-On Fields

Roberta Tevlin
Teacher at Danforth CTI, Manager OAPT Newsletter

The concept of fields is fundamental to our modern understanding of physics and the Ontario curriculum dedicates one of the five units in 12U physics to Gravitational, Electric and Magnetic Fields. I have struggled for many years to find ways to make this important but abstract concept more tangible to my students. Here is what I have come up with so far. Read More...

Scrambled Science: A Writing and Thinking Activity

Roberta Tevlin, Manager OAPT Newsletter, teacher at Danforth CTI

Are you tired of reading answers from your students that just blather on and on about anything that is vaguely related to the question? It took me many years to realize that I needed to explicitly teach my students how to write a good answer. Dave Doucette’s workshops on giving students the H.O.T.S. (Higher Order Thinking Skills) started me on this path. Learning to write clearly also helps students to think clearly. In an earlier article, I presented an activity called Writing with the Four C’s. This time I would like to present something I call “Scrambled Science”. Read More...

Demonstrating Polarized Interference

Roberta Tevlin, OAPT Editor, Teacher Danforth CTI
Rolly Meisel, OAPT Photographer

The interference of light is a very important concept in senior high school physics and has been for a long time. The polarization of light used to be a minor topic but has become more and more important over the last couple of decades because of its use in LCD screens and 3-D movies and because it is possible to get a cheap class set of polarized filters. This article describes a demonstration that combines polarization and interference. Read More...

Building a Michelson Interferometer, Part II

Richard Taylor, Merivale High School, Ottawa
(see also

In the last episode, I had received the main parts of a Michelson Interferometer (the mirrors) and had roughly set them up using Lego stands. In the past couple of weeks I have been working on making a more stable and adjustable platform for this interferometer. Read More...

REVIEW: Three Short Videos of the Double Slit Experiment

Roberta Tevlin, OAPT Editor, Teacher Danforth CTI

The double-slit experiment is one of the strongest pieces of evidence for the wave nature of light and it is also the best place to start to explore the key concepts of quantum physics. By this point, most teachers in Ontario are familiar with the great, free teaching resource from The Perimeter Institute of Theoretical called The Challenge of Quantum Reality. If you haven’t got yours yet, you should! Three short, on-line videos are now available as an addition to the resource. Read More...

Building a Michelson Interferometer

Richard Taylor, Merivale High School, Ottawa
(see also

My school has had a Michelson Interferometer for many years, and I always show it to my grade 12 students to help explain the Michelson-Morley experiment - the one that showed that the speed of light does not depend on the motion of the observer. I showed this interferometer to some other Physics teachers on the February 2016 PD day in Ottawa. They were very interested and wanted to show their students. So I thought I would find out if I could build a similar and very inexpensive interferometer. Read More...

Great Annual Opportunity at the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon

Saara Naudts, OAPT Contest Editor, Physics Teacher North Park SS
Each December, teachers from across Canada have an opportunity to experience what goes on at one of Canada’s biggest research facilities. After an easy application process, including a generous amount of available funding and very helpful communication with Tracy Walker the CLS outreach coordinator; I and several other teachers flew out to Saskatoon to visit the synchrotron December 5-7, 2015. Read More...

Let Your Grade 12 Students Leave High School Thinking Modern Physics is Fun…

Sandy Evans, Northview Heights Secondary School

I used to have our Grade 12 Physics students write a research paper on a Modern Physics topic; however this year I decided to let them do something more creative. They ended up really having fun with the assignment and it was A LOT more fun to mark than 50 essays. They were told about this assignment and their Rube Goldberg Build assignment at the beginning of the semester but the Modern Physics Creative Piece was not due until one week before exams. Read More...

Gravity Waves: The Fast Track to the Best Resources

Margaret Scora, Mhona Russell, James Ball and Roberta Tevlin

The announcement that LIGO has detected gravity waves may have you scrambling to answer your student’s questions. This news connects to many topics in high school physics including waves and vibrations, interference of light, changing models of science and the analysis of data - especially the problem of signal to noise ratios. Many teaching resources have been suggested (listed at the bottom) and these have been examined to select which are the most useful for high school physics teachers. The selected videos are well-scaffolded and paced. They make good use of animations, physical models and analogies and showed a wide diversity in the people interviewed. Demos and activities were selected which require minimal prep time and cost for the teacher and which provide active-learning experiences for the student. Read More...

An Experiment Involving Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle

James Ball, OAPT Membership Chair, Physics Teacher, John F. Ross C.V.I.

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle is a very abstract concept for most high school students and teachers. This lab activity is a simple variation of a single slit diffraction experiment. It clearly shows that defining the location of a photon (by passing it through a slit) increases our uncertainty about its momentum. Read More...

GPS Meets Einstein

Damian Pope, Senior Manager of Outreach Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics

Column Editor’s Note: The author of this article presented a fascinating talk about this topic at the 2010 OAPT Conference. Via the weblink provided in the article, readers can obtain access to a very useful student activity that demonstrates the importance of relativity in the operation of GPS.

The Global Positioning System (GPS) is one of the twentieth century’s greatest engineering marvels. Today, it’s the backbone of billions of dollars of economic activity. It’s used by a vast array of occupations including farmers, construction workers, doctors and even professional athletes. And all this comes on top of the more familiar personal applications like satellite navigation in cars and for hiking.

As well as being immensely practical, the GPS also involves some pretty cool physics — even, strangely enough, Einstein’s theory of relativity. Read More...

The Simple Demonstration of the Photoelectric Effect

Eknath V. Maratha, St. Catharines, Ontario

In 1900, Max Planck worked out a relatively simple energy radiation equation for a black body that described the distribution of radiation accurately over the entire range of frequencies. His equation was based on a crucial assumption: radiant energy is not infinitely subdivisible. Like matter, it exists in “particles.” These particles Planck called quanta, or in the singular, “quantum.” He further suggested that the size of the quantum, also known as “photon,” for any particular form of electromagnetic radiation, was in direct proportion to its frequency. In the visible spectrum, a photon of violet light would therefore contain more energy than a photon of red light. The small constant that is the ratio of the energy of a photon (E) and the frequency(v) of the photon radiation is called Planck’s constant and it is symbolized as h = E/v). It is now recognized as one of the fundamental constants of the universe. Planck’s theory, known as Quantum Theory, was applied by Einstein in explaining the photoelectric effect. Read More...

Lasers: A Solution looking for a Problem

Roberta Tevlin, OAPT Editor, Teacher Danforth CTI
Edited by Margaret Scora

Lasers are quantum light sources and they are everywhere. But what is quantum about them? The PhET simulation is a great tool to give students a feel for the quantum process called stimulated emission. Read More...

Particle Physics Crossword Solution

The solution to last week’s physics-themed crossword puzzle. How well did you do? Read More...

Particle Physics Crossword

The holidays are a time to relax with friends and family. In the spirit of holiday fun, the OAPT brings you a physics-themed crossword puzzle, filled with cryptic clues and bad puns. Read More...
©Ontario Association of Physics Teachers Contact the Newsletter