Physics Elementary School Outreach Programs

Exploring Energy

This workshop will cover energy in terms of conversion, consumption and conservation. Some of the questions that will be explored and demonstrated are:

  • How much water does the water turbine need to light the LED strips?
  • Make a wind turbine generate enough power to play a song
  • How hot do black and white plates get?
  • Demonstration of the greenhouse effect
  • How much energy does it take to light a 60 watt bulb?

This two-hour workshop is suitable for students in Grades 4 - 6. Maximum 36 students.

There are six activity stations including fuel cell car and riding a stationary bike or participating in an energy game. 

Click here to enroll your class.

This workshop is run in partnership with the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions at SFU.

Forces and Motion

In this workshop,  students will experiment with simple levers and balances constructed from everyday materials such as meter sticks. They will learn about the physical concepts that allow a large load to be lifted with a small force.

This 1.5 hour workshop is suitable for students from Grades 4 - 7.

Click here to enroll your class.

Solar System Spurt

The solar system is massive - so big it is hard for us to grasp the enormity of it. The Solar System Spurt scales the size of the solar system down to a manageable scale which helps us to truly grasp the enormity of our solar system.

In this workshop we shrink the solar system, and everything in it, by 6 billion times.  Each one-meter pace that you take along our custom campus route represents 6 million kilometers in the actual solar system. That also shrinks the Sun to a 23-cm diameter balloon, the Earth to a 0.2-cm bead and Pluto (an honorary planet in our model) to a pinhead - and on this scale, Pluto is an amazing one-kilometer from the Sun!

Complete the spurt and get a souvenir set of ten colourful solar system postcards.

Your voyage will be led by our experienced space captains.  We use postcards with information on each planet to the help guide the trip: a postcard gives the scaled distance in one-meter paces from one planet to the next, along with interesting facts about the destination planet. We take turns counting paces, ten paces each turn. Complete the trip and take home all 10 postcards as souvenirs, and use them to take your family and friends on your very own solar system spurt!

This workshop is suitable for students from K-6. Students should wear weather appropriate clothing for this 1 hour workshop.

Click here to enroll your class.

*inspired by Guy Ottewell's "The Earth as a Peppercorn" (


Lasers in Action

The workshop brings key topics from the BC Grade 8 Science curriculum into focus and gives examples of the important role light & lasers play in our daily lives. Topics include: light as energy, reflection, refraction, total internal reflection, the electromagnetic spectrum and colour.

What does the workshop consist of?

Students are divided into five groups. (Maximum 45 children/workshop)

The first 20 minutes of the workshop consist of several instructor led demonstrations where students are asked questions to probe their current understanding and to get them thinking in a scientific manner.

In the second part of the workshop, the groups rotate through five stations of activities. Each station is intended to last 10-15 minutes. At the end of the rotations, the groups are brought back together for a question-and-answer period concerning the activities of the day.

This 2 hour workshop is suitable for students from Grades 4-9 and available from 10am - 12 noon Tuesday-Friday.

This workshop is also available for high-school students. Click here.

Click here to enroll your class.

Cosmology for the Curious Mind

This lecture provides basic introduction into what we know about our universe and how this knowledge is obtained. What does it mean to have an expanding universe? Was there a Big Bang? Are Dark Matter and Dark Energy real? These are some of the questions that will be discussed.

This lecture is available for K - Grade 12 classes. Teachers interested in bringing their classes should email to register.

Instructor Dr. Levon Pogosian is a physicist, cosmologist and an Associate Professor in the Physics department of SFU.

The class is offered free of charge and is held in the Trottier Studio for Innovative Education at the Burnaby campus. This event is approximately an hour and a half in length.

Click here to enroll your class.

Electromagnetism in Action

In this workshop students work through ten activities that demonstrate static electricity, Faraday’s Cage, magnetic materials and Ampere’s Law. They will experiment with static electricity and discover how different materials attract or repel each other. Students will get to make a motor that converts electrical power into mechanical power and use a compass to map out magnetic fields.

This workshop is designed for students in grades 6 and 7.

This workshop is 2 hours long and limited to 24 students

Click here to enroll your class.

Heat Energy

Heat can do anything: move from one area to another, get atoms excited, and even increase energy. Through four activities, students will discover how heat is a form of energy and observe how different objects expand or shrink depending on their temperature. Students will experiment with heat transfer-conduction, heat transfer-convection and heat transfer-radiation and learn how a Stirling engine works.

This workshop is designed for students in grades 3 and 4.

This workshop is an hour and 15 minutes in length and limited to 28 students

Click here to enroll your class.