Young scholars visit UTM for annual "Bring Our Children to Work Day'

Ulrich Krull shows a crowd of elementary students a piece of meteorite
Friday, April 27, 2018 - 4:31pm
Blake Eligh

UTM welcomed 36 elementary school students in grades four through seven for the annual “Bring Our Children to Work Day” on April 26. This is the 25th year for the U of T event, which features tours, demonstrations and hands-on fun for nearly 500 students across all three campuses.

Principal Ulrich Krull opened the day at UTM with a tour across the universe. Krull gave the young visitors a crash course in astronomy and the wonders of space with a talk that featured astronomical photographs taken from his cottage and chance to hold pieces of Mars, meteorites and other intergalactic treasures from Krull’s personal collection.

Biologist and assistant professor, teaching stream Sanja Hinić-Frlog and her team of student assistants led the students on a campus bird walk. Armed with binoculars and field records, the fledgling birders watched and listened. They recorded 11 different birds common to the campus, including a red-tailed hawk, Downey woodpeckers and the tiny ruby-crowned kinglet.

Staff from UTM’s Department of Physical Education, Athletics & Recreation led participants in rousing games of gaga ball and Kin-Ball, and stretched on yoga mats. “RAWCy,” the UTM Eagle mascot, joined in the fun.

After a lunch with parents and a session on cyber bullying with Campus Police special constables Sukhmani Billing and Ivan Ampuero, students toured Theatre Erindale’s props and costume departments with theatre manager Jim Smagata, and took a lesson in theatrical swashbuckling from production manager Peter Ubanek at the MiST Theatre.

In the physics lab, participants had a short lesson on basic physics before trying out a thermal camera, a ping-pong-ball-shooting vacuum cannon, and observing how laser light passes through a fibre optics tube. One especially popular exhibit was a keyboard connected to a Tesla coil—students played snippets of music to produce an electric current and synthesized tunes. Physics lab coordinator Dan Reynolds demonstrated the properties of air pressure by shooting glycerine-based fog rings from a DIY-vortex gun made from a plastic garbage can. Physics laboratory supervisor Gideon Humphrey, of the Department of Chemical & Physical Sciences, whirled students around on a wooden platform as they attempted to pass a basketball back and forth. The exercise demonstrates coriolis force, which can be observed in the way air currents move through the Earth’s atmosphere as the planet rotates.

The day ended with a session led by psychology professors and speech development researchers Elizabeth Johnson, Craig Chambers of the Department of Psychology and Jessamyn Schertz of the Department of Language Studies. Students rotated through stations where they listened in on what babies can hear in the womb, tested out eye-tracking technology used in psychology testing, and learned to spell their names phonetically.

The annual tri-campus event is sponsored by U of T's HR & Equity Office, with additional support from UTM’s Office of the Vice-President & Principal and CAO, and Chartwells.