Our workshops

Our Custom Workshops

The following is a sampling of activities we offer. We can also develop custom activities for your group, so don’t hesitate to request an activity based on another topic not listed here.


Fuel Efficiency - Chemistry 30

With an ever growing focus on the emission of greenhouse gases, this lab attempts to investigate alternative fuel sources for the future. Students learn about the causes of greenhouse gases, how they can be mediated, as well as key chemical terms and concepts, such as hydrocarbons, alcohols and specific heat capacity of water.


How Acidic is Chewing Gum? - Chemistry 20

Too often we find ourselves putting items in our mouth without knowing exactly what's in our food. Sure, packaging lists the ingredients, but it doesn't necessarily tell us quantities. In this lab, students use basic titration skills to determine the citric acid content in a variety of chewing gum flavors, thus developing their lab and calculation techniques, as well as an understanding of acid/base theory. Students are also challenged to determine how this type of work is relevant in day-to-day life.


Global Water Experiment - Chemistry 20

In honour of the International Year of Chemistry (IYC 2011) the Chemical Institute of Canada (CIC), has developed the Global Water Experiment. This experiment is targeted towards a large age group, ranging from late elementary to high school. Students will measure the pH of a variety of different water sources, and determine what effects this potentially has on ecosystems. Most importantly, students will be able to share their results with others from around the world on an interactive web interface!


Qualitative Analysis of Ions - Chemistry 20

In this qualitative lab, students will perform a set of experiments to determine the presence of a variety of different ions. Using knowledge based on the periodic table, students will add different reagents to an unknown sample to precipitate and isolate the unknown. Using problem-solving skills and balanced equations, students will be able to deduce which ions were present in which sample. Mystery solved!


Diffusion: Molecular Transport across Membranes - Science 10

This lab will investigate the ability of different molecules to cross a synthetic cell membrane. The students will gain insight into the process of diffusion and the mechanisms involved using a simulated semi-permeable cell membrane (dialysis tubing), glucose and starch. Topics such as active vs. passive transport, osmosis, and concentration will be discussed.


Catalase Activity - Biology 20

Enzymes are biological catalysts capable of speeding up a chemical reaction without themselves being consumed. Optimal enzyme activity occurs under specific conditions and changes in pH, temperature and concentration can all affect activity. Catalase is an enzyme, which is nearly ubiquitous amongst aerobic organisms and functions to prevent the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide within the cell by speeding up the conversion of hydrogen peroxide to water and oxygen. In this 90-minute lab students will test the effect of pH, temperature and enzyme concentration on catalase activity.


Mystery Organic Compound Identification - Biology 20

A mystery needs to be solved! Students receive an unknown food sample and they must identify the correct unknown organic compounds present. Tests for lipids, carbohydrates and proteins will be completed on known samples and again on their unknown sample. We hope to start a discussion of what makes an organic compound and why they are important to us. Students will learn important information about what goes into their food!


Yeast Fermentation - Biology 20

Energy is required by all living organisms to survive and comes in the form of adenosine triphosphate, or ATP. ATP can be produced in a process known as cellular respiration in which glucose, or other sugars, is converted to water and carbon dioxide. In glycolysis, the first step of cellular respiration, glucose will be converted to two molecules of pyruvate generating two ATP. Subsequently, in the presence oxygen pyruvate will enter the TCA cycle and finally the electron transport chain to produce 34-36 molecules of ATP. However under oxygen-limited conditions fermentation can occur in which pyruvate is converted to organic molecules, such as ethanol and CO2. In this two-part experiment students will test a) the effect of glucose concentration and b) the effect of different sugars on the rate of fermentation in yeast. Depending on time constraints one or both parts can be performed followed by preliminary work in writing a scientific report.


Identifying Antibiotic Resistance in Bacteria - Biology 30

Bacteria can develop resistance to antibiotics through gene mutations and then pass on these advantageous mutations to other, potentially more dangerous, pathogens. Often these antibiotic resistance genes are contained on plasmids, small circular pieces of double stranded DNA separate from bacteria's genomic DNA. By isolating this plasmid DNA using a so called mini-prep procedure, the antibiotic resistance patterns between bacterial strains can be analyzed. To do so, first the successful purification of plasmid DNA by mini-prep has to be confirmed by agarose gel electrophoresis, which separates DNA by size and allows for visualization of DNA by staining. In addition, the antibiotic resistance of a bacterial strain can be determined by plating cells on a growth medium containing different antibiotics. Only resistant bacteria will be able to grow in the presence of a certain antibiotic as evident by the appearance of bacterial colonies the next day.


Speed of Sound – Physics 20

Waves are an important part of our everyday lives. Without a good working knowledge of waves we would not have the wireless technology that allows us to browse the internet from a laptop or even talk on your cell phone. Waves allow us to listen to radio, use GPS and even text friends. In this lab, the knowledge of waves will be explored using a resonance tube for a column of air, allowing for the determination of the speed of sound.


Induction and Lenz’s Law – Physics 30

Electricity and magnetism can be found everywhere. They govern and control all of our wondrous electronic devices and have created the great information age. One of the most significant discoveries was that of Induction. Using simple materials, this lab explores the theory of Lenz’s Law and the impact different materials have. Finally, students will explore Induction using an oscilloscope that allows for different voltages.

Middle School activities:

Grade 7 (Interactions and Ecosystems)
Insect Predation
The interactions among species lead to a fine balance of different predators and preys that at first seem to be very complex. In this activity, the students will explore the relationship between different predator species and their potential adaptations to prey through play. They will mimic being insect predators with different ways of collecting food (prey) and they will learn how both prey and predator populations are affected by their competition. Thereby, a seemingly complex system will come to live for the students who directly experience it.

Grade 8 (Cells and Systems)
DNA Bracelets
DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is a molecule that provides instructions for life in cells. But how are such complex instructions “written” into a molecule? In particular, how can this work if DNA itself consists only of four different building blocks (letters)? In this activity, students will learn about the code of life and how the four building blocks of DNA can encode the sequence of a protein with 20 different building blocks. Using this code, the students will apply their knowledge by creating a DNA bracelets where the letters of the alphabet (like the building blocks of proteins) are encoded by beads of only four different colors (like the DNA building blocks).

Grade 8 (Cells and Systems)
DNA Isolation from Banana
The cell nucleus contains the hereditary information of each organisms in the form of DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid. While we can see cells in the microscope, DNA is typically too small to be visible. However, here the students will use simple household chemicals to extract visible amounts of DNA from banana. They will learn about the components of the cell and how to separate these from the DNA. In the end of the activity, each student can preserve the purified DNA on cardboard.

Grade 8 (Freshwater and Saltwater Systems)
Ocean Acidification: Effects of Changes in the Environment
Environmental change poses problems for organisms and ecosystems, both for now and in the future. Here, we explore the effect of the water’s pH on shells of animals to illustrate the global problem of ocean acidification that is one aspect of climate change. Specifically, we will test the exposure of different household chemicals to eggshells, support the students in making careful observations and drawing their own conclusions. Next, we will discuss the reasons for ocean acidification and illustrate this by a simple experiment where the students will breathe carbon dioxide into water and observe the pH change.