National science tour heads to Port Coquitlam school

Hands-on display will offer School District 43 students insights into physics and the latest theories about the universe

Two years ago, Terry Fox secondary physics teacher Edward Csuka got to rub shoulders with leading Canadian theoretical physicists. Now, he wants his students and the community to do the same.

Csuka, an alumni of the Einstein Plus summer workshop put on by the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, has been asked by the Canadian scientific research centre to host the Power of Ideas Tour to mark Canada's 150th birthday.

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The tour will feature hands-on workshops on astronomy, particle physics and theories of time and space. It will also give people a chance to make their own experiments in a maker space with 3D printers and other equipment.

Although the Power of Ideas tour doesn't arrive in Port Coquitlam until February, Csuka and his fellow science teachers are already working on logistics.

"We're one of only 79 schools in the country to get this tour, it's a real honour," he said.

When he was at the Perimeter Institute, an all-expenses paid intensive summer workshop attended by 40 physics teachers from around the world, Csuka got share ideas with other physicists.

And he expects the Power of Ideas tour will offer similar opportunities for young people to share their ideas and gain new knowledge, adding, "Fox has always been known as an athletic school, now it might also be known for science."
In fact, the study of physics has become a popular class at Fox, with the number of students taking the course doubling in recent years, Csuka said.

He thinks that the popularization of theoretical physics by scientists such as Stephen Hawking — who has an office at the Perimeter Institute — and the TV sitcom The Big Bang Theory may be behind the surge in public interest.

Physics is also behind virtually every piece of technology used today, and Csuka suspects more young people are taking an interest because they want to be the next big inventor, such as Canadian Mike Lazaridis, founder of BlackBerry, who helped start the Perimeter Institute in Waterloo with a $100-million personal contribution.

Csuka credits the organization for helping him make his teaching more relevant to students and he hopes the February tour stop will inspire others to experiment and create.

• The Power of Ideas Tour is staffed with people knowledgeable in the field of physics. It will be open to Fox students for two days, with a public open house Thursday, Feb. 2 starting at 4 p.m.

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