More than 200 high school students participated in an exciting adventure to learn more about living on Mars, and in the process learn about York’s biophysics and astrophysics programs.
A total of 221 physics students and 58 teachers from across southern Ontario attended the annual Physics & Astronomy High School Evening recently, which was held at the Cineplex Colossus theatre in Vaughan. Following a light dinner, guests were treated to a screening of the film The Martian followed by a discussion with experts in biophysics and astrophysics from York.
The event was made possible through the generosity of eminent York University Professor Emeritus Allan Carswell, founder of leading laser-ranging company Optech and co-investigator with the Phoenix Mars Lander – the first probe to see snow falling on Mars.
Carswell introduced the film, which gave students the opportunity to explore the idea of what might happen if one were to be stranded on Mars and had to find a way to survive on a lifeless planet. The film’s main character Mark Watney, played by Matt Damon, was forced to find ways to create water and grow food on Mars, which left the physics students eager to continue the adventure with inquiries to York U experts.
Following the film, students had the opportunity to speak with leading scientists from York, including Carswell, biophysicist Chris Bergevin and astronomer Paul Delaney, who fielded a flood of questions from students about the science behind the movie.
The students’ passion and eagerness to learn about space science was undeniable, as astronomer Marshall McCall, who hosted the event, had to cut off questioning, lamenting that this “extra-fun” school day had to come to a close.
Carswell summed up the evening with the following remarks: “It was a great pleasure for me to be joined in a ‘Martian adventure’ by such a large group of young space enthusiasts. I venture to say that in the audience, there were a number of Canada’s future space pioneers.”