Grade 9-10 Helix Courses

Below you will find Grade 9-10 Helix courses offered for Summer 2017. Please go to Apply to Helix for more information on how to apply.

Courses are organized into thematic streams, allowing participants to focus on one area of inquiry for all four weeks. Students wishing a broader exposure to topics are free to pick different courses from any stream across the four weeks. These courses are designed for students who have completed Grade 9 or 10. There are no prerequisites for any course.

Date HUMAN BIOLOGY STREAM EARTH AND SPACE SCIENCE STREAM MINI MED SCHOOL STREAM
July 10-14 Bioinformatics: From Sequence to Function Field Ecology and Conservation – FULL Current Research in Neurodevelopmental Disorders – FULL
July 17-21 Physiology and Physical Function Global Impact of Climate Change Medical Pharmacology – FULL
July 24-28 Human Anatomy – FULL Planetary Formation: The Search for Life
Taught by Professor Paul Delaney
Human Anatomy – FULL
July 31-Aug 4 Current Research in Neurodevelopmental Disorders Field Ecology and Conservation – FULL Pharmaceutical Chemistry – FULL

HUMAN BIOLOGY STREAM

Week 1 (July 10 to 14): Bioinformatics: From Sequence to Function

Description: From the observations of Mendel, to the sequencing of the human genome, the field of genetic research is expanding at an amazing rate. Bioinformatics in particular, which is an interdisciplinary field that incorporates biology, computer science, and statistics, has grown immensely over the past number of years, crediting to its ability to rapidly identify, connect, and decipher the complex world of cell signal processing. During this course, students will learn about the underlying theories of genetic research as well as how they apply to diseases and current world issues. Students will be given hands on experience in using bioinformatics tools, such as the NCBI Entrez and NCBI Blast engine, to conduct research on genes of interest.

Instructors: Denis Adigamov and Ashby Kissoondoyal

Week 2 (July 17 to 21): Physiology and Physical Function

Description: Understanding the multiple factors affecting the geriatric community is of great importance, especially with the rapidly aging population. This course will examine, from an interdisciplinary perspective, fundamental issues associated with aging and the complex interaction of physical issues that influence the health and well-being of older adults. Students will have the opportunity to engage with our community partner the Toronto Council on Aging, to develop an action plan to support their pilot project via evaluation of age-friendly features of a specific North York neighbourhood.

Instructor: Thrmiga Sathiyamoorthy

Week 3 (July 24 to 28): Human Anatomy

Description: This course is designed to provide an introduction to the fascinating biological systems of the human body. Through an interactive classroom and laboratory environment, students will learn about the functions and anatomy of major body systems including the nervous, skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive system. Hands-on experience will be provided through dissection of vital organs, such as the brain and heart. Students will also learn the basics of scientific methodology by designing and conducting an experiment, as well as interpreting findings. Working both individually and also as a team, students will complete engaging experiments and have the opportunity to present their in-class assignments in a supportive setting. Students will gain valuable research skills on how to effectively conduct literature searches through PubMed; the main database for biomedical research articles that is used internationally. Students will also take part in a field trip to a research laboratory at York University where they will observe and participate in novel research. We will conclude the course with the exploration of human diseases and disorders. Overall, this course aims to provide a broad understanding on human biological systems and to inspire students to further their curiosity on the science of human health.

Instructor: Christine Wong

Week 4 (July 31 to August 4): Current Research in Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Description: This course will provide background information on neuroscience topics such as early development of the nervous system, and functions of different brain regions, and cell types. Knowledge of these principles will aid in understanding how abnormalities in the brain can lead to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, and schizophrenia. Furthermore, the known causes (genetic and environmental) along with the underlying molecular changes in the brain, behavioural symptoms, and treatment options that are available will be discussed for the various neurodevelopmental disorders. There will be discussion on case studies and current ongoing research to give students an understanding of what is currently known, and the many questions that remain to be answered in future research. Students will also have an opportunity to apply this knowledge in the lab by doing a hands-on experiment, in which they will test the expression of a gene using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and visualise using gel electrophoresis. Overall, this course aims to provide a holistic understanding of the brain and its pathology, and introduce students to the world of scientific research.

Instructor: Ravneet Bhogal

EARTH AND SPACE SCIENCE STREAM

Week 1 (July 10 to 14): Field Ecology and Conservation

Description: Nature is all around us, and we as humans rely on this heavily—for our drinking water, our food, and even for our livelihood. Being able to examine, critically analyze, and interpret our natural environment is an important skill to foster in growing scientists, especially with human impacts rapidly changing the Earth i.e. climate change, land-use change, etc. Through hands-on field experiments in the woodlots, fields and ponds of York, students will learn how to record data in their own personal field notebooks, identify bird calls, catch microscopic aquatic insects, and apply these skills in the real world. . The objective of this course is to encourage students to think like ecologists. By utilizing popular techniques, such as bird mist-netting, aquatic insect sampling, and bug netting, we want to develop the minds of students who have a keen interest in studying the natural environment.

Instructor: Samantha Stefanoff

Week 2 (July 17 to 21): Global Impact of Climate Change

Description: Our atmosphere is changing. While the air is about 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen, and 0.9% argon, human activities have released billions of tonnes of different chemicals into the air to fill up the remaining 0.1%. And yet that 0.1% has had a profound effect on the future of our planet and our societies within it. This course will feature hands-on atmospheric chemistry and atomic physics experiments investigating the fundamental science behind why such tiny traces of gases have a powerful global impact on human health and livelihood. Students will learn about the elaborate chemistry and physics that happen in the skies, including ozone in the stratosphere, sulfuric acid in the rain, methane in our livestock, carbon dioxide between the air and oceans and more.Students will learn how to access and analyze data available through world-wide environmental monitoring programs in order to study real-world trends.

Instructor: Sabour Baray

Week 3 (July 24 to 28): Planetary Formation: The Search for Life

Description: Taught by Professor Paul Delaney, this course will explore the realm of planetary formation using our Solar System as a base model. Understanding the development of the various elements comprising the Solar System will allow for the determination of how other planetary systems can form and in turn the type of exoplanets that are known to exist. The various exoplanetary search techniques will be analysed. With this understanding of the “real estate” that exists the search for life can be discussed and an introduction to astrobiology can be given. Students will also get the chance to observe celestial objects using the solar telescopes at the York University Observatory.

Instructor: Professor Paul Delaney

Week 4 (July 31 to August 4): Field Ecology and Conservation

Description: Nature is all around us, and we as humans rely on this heavily—for our drinking water, our food, and even for our livelihood. Being able to examine, critically analyze, and interpret our natural environment is an important skill to foster in growing scientists, especially with human impacts rapidly changing the Earth i.e. climate change, land-use change, etc. Through hands-on field experiments in the woodlots, fields and ponds of York, students will learn how to record data in their own personal field notebooks, identify bird calls, catch microscopic aquatic insects, and apply these skills in the real world. . The objective of this course is to encourage students to think like ecologists. By utilizing popular techniques, such as bird mist-netting, aquatic insect sampling, and bug netting, we want to develop the minds of students who have a keen interest in studying the natural environment.

Instructor: Samantha Stefanoff

MINI MED SCHOOL STREAM

Week 1 (July 10 to 14): Current Research in Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Description: This course will provide background information on neuroscience topics such as early development of the nervous system, and functions of different brain regions, and cell types. Knowledge of these principles will aid in understanding how abnormalities in the brain can lead to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, fetal alcohol syndrome, and schizophrenia. Furthermore, the known causes (genetic and environmental) along with the underlying molecular changes in the brain, behavioural symptoms, and treatment options that are available will be discussed for the various neurodevelopmental disorders. There will be discussion on case studies and current ongoing research to give students an understanding of what is currently known, and the many questions that remain to be answered in future research. Students will also have an opportunity to apply this knowledge in the lab by doing a hands-on experiment, in which they will test the expression of a gene using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), and visualise using gel electrophoresis. Overall, this course aims to provide a holistic understanding of the brain and its pathology, and introduce students to the world of scientific research.

Instructor: Ravneet Bhogal

Week 2 (July 17 to 21): Medical Pharmacology

Description: Medicine has the ability to stop, cure, or prevent diseases and illnesses. The usage of medication is an everyday occurrence for most people, with millions of tablets and syrups being consumed by humans on a daily basis to treat a variety of health disorders. The science behind how medications function and how are they are designed however, is not as commonly understood. Have you ever wondered about what bioactive substances are used in the treatment of human diseases? What happens to medication once it enters our body? What is the mechanism of action of most over the counter drugs? These are the types of questions that will be answered in this course. Students will get an opportunity to get hands-on experience on screening of agents used for therapeutics, antibiotic resistance and its efficacy, drug synthesis and its quantification, and preparation of medicated drugs. Furthermore, students will learn drug calculations, routes of drug administration and absorption, pharmacokinetics, and in-vivo and in-vitro models for drug studies. Overall, this course will provide students insight into principles and techniques used in drug preparation, administration and absorption in the human body to cure diseases.

Instructor: Uzma Nadeem

Week 3 (July 24 to 28): Human Anatomy

Description: This course is designed to provide an introduction to the fascinating biological systems of the human body. Through an interactive classroom and laboratory environment, students will learn about the functions and anatomy of major body systems including the nervous, skeletal, muscular, cardiovascular, respiratory, and digestive system. Hands-on experience will be provided through dissection of vital organs, such as the brain and heart. Students will also learn the basics of scientific methodology by designing and conducting an experiment, as well as interpreting findings. Working both individually and also as a team, students will complete engaging experiments and have the opportunity to present their in-class assignments in a supportive setting. Students will gain valuable research skills on how to effectively conduct literature searches through PubMed; the main database for biomedical research articles that is used internationally. Students will also take part in a field trip to a research laboratory at York University where they will observe and participate in novel research. We will conclude the course with the exploration of human diseases and disorders. Overall, this course aims to provide a broad understanding on human biological systems and to inspire students to further their curiosity on the science of human health.

Instructor: Christine Wong

Week 4 (July 31 to August 4): Pharmaceutical Chemistry

Description: Understanding how biological systems function is fundamental to developing novel treatments against viruses, diseases, and cancer. To study functions of a target protein in a laboratory setting, the protein must first be extracted and purified from the organism of interest. Pharmaceutical Chemistry is an intensive week-long course that provides a comprehensive overview of a variety of techniques used in the field of biochemistry. Students can expect to work with both wildtype and mutant strains of the Lupus auto-antigen protein. This protein has implications in viral replication and cancer progression. Students will first be introduced to scientific methods and will practice designing and conducting experiments in which they will extract the protein from E.coli based vectors. Students will learn how to express and purify recombinant protein from bacteria using affinity chromatography (IMAC). The small scale purification performed in this lab is a real world example of the large scale purification performed in the pharmaceutical industry. Purified protein will then be quantified and analyzed using efficient quantitative techniques used in modern day laboratories.

Instructor: Kunal Bhatt