Grade 11-12 Helix Courses

Helix 2018 applications still being accepted. Visit Apply to Helix for more information.

Below you will find the Grade 11-12 Helix courses offered for Summer 2018. 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 11 or 12. There are no prerequisites for any course.

Date BIOMEDICAL SCIENCE STREAM MATH & PHYSICS STREAM BIOTECHNOLOGY STREAM
July 9-13 Biotechnology in Human Health and Disease Artificial Intelligence with Python Biotechnology in Human Health and Disease
July 16-20 Cancer: The Cause and the Cure Biophysics: Neurotransmission Cancer: The Cause and the Cure
July 23-27 Mutations and Reproductive Pathways Artificial Intelligence with Python Mutations and Reproductive Pathways
July 30-Aug 3 Fundamentals of Neuroscience Photons and Force Fields Fundamentals of Neuroscience

BIOMEDICAL STREAM

Week 1 (July 9 to 13): Biotechnology in Human Health and Disease

Description: Biotechnology involves the deliberate manipulation of biological systems to treat diseases, enhance crop production, process waste material, and create new diagnostic tests. The usage of biotechnology techniques and tools are fundamental to many fields of biomedical research, and involves the manufacturing of various drugs for usage in medicine, such as insulin and interferon. This course aims to provide fundamental concepts and practical applications involved in disease prognosis and treatment of human health. Students will get the opportunity to manipulate the genetics of an organism to express a gene of interest and see the resulting effects in cultured cells. Through hands-on laboratory experiments, students will learn about cloning and clone isolation techniques involving bacteria for usage in inoculation. Cell culture techniques, over-expression of proteins in cells, DNA extraction, and DNA purification will also be covered in the context of biomedical and biotechnological research. Overall, this course will provide students insight into biotechnology-based methods used by scientists in the field of human health and medicine.

Instructors: Uzma Nadeem

Week 2 (July 16 to 20): Cancer: The Cause and the Cure

Description: Cancer has the second highest mortality rate among all causes of death worldwide. Statistics show that it affects one fourth of the population every year. This course will be focusing on factors and causes that may promote and induce cancer formation, as well as potential treatments and cures for cancer. Through learning advanced and up to date laboratory techniques, students will be able to understand the physiological changes that occur, on both cellular and molecular levels, during cancer development. Also, students will have a grasp on how to maintain a cultured mammalian cell line(s), and perform some functional assays. These hands-on experiments will be conducted using cancerous and non-cancerous cells. Through current literature and discussions, students will advance their critical thinking and scientific reasoning skills.

Instructors: Mohamed Salem

Week 3 (July 23 to 27): Mutations and Reproductive Pathways

Description: Mutant organisms are used by scientists to study disorders and diseases, molecular pathways and biological processes such as reproduction biology and fertility. In Canada, 1 in 6 couples experience infertility, which is double the infertility rate in the 1980s. This course will explore the methods used to create mutations and mutant organisms as well as the ethical use of such organisms to study reproduction biology and fertility in research. Students will learn about cutting-edge molecular biology techniques that are commonly used in biological research. In addition, students will acquire hands-on research experience by isolating and culturing oocytes and ovarian cells in a laboratory setting. Students will also learn about and perform techniques including DNA extraction, DNA amplification and DNA band visualization, mutation generation in cultured cells and in living organisms and the application of the previously mentioned techniques to studying general biological pathways.

Instructors: Yara Zayed

Week 4 (July 30 to August 3): Fundamentals of Neuroscience

Description: This course is designed to introduce students to the field of neuroscience and the future of neuroscience research, and is intended to provide an understanding of the most essential principles of neuroscience. The goal of this course is to give a strong foundational understanding of the human brain and the techniques utilized in recent research. Lectures and activities will cover neuroanatomy and the function of major brain regions, with a focus on the sensory and motor systems that are closely related to our daily activities. Students will also get the chance to visit the Neuroimaging Centre at York University, which is equipped with a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine. MRI is a medical imaging technique which allows for the imaging of the brain, amongst other organs, and is a crucial investigative tool for medical diagnostics and neuroscience research. Students will also be able to experience the MRI process in the scanner as well as learn the basic MRI theory on-site.

Instructor: Bianca Baltaretu

MATH & PHYSICS STREAM

Week 1 (July 9 to 13): Artificial Intelligence with Python

Description: This course aims to introduce the basic programming skills of Python, a powerful programming language in computational mathematics, and the basic concepts of machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence. Python is a high-level programming language for general-purpose programming. It stresses code readability and a syntax that allows people to express concepts in fewer lines of code. This strength makes Python a more human-readable programming language for clear programming on both small and large scales, which is typically good for Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. This course will cover the basic knowledge and coding skills of Python, and the basic concepts and example codes of implementing machine learning in Python. Students are expected to have finished Grade 10 mathematics and to have basic understanding of functions.

Instructor: Stanley Liang

Week 2 (July 16 to 20): Biophysics: Neurotransmission

Description: In this course, students will learn about the most exciting cell in the body — neurons — from both a biology and physics standpoint, all culminating together in our final lab where we dissect a heart. We will explore the physics behind neurological impulses. What makes an impulse travel along a neuron? How does a simple thought, originating in the brain, transform and make way to muscles for body movement? Students will build up an understanding of the underlying biology of a neuron and then get to look at the physics through an advanced mathematical model that is often used as a reference point within research labs today. Students will be able to trace the path of neural impulses throughout the body, and understand why the body behaves the way it does. Learn how to model neural impulses using MATLAB coding software on computers, as well as visualize neurological impulses using a real heart. Students will have an opportunity to understand the effects of homeostasis through this model and what happens when deviations occur — in addition to the importance of electrical signals running through the body. Both physical and biological models will be constructed to better understand the electrical and chemical highways that govern animal movement, thoughts, emotions and feelings.

Instructor: Elisa De Luca and Anthony Salerno

Week 3 (July 23 to 27): Artificial Intelligence with Python

Description: This course aims to introduce the basic programming skills of Python, a powerful programming language in computational mathematics, and the basic concepts of machine learning, a type of artificial intelligence. Python is a high-level programming language for general-purpose programming. It stresses code readability and a syntax that allows people to express concepts in fewer lines of code. This strength makes Python a more human-readable programming language for clear programming on both small and large scales, which is typically good for Big Data and Artificial Intelligence. This course will cover the basic knowledge and coding skills of Python, and the basic concepts and example codes of implementing machine learning in Python. Students are expected to have finished Grade 10 mathematics and to have basic understanding of functions.

Instructor: Stanley Liang

Week 4 (July 30 to August 3): Photons and Force Fields

Description: Photons and Force Fields will be an introduction to theoretical physics with a significant emphasis on particle physics. Discussions will cover a broad range of topics, beginning with the fundamental mathematics required to discuss Quantum Mechanics and the understanding of how art and science come together in the form of Feynman Diagrams. We will then attempt to understand the force carriers in the Standard Model through discussions of qualitative Quantum Field Theory using special relativity. Special emphasis will be placed on experiments currently running at CERN and the most recent breakthroughs of the physical world. Specifically, students will learn about the four fundamental forces through Quantum Electrodynamics (electrostatic and weak), Quantum Chromodynamics (strong), and the mystery of the Higgs Boson (gravity).

Instructor: Anthony Salerno

BIOTECHNOLOGY STREAM

Week 1 (July 9 to 13): Biotechnology in Human Health and Disease

Description: Biotechnology involves the deliberate manipulation of biological systems to treat diseases, enhance crop production, process waste material, and create new diagnostic tests. The usage of biotechnology techniques and tools are fundamental to many fields of biomedical research, and involves the manufacturing of various drugs for usage in medicine, such as insulin and interferon. This course aims to provide fundamental concepts and practical applications involved in disease prognosis and treatment of human health. Students will get the opportunity to manipulate the genetics of an organism to express a gene of interest and see the resulting effects in cultured cells. Through hands-on laboratory experiments, students will learn about cloning and clone isolation techniques involving bacteria for usage in inoculation. Cell culture techniques, over-expression of proteins in cells, DNA extraction, and DNA purification will also be covered in the context of biomedical and biotechnological research. Overall, this course will provide students insight into biotechnology-based methods used by scientists in the field of human health and medicine.

Instructor: Uzma Nadeem

Week 2 (July 16 to 20): Cancer: The Cause and the Cure

Description: Cancer has the second highest mortality rate among all causes of death worldwide. Statistics show that it affects one fourth of the population every year. This course will be focusing on factors and causes that may promote and induce cancer formation, as well as potential treatments and cures for cancer. Through learning advanced and up to date laboratory techniques, students will be able to understand the physiological changes that occur, on both cellular and molecular levels, during cancer development. Also, students will have a grasp on how to maintain a cultured mammalian cell line(s), and perform some functional assays. These hands-on experiments will be conducted using cancerous and non-cancerous cells. Through current literature and discussions, students will advance their critical thinking and scientific reasoning skills.

Instructors: Mohamed Salem

 

Week 3 (July 23 to 27): Mutations and Reproductive Pathways

Description: Mutant organisms are used by scientists to study disorders and diseases, molecular pathways and biological processes such as reproduction biology and fertility. In Canada, 1 in 6 couples experience infertility, which is double the infertility rate in the 1980s. This course will explore the methods used to create mutations and mutant organisms as well as the ethical use of such organisms to study reproduction biology and fertility in research. Students will learn about cutting-edge molecular biology techniques that are commonly used in biological research. In addition, students will acquire hands-on research experience by isolating and culturing oocytes and ovarian cells in a laboratory setting. Students will also learn about and perform techniques including DNA extraction, DNA amplification and DNA band visualization, mutation generation in cultured cells and in living organisms and the application of the previously mentioned techniques to studying general biological pathways.

Instructor: Yara Zayed

Week 4 (July 30 to August 3): Fundamentals of Neuroscience

Description: This course is designed to introduce students to the field of neuroscience and the future of neuroscience research, and is intended to provide an understanding of the most essential principles of neuroscience. The goal of this course is to give a strong foundational understanding of the human brain and the techniques utilized in recent research. Lectures and activities will cover neuroanatomy and the function of major brain regions, with a focus on the sensory and motor systems that are closely related to our daily activities. Students will also get the chance to visit the Neuroimaging Centre at York University, which is equipped with a Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machine. MRI is a medical imaging technique which allows for the imaging of the brain, amongst other organs, and is a crucial investigative tool for medical diagnostics and neuroscience research. Students will also be able to experience the MRI process in the scanner as well as learn the basic MRI theory on-site.

Instructor: Bianca Baltaretu