Fun Things to do at the McLennan Physical Labs

Photo by aida_dasilva via Flickr

The McLennan Physical Labs at the University of Toronto St. George campus is a place where you can develop a deeper appreciation for the work of scientists and researchers in the field of physics. The Physics Department embraces all students, no matter what field they’re enrolled in, and encourages them to explore the physics community. Despite the old façade of the building and the eyesore layout of the institutional hallways and classrooms, there are newer, comfortable areas throughout the McLennan Physical Labs. Particularly on the upper floors. The Physics Department now has a location to be proud of.

Here are a few reasons to explore the labs someday soon.

1) Time For An Upgrade

The Physics Department knew it needed to improve the learning environment that could facilitate practical teaching, and a comfortable study area for students to collaborate. The previously congested, dimly lit, uninspiring spaces were transformed into something beautiful by Gow Hastings Architects. Known as the Physics Café, this space now features walls that can be written on, Smartboards, interactive technology, connectable tables, and acoustic walls so it doesn’t get too loud.

They were inspired by the properties of physics when making their “wave-like” design decisions. The use of glass walls opens up space, and there is a new circulation in the air quality and flow of navigation. A splash of colour adds to the newly designed collaborative space, transforming its dullness into something eye-catching and enjoyable. Be sure to visit the study area (Physics Café) at McLennan Physical Labs if you have a group project due. Or head over if you want to study independently in a dynamic environment. It is an unexpected gem within an old building! 

2) Come Discover The Universe

Take a free AstroTour hosted by graduate students in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics. You do not need to register for this event. Furthermore, learn about the latest discoveries in astrophysics, the science behind sci-fi as well as the reality of science. If astronomy is not your background, that’s all right too. These events are tailored towards anyone who has a general interest in the field. Therefore, you don’t require a technical understanding to comprehend what they’re teaching.

AstroTours consist of a forty-five-minute presentation on a particular topic of astronomy. And it’s usually hosted by a professional in the field! This is followed by an awesome telescope viewing. So you can glance at the stars through an advanced telescope on the sixteenth floor of the labs. (This is a major highlight of the tour.) Experience the Oculus Rift, the Worldwide Telescope, and other interactive media as you learn about the universe. All of this occurs at the McLennan Physical Labs.

3) Impressive Labs

There are state-of-the-art research labs located on the basement level of the McLennan Physical Labs. This building was established in the 1960s and has been home to notable research in Physics, Astronomy, and Astrophysics. Their goal is to teach students what they know about the universe and the importance of discovering new knowledge. Come and see a physics demonstration in action (where and when permitted), and develop a new appreciation for physics.

4) Check Out Those Views

On the balcony of the fifteenth floor of the building, experience a spectacular view of the city. You will witness the vastness of the University of Toronto campus, and the rest of downtown Toronto. So bring your camera! 

5) Learn About Constellations

Watch the sun (safely), see the stars, and identify constellations at a telescope viewing on the sixteenth floor. While these sessions depend greatly on the weather, you can see the vast universe through this giant telescope like you haven’t seen it before. 

6) Library

Visit the Physics Library on the second floor of the McLennan Physical Labs. While it may not be the most up-to-date study location, this library is quieter than the Physics Café with plenty of space and power outlets. Grab a seat by the window and start working. Also, it is the best place to locate books on (you guessed it) physics.

If you have classes at McLennan, or nearby, then this is a good spot to go. Basically, it’s less crowded and will save you a lot of walking time between buildings. Lastly, the library is a good demonstration of the original aesthetics of the building!

So, have fun exploring the physics labs! If you’re looking for physics courses, check out Easy Physics Courses You Should Take During Your Undergrad at the University of Toronto.

Published on February 28, 2020

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Our student-written campus guides help students who want to get a sense of what life at their new school and city will really be like by avoiding embellishment and focusing on what actual students think.