Another incredible program I had a chance to experience this summer that might speak more to young Canadians is the University of Toronto's Youth Summer Program. This camp offers 4 weeklong sessions to students in grade 10 or 11 during the summertime with subjects revolving around the medical field. Every week, the program changes subject in order to represent this vast field of study as well as it can.
I experienced YSP during the week when the Human Physiology conference was being offered, and that being one of my favourite subjects, I had a blast.
I stayed with other students in the New College residents at the university, right in downtown Toronto. During the day, we would listen to fascinating lectures presented by nationally recognized physicians and professionals on every aspect of human physiology, each day covering one system of the body. These hosts were quite patient, explaining intricate concepts in a very basic manner.
After a morning of lectures, we would go to Medical Sciences building where we would test what we learned through incredibly interactive workshops. Here, we were put in groups of roughly 20 students from all around the world that we would do the experiments with. Some neat things I got to do was determine my blood type, do blood smears, study optics by testing lenses that simulated how the human eye worked, studying sound with tuning forks, test our cardiovascular systems with elliptical machines.. I could go on and on! One experiment that blew my mind was something we did when we studied the nervous system. The head of YSP, Dr. Perumalla, came in with an electrical current and excited a subcutaneous nerve under the skin of his elbow. It turned into a nervous signal that made his finger twitch, and depending on the frequency of the voltage, it would twitch faster or slower.
After an afternoon of hands-on learning, we would usually go back to the New College where an exciting social event or a trip to somewhere around Toronto awaited us. The counsellors that would host these activities were always there to chat with you, get to know you, and I shared a lot of great moments with them.
The students at YSP themselves were exceptional!! Lots of them are overachievers: for example, some have written papers in scientific journals like CYSJ. Most of them were from the Greater Toronto Area and a couple were from other parts of Canada, but another impressive amount of students were from faraway countries. It was incredible getting to learn about their cultures and lives. Also, being from Montreal, I learned a lot about the city of Toronto.
There are a few differences in the YSP and the NSLC, but both experiences are equally worth it, in my opinion. As a Canadian, I could definitely relate more to the dorm and college experience I got at the University of Toronto. However, I appreciated the leadership aspect of the NSLC that YSP didn't have. In terms of learning, both camps offered a very thorough curriculum that I enjoyed very much. The touring experiences were roughly the same as well. If you are a student that is interested in studying science in Canada, and you just want to learn more about medical sciences, the Youth Summer Program is a great opportunity for you.