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ISSYP

ISSYP is an exciting and challenging two-week online program for Canadian and international high school students with a keen interest in theoretical physics who intend to pursue physics at the university level. Operated by Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, ISSYP is now in its 19th year and includes over 850 alumni in 60 countries.

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Program description

Over two weeks of online activity, the program super-charges potential "Einsteins" and "Curies" with:

  • Mini-courses – These short sessions provide a sound conceptual introduction to the profound and revolutionary ideas at the foundations of modern physics, including topics like quantum mechanics, special relativity, cosmology, general relativity, and black holes. They will include:
    • Independent work conducted before scheduled live sessions – mandatory preparation will include background reading, sample problems, and viewing of recorded lectures.
    • Interactive online sessions – scheduled live sessions will include instructor-led content, lots of time for your questions, and group work in breakout rooms.
    • Hands-on tasks – complete simple experiments from home at the same time as your fellow participants.
  • Keynote sessions – Perimeter Institute researchers will discuss their work, providing a window into the deep mysteries facing 21st century theoretical physicists, with lots of time for your questions.
  • Career insight – ISSYP alumni and researchers at different career points will answer your questions about university life, research careers, and “Life as a Physicist”. The questions for these Q&A sessions will come from you!
  • Connection to like-minded peers – Past participants indicate that meeting other future theoretical physicists is a valuable part of ISSYP. We’ll take breaks from the scientific content to get to know each other and build relationships that last beyond the program dates. 

  • December 1, 2020 - Applications open
  • March 31, 2021 - Application deadline is 11:59 PM ET
  • May 10, 2021 - Selected students will receive email invitations to participate 
  • July 19-30, 2021 - Online program in session

Students are welcome to apply if they meet all of the following criteria:

  • They have a passion for and strong ability in physics and mathematics as reflected in high school course grades and extracurricular activities; and
  • They intend to pursue studies in physics at the university level in the future; and
  • At the time of application, they are in the final two years of secondary school (for Canadian students, this means Grade 11 or 12 or first year CEGEP); and
  • At the time of ISSYP, they will be 16-18 years of age; and
  • They are fluent at speaking, reading, and writing in English. The entire program is conducted in English.

Age and Grade Level Exceptions:

  • Students who are in Grade 10 at the time of application, or who will be younger than 16 years of age on July 1, 2021 may still apply and will be considered; however, they should use part of their essay to clearly indicate why they are applying for ISSYP 2021 instead of waiting to apply in future years.
  • Students who will be 19 years of age at the time of ISSYP but meet all other criteria in the section above may apply and will be considered.
  • Students who completed high school in 2020 and are currently taking an unplanned gap year due to the pandemic are eligible to apply.
  • Students who have begun or will begin full-time university or college courses before July 2021 are not eligible and will not be considered.

International Applicants:

  • Students around the world who meet the eligibility criteria are welcome to apply. 
  • Students outside of the Eastern Time Zone should expect that the daily schedule (approx. 10am-4pm ET) may not match their usual daily routine of meals or waking and sleeping times. A detailed schedule will be provided in acceptance packages.
  • It is highly recommended that prospective applicants consider the time difference between Waterloo and their community before applying. 

For ISSYP 2021 the program fee is $250 (CAD) payable upon acceptance into the program. Students will receive a small package of supplies at their home address before the program begins. No additional material or equipment fees are anticipated, but students may need to gather some common household items for hands-on activities. There is no application fee.

Financial Aid: Funding is available to help offset the program cost for students with financial need. Information regarding this funding will be made available as requested by students accepted into the ISSYP program.

There is no application fee. The entire application package will be completed online and includes 7 tasks:

  1. Personal Information Form
  2. Extracurricular Activities and Essay
  3. Teacher Assessment (Confidential)
  4. Reference Letter (Confidential Option)
  5. Upload Transcript/Report Card
  6. Applicant Consent Form
  7. Parent/Guardian Consent Form

 

FAQs

Below is a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). Please be sure to review all available information before reaching out to the ISSYP team with your question.

Program

A detailed schedule will be provided in the acceptance package sent to successful applicants. Students should expect to:

  • Fully participate in mandatory, 90-minute online sessions twice per weekday (3 hours total per weekday)
  • Independently spend a minimum of 1 hour on required preparation per weekday
  • Consider spending an additional 1 hour on optional preparation/problems from a selection of topics per weekday
  • Spend 2-3 hours on independent work during the weekend

The program is a full-time commitment and students should not attempt to complete another online or in-person program while participating in ISSYP.

Topics include quantum mechanics, special relativity, cosmology, general relativity, and black holes. Additional topics may be added or covered in keynote presentations.

  • Students must actively participate in all scheduled activity, including team-building activities, and must complete the required preparation work to continue in the program and earn their ISSYP certificate.
  • Students are required to have a dedicated device (minimum laptop or tablet screen-size) and a strong, reliable internet connection during all online sessions.
  • Students must have a working webcam and microphone and webcams must be turned on throughout the online sessions to build the class atmosphere.
  • Students are expected to give their full attention during scheduled online sessions. If there is another program running during ISSYP’s scheduled activity, you must choose between the programs – do not attempt to virtually ‘attend’ two simultaneous programs.
  • ISSYP is a collaborative, not competitive, experience. All students must bring their best effort, an open and questioning mind, and a readiness to support other learners to this program.
  • There are no tests, exams, or formal presentations during the program.

There is no application fee.

Program Fee: For ISSYP 2021 the program fee is $250 (CAD) payable upon acceptance into the program. Students will receive a small package of supplies at their home address before the program begins. No additional material or equipment fees are anticipated, but students may need to assemble some common household items for hands-on activities.

Financial Aid: Funding is available to help offset the program cost for students with financial need. Information regarding this funding will be made available as requested by students accepted into the ISSYP program.

Students will interact with Perimeter scientists in the following ways:

  • Keynote presentations given by PI physicists on their specific fields of research. Presentations go far beyond anything available in popular treatments or textbooks and provide deep insight into what lies at the forefront of our understanding of the physical world.
  • Informal 'speed-mentoring' forum to discuss life as a physicist
  • Informal evening review sessions with researchers

The program will accept 30-40 students each year - with 50% from Canada and 50% from around the world. Students who are not accepted are encouraged to apply again the following year if they are still eligible.

Eligibility

This is an international program and there are many variations in curricula and grade levels around the world. For this reason, exceptions to the recommended grade level requirements are permitted and will be considered. 

  • Students who are in Grade 10 at the time of application, or who will be younger than 16 years of age during the program may still apply and will be considered; however, they should use part of their essay to clearly indicate why they are applying for ISSYP 2021 instead of waiting to apply in future years.
  • Students who will be 19 years of age at the time of ISSYP but meet all other eligibility criteria may apply and will be considered.
  • Students who completed high school in 2020 and are currently taking an unplanned gap year due to the pandemic are eligible to apply.
  • Students who have begun or will begin full-time university or college courses before July 2021 are not eligible and will not be considered.

There are no specific grades required to apply to the ISSYP program, however there must be evidence of a strong academic background in physics and math. Acceptance is based on the strength of the applicant's overall application package.

Applicants should:

  • demonstrate keen interest and passion in the areas of theoretical physics and mathematics
  • be well-rounded individuals with extensive life experience particularly in the areas of theoretical physics and mathematics
  • intend to pursue physics at the university level
  • follow the submission guidelines carefully
  • speak, write, and read English fluently

Yes. Please email ISSYP ([email protected]) for modifications to the application package.

Students around the world who meet the eligibility criteria are welcome to apply. Students outside of the Eastern Time Zone should expect that the daily schedule (approx. 10am-4pm ET) may not match their usual daily routine of meals or waking and sleeping times. A detailed schedule will be provided in acceptance packages. It is highly recommended that prospective applicants consider the time difference between Waterloo and their community before applying.

Application process

Applications are now open. The application package will be completed online. You must complete the application, ensure all confidential components are provided, then review and submit your application before Wednesday, March 31 at 11:59 PM ET. The application period opens on December 1, 2020, providing ample time to prepare documents. Late or incomplete applications will not be considered.

No – all successful applicants will be notified at the same time.

Due to the volume of applications received, once you submit your application it is considered final. You will not be able to modify it or send new or additional information. If an applicant submits multiple applications using different email addresses, only the first application submitted will be reviewed.

You are responsible for reviewing eligibility criteria and for submitting a complete application. If you submit an ineligible or incomplete application, or you forget to review and submit your application, you will not be considered for ISSYP 2021 nor will you be notified that your application will not be reviewed.

There is no application fee. The entire application package will be completed online and includes 7 tasks. In the application interface, you will see a list of your tasks, specific instructions for each task, and the progress you have made on each. You will be able to save your progress and return to edit your application before completing your final review and submitting it. You will also be able to check whether or not your teacher and/or referee have submitted their components. Once you have marked each task as complete, you will be able to “Review and Submit” your final application.

The 7 tasks are:

  1. Personal Information Form
  2. Extracurricular Activities and Essay
  3. Teacher Assessment (Confidential
  4. Reference Letter (Confidential Option)
  5. Upload Transcript/Report Card>
  6. Applicant Statement of Honesty
  7. Parent/Guardian Consent Form

Yes. Applicants to ISSYP 2021 should be fluent in English, but we understand that not all teachers, referees, and schools provide documentation in English.

For confidential components completed by your teacher or referee, ISSYP 2021 will arrange translation when the items are submitted online. It is important to note, however, that all instructions sent to your teacher or referee will be in English.

For non-confidential components, such as your reference letter or transcript, you may include your own translation in the same file as the original document. For example, you can submit a PDF in which the first page(s) is your referee's letter as written in the original language by the referee, and the following page(s) show your own translation. Since you can only upload one file, you must combine the original letter and your translation into a single file. Certified translations are not required; translations will be verified by ISSYP administration as needed.

All other components, including applicant essays, must be written in English.

You will need supporting documents from two different people.

  • The Teacher Assessment is to be completed by a teacher, principal or guidance counsellor and includes an information form, written assessment, and ranking assessment.
  • The Reference Letter is to be provided by a referee – this could be a different teacher, mentor, coach, employer, science club administrator, etc. who has known you for at least one year and is not related to you. This component cannot be completed by the same teacher who completed the Teacher Assessment.

You can change your teacher and/or referee if:

  • The teacher and/or referee has not yet submitted their assessment or reference letter; and
  • The application period has not closed; and
  • You have not submitted your final application.

If all of the above apply, you can log back into your account and enter a new teacher/referee name and email address. Once you have submitted your application and/or the application period has closed, no changes can be made.

When you open the related task in the application tool, you will be able to see whether your teacher has responded. If they have, the “MARK AS COMPLETE” button will be enabled. For confidential components, you will be able to see confirmation that they have been received, but you will not be able to view the confidential files.

The email account you use when you create your application should receive a notification email when components are submitted by your teacher and/or referee; however your email or privacy settings may block this message. We recommend that you stay in touch with your teacher and/or referee - do not wait until after the application deadline has passed to check whether or not items have been submitted.

Late or incomplete applications will not be considered. The application period opened on December 1, 2020 which provided ample time to prepare documents. Please see "How do I change the teacher or referee that I entered in my application?" above if you need to change your teacher or referee.

Acceptance Process

It is not possible to defer program acceptance. If a student declines in the year they are accepted, they will need to apply again the following year. Acceptance in one year does not guarantee acceptance in the following year.

Students who are waitlisted will be notified at the same time as successful applicants are notified.

Contact information

For more information, please review the frequently asked questions (FAQs) above. If your question is not answered, please contact: [email protected].