by Sarah Androsoff, Marketing Services
"I've seen it in James Bond movies and in mattress companies," laughs Continuing Studies at UVic instructor Dr. Skye Goksenin Sen. "Businesses use the word 'quantum' to make their products cooler." There is no doubt that concepts of metaphysics and quantum mechanics are complex for the average person, but Goksenin brings these ideas back to earth. She strives to show that quantum physics is relevant to our everyday lives when correctly understood.
Goksenin received her undergraduate degree in Turkey, a master's degree in Germany and her doctorate in Canada. She has been an instructor at Continuing Studies for three years and loves every minute of it. "It's like family, the staff are amazing and very supportive," she remarks. "I appreciate the accepting and innovative framework." Her background in physics engineering, and PhD in science education and curriculum have given her the tools to share her passion with learners of all ages.
"If there was a magic switch in human perception, I would turn it on so everyone could go beyond their humanly limitations"
Teaching quantum physics at the university level was inspired from the curriculum she designed for kindergarten students, ages three to six. "Kids enter learning without negative preconceptions. They are open to these magical concepts," she explains. Through hands-on activities and games, she successfully taught kindergarten students to understand the concepts of quantum physics. She applies this same approach to teaching our community learners in her course Down the Rabbit Hole — Quantum Physics for Nonphysicists.
The student engagement at Continuing Studies never ceases to amaze Goksenin. Everyone comes from different walks of life and has something different to offer. "Each student’s perception of my classes is like their own bubble. It's fun to interact with everyone's unique bubble." When the pandemic hit, Goksenin had to adapt to online learning. Making the shift from teaching in the classroom to online allowed her to reach well beyond geographic borders and increase her student demographic. "It was enriching to teach curious minds across Canada and the world."
In Goksenin's mind, quantum physics is about the study between nature and our universe. She categorizes quantum physics into two main ideas: small scales and counter intuitive concepts. "Everything is made up of matter, atoms and even smaller particles," she states. "Counter intuitive concepts are realities that sound impossible, like being at a beach and an office simultaneously." She believes people need to step out of their comfort zones and learn quantum physics, even if it's not their career path. "It’s about having an open mind and accepting the existence of unusual realities," she suggests.
"Quantum physics provides brand new ways of understanding the workings of the universe and the world around us"
Goksenin feels that the study of quantum physics helps people form educated opinions and make better decisions in everyday life. It promotes critical and creative thinking that widens our perspectives and strengthens our knowledge processes. "Quantum physics provides brand new ways of understanding the workings of the universe and the world around us," she claims. "There are probabilities, there is no one right single answer. Quantum physics promotes probabilistic ways of thinking," In quantum physics there is always the possibility of change and the discovery of new ideas is boundless.
For Goksenin quantum physics is more than a scientific theory – it is a perspective on how she lives her life that she is eager to share with others. "If there was a magic switch in human perception, I would turn it on so everyone could go beyond their humanly limitations," she says. Whether she is teaching at Continuing Studies or sailing on the ocean in her spare time, Goksenin's magic switch is certainly turned on.
This fall, learn about elementary particles, fundamental forces, the mystery of dark matter and more in Dr. Skye Goksenin Sen's course: Down the Rabbit Hole — Quantum Physics for Nonphysicists.