The Patrick Whippey Award for Science Outreach

Patrick Whippey

The Patrick Whippey Award for Science Outreach is supported by the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Western University and awarded in conjunction with the Ontario Association of Physics Teachers (OAPT) in recognition of our esteemed colleague Prof. Patrick Whippey as a tribute to his devotion to science education and outreach across Ontario and Canada. It is awarded to a teacher in Canada at the high school, college, or undergraduate level who has made a significant impact in science education outside of the classroom, with a focus on physics or astronomy.

Biographical Background

Prof. Whippey is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy at Western, where he taught for 45 years. He is well known for his commitment to and excellence in undergraduate physics teaching, as exemplified by the Edward G. Pleva Award of Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching (2005), the University Student Council’s Award for Excellence in Teaching, and his numerous appearances on the University Student Council Teaching Honour Roll at Western.

Prof. Whippey is also a founding member of the Ontario Association of Physics Teachers, for which he served as Webmaster, Vice-president (2003-2004), and President (2004-2005) and was honoured as a Lifetime Member in 2011.

Prof. Whippey is especially known across Canada in the physics and science education community for his incredible drive and initiative in organizing science outreach events, such as the annual Science & Engineering Fair and Science Olympics in London, Ontario, the Canada Wide Science Fair, the annual Team Canada selection for the Intel  International Science & Engineering Fair, and numerous class visits to campus, to name just a few. The London Science Olympics alone has grown to approximately 1000 participants drawn from across Ontario.

Patrick’s passion for science outreach is an inspiration to many and has impacted thousands of students, teachers, and future scientists and engineers.

Award Recipients

2022: Nina Dolgovykh, Holy Trinity School

Nina_Dolgovykh_245w.jpgI received the news about the Award on my birthday. And it became the most precious and unexpected gift I have ever received.

Professor Whippey has been my hero and a role model for almost 20 years, and to receive the award with his name is deeply meaningful to me. It just happened that I love science and especially physics so much that it was never enough for me to teach it. Coaching students to compete at the Science Olympics, challenging and supporting them to participate in the local to national and international Science Fairs, and organizing and judging various science fairs and other scientific events is my true passion.

I am deeply honoured to receive the Patrick Whippey Award and feel highly motivated to continue my humble contribution to science education and outreach.

2020/2021: B.Q. Orbax (Jason Thomas), University of Guelph

Orbax_Thomas_02a_1060_1063_245w.jpgOrbax is a science communicator, a lecturer, and the production specialist for physics education content in the Department of Physics at the University of Guelph. Over the last 13 years he has worked to make physics education fun and accessible on television, print, social media and through live demo shows.

A fan of Professor Julius Sumner Miller, he has always felt this quote sums up his views on education: 

We do not teach physics nor do we teach students. What we do, if we are successful, is to stir interest in the matter at hand, awaken enthusiasm for it, arouse a curiosity, kindle a feeling, and fire up the imagination.

2019: Padmakala Mohan, Vincent Massey Secondary School

Padmakala_Mohan_03_245w.jpgPadmakala (Padma) is a science outreach champion. She has been involved in the Science Olympiads for 19 years. Padma is not only active in organizing high school science olympiads and contests, but also active in the development and sharing of outreach activities. Padma involves her students in teaching their peers, in mentoring younger students, and in organizing the outreach activities themselves — nurturing our next science ambassadors.


For information on the application process, visit the OAPT webpage