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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Cathedral outreach: student-led workshops for school curriculum enhancement in non-traditional environments
Author(s): Matthew T. Posner; Alexander Jantzen; Lieke D. van Putten; Andrea Ravagli; Andrei L. Donko; Nathan Soper; Nicholas H. L. Wong; Pearl V. John

Paper Abstract

Universities in the United Kingdom have been driven to work with a larger pool of potential students than just the more traditional student (middle-class white male), in order to tackle the widely-accepted skills-shortage in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), whilst honoring their commitment to fair access to higher education. Student-led outreach programs have contributed significantly to this drive. Two such programs run by postgraduate students at the University of Southampton are the Lightwave Roadshow and Southampton Accelerate!, which focus on photonics and particle physics, respectively. The program ambassadors have developed activities to enhance areas of the national curriculum through presenting fundamental physical sciences and their applications to optics and photonics research. The activities have benefitted significantly from investment from international organizations, such as SPIE, OSA and the IEEE Photonics Society, and UK research councils, in conjunction with university recruitment and outreach strategies. New partnerships have been formed to expand outreach programs to work in non-traditional environments to challenge stereotypes of scientists. This paper presents two case studies of collaboration with education learning centers at Salisbury Cathedral and Winchester Cathedral. The paper outlines workshops and shows developed for pupils aged 6-14 years (UK key stages 2-4) on the electromagnetic spectrum, particle physics, telecommunications and the human eye using a combination of readily obtainable items, hand-built kits and elements from the EYEST Photonics Explorer kit. The activities are interactive to stimulate learning through active participation, complement the UK national curriculum and link the themes of science with the non-traditional setting of a cathedral. We present methods to evaluate the impact of the activity and tools to obtain qualitative feedback for continual program improvement. We also share lessons learned to assist educators emulating this format of engagement, and provide ideas and inspiration of outreach activities for student chapters to carry out.

Paper Details

Date Published: 16 August 2017
PDF: 14 pages
Proc. SPIE 10452, 14th Conference on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics: ETOP 2017, 1045207 (16 August 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2266451
Show Author Affiliations
Matthew T. Posner, Univ. of Southampton (United Kingdom)
Alexander Jantzen, Univ. of Southampton (United Kingdom)
Lieke D. van Putten, Univ. of Southampton (United Kingdom)
Andrea Ravagli, Univ. of Southampton (United Kingdom)
Andrei L. Donko, Univ. of Southampton (United Kingdom)
Nathan Soper, Univ. of Southampton (United Kingdom)
Nicholas H. L. Wong, Univ. of Southampton (United Kingdom)
Pearl V. John, Univ. of Southampton (United Kingdom)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 10452:
14th Conference on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics: ETOP 2017
Xu Liu; Xi-Cheng Zhang, Editor(s)

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