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Proceedings Paper

Hands-on optics: an informal science education initiative
Author(s): Anthony M. Johnson; Stephen M. Pompea; Eugene G. Arthurs; Constance E. Walker; Robert T. Sparks
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Paper Abstract

The project is collaboration between two scientific societies, the Optical Society of America (OSA) and SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO). The program is designed to bring science education enrichment to thousands of underrepresented middle school students in more than ten states, including female and minority students, who typically have not been the beneficiaries of science and engineering resources and investments. HOO provides each teacher with up to six activity modules, each containing enough materials for up to 30 students to participate in 6-8 hours of hands-on optics-related activities. Sample activities, developed by education specialists at NOAO, include building kaleidoscopes and telescopes, communicating with a beam of light, and a hit-the-target laser beam challenge. Teachers engage in two days of training and, where possible, are partnered with a local optics professional (drawn from the local rosters of SPIE and OSA members) who volunteers to spend time with the teacher and students as they explore the module activities. Through these activities, students gain experience and understanding of optics principles, as well as learning the basics of inquiry, critical thinking, and problem solving skills involving optics, and how optics interfaces with other disciplines. While the modules were designed for use in informal after- school or weekend sessions, the number of venues has expanded to large and small science centers, Boys and Girls Clubs, Girl Scouts, summer camps, family workshops, and use in the classroom.

Paper Details

Date Published: 14 September 2007
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 6668, Novel Optical Systems Design and Optimization X, 66680D (14 September 2007); doi: 10.1117/12.740568
Show Author Affiliations
Anthony M. Johnson, Univ. of Maryland, Baltimore County (United States)
Stephen M. Pompea, National Optical Astronomy Observatory (United States)
Eugene G. Arthurs, SPIE (United States)
Constance E. Walker, National Optical Astronomy Observatory (United States)
Robert T. Sparks, National Optical Astronomy Observatory (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6668:
Novel Optical Systems Design and Optimization X
R. John Koshel; G. Groot Gregory, Editor(s)

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