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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Photonics Explorer: revolutionizing photonics in the classroom
Author(s): Amrita Prasad; Nathalie Debaes; Nina Cords; Robert Fischer; Johan Vlekken; Manfred Euler; Hugo Thienpont

Paper Abstract

The ‘Photonics Explorer’ is a unique intra-curricular optics kit designed to engage, excite and educate secondary school students about the fascination of working with light – hands-on, in their own classrooms. Developed with a pan European collaboration of experts, the kit equips teachers with class sets of experimental material provided within a supporting didactic framework, distributed in conjunction with teacher training courses. The material has been specifically designed to integrate into European science curricula. Each kit contains robust and versatile components sufficient for a class of 25-30 students to work in groups of 2-3. The didactic content is based on guided inquiry-based learning (IBL) techniques with a strong emphasis on hands-on experiments, team work and relating abstract concepts to real world applications. The content has been developed in conjunction with over 30 teachers and experts in pedagogy to ensure high quality and ease of integration. It is currently available in 7 European languages. The Photonics Explorer allows students not only to hone their essential scientific skills but also to really work as scientists and engineers in the classroom. Thus, it aims to encourage more young people to pursue scientific careers and avert the imminent lack of scientific workforce in Europe. 50 Photonics Explorer kits have been successfully tested in 7 European countries with over 1500 secondary school students. The positive impact of the kit in the classroom has been qualitatively and quantitatively evaluated. A non-profit organisation, EYESTvzw [Excite Youth for Engineering Science and Technology], is responsible for the large scale distribution of the Photonics Explorer.

Paper Details

Date Published: 15 October 2012
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 8481, Optics Education and Outreach II, 84810H (15 October 2012); doi: 10.1117/12.979339
Show Author Affiliations
Amrita Prasad, Vrije Univ. Brussel (Belgium)
Nathalie Debaes, Vrije Univ. Brussel (Belgium)
Nina Cords, Univ. of Kiel (Germany)
Robert Fischer, Vrije Univ. Brussel (Belgium)
Univ. Federal de Alagoas (Brazil)
Johan Vlekken, Vrije Univ. Brussel (Belgium)
Manfred Euler, Univ. of Kiel (Germany)
Hugo Thienpont, Vrije Univ. Brussel (Belgium)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8481:
Optics Education and Outreach II
G. Groot Gregory, Editor(s)

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