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Lasers, black lights, color illuminate science for Girls Scouts in SPIE-sponsored workshop

Participants say optics and photonics are 'cool'

30 October 2009

BELLINGHAM, Washington, USA -- Middle- and high-school-aged Girl Scouts rated optics not only interesting but "cool" after participating in a hands-on science workshop in San Diego earlier this month.San Diego Girl Scout optics workshop

The workshop, titled "You Can Be … Looking into the Future," was one of a series of programs offered by the San Diego Imperial Girl Scout Council to present science, math, and technology topics to girls in grades 6 through 12.

The event was sponsored by SPIE and other optics and photonics organizations, and staffed by an all-women team of volunteers including physicist from the nearby Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center research facility, a college physics instructor, and physics doctoral candidates.

The 55 attendees were provided with demonstrations on topics such as what makes laser light unique, how to bend light and focus it on a target, and why although the Sun is really green it appears to the human eye as red and orange, and talked with volunteers about careers in physics and optical engineering.

Participants said the workshop enhanced what they have learned in their classrooms, and that they were inspired by the women scientists who assisted as volunteers. As one summarized, "Light is really cool!"

"Programs such as this are vital in inspiring the next generation of scientists to discover how optics and photonics work and their relevance in solving many of the world's challenges as well as opening up new doors to what was once impossible," said Lisa Tsufura, Technical Marketing Manager for CVI Melles Griot and chair of the SPIE Corporate and Exhibitor Committee. "These technologies are fundamental in the communications networks that bring information to all parts of the world, enabling medical and biomedical advances, and in improving the quality of life in ways we have yet to conceive."

SPIE supports numerous outreach programs at schools, universities, and community events around the world each year, ranging from poster contests and panel discussions to multi-day science camps and community events. These activities provide optics and photonics professionals with opportunities to directly connect with and mentor the next generation of scientists, engineers, and researchers.

SPIE is the international society for optics and photonics founded in 1955 to advance light-based technologies. Serving more than 188,000 constituents from 138 countries, the Society advances emerging technologies through interdisciplinary information exchange, continuing education, publications, patent precedent, and career and professional growth. SPIE annually organizes and sponsors approximately 25 major technical forums, exhibitions, and education programs in North America, Europe, Asia, and the South Pacific. In 2008, SPIE contributed $1.9 million in support of scholarships, grants, and other education programs around the world. For more information, visit SPIE.org.

Photo caption: The red laser beam hits the target, in the final step of a laser-focusing experiment at a workshop on optics and photonics presented by the Girl Scout council in San Diego.

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Media contact:
Amy Nelson
Public Relations Manager
+1 360 685 5478
amy@spie.org

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