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Optics students bring hands-on activities to San Diego science festival

03 April 2014

The OSA & SPIE Student Chapter at University of California, Irvine, along with partners Optics Institute of Southern California (OISC) and the Optical Society of Southern California (OSSC), recently hosted a booth at EXPO Day during the San Diego Festival of Science & Engineering.

The student chapter, Photonics at UC Irvine, gave away 400 spectrometer kits during the event. The kaleidoscopes were also a huge success, with children of all ages lined up to build their own tubes.

Posters provided by SPIE on lasers, biophotonics, lithography, remote sensing, and more, were also popular with children and families, according to SPIE Senior Member Donn Silberman, founding director of OISC and OptoBoticsSM

Silberman displayed the latest OptoBoticsSM rover at the festival. It features near infrared and UV cameras, a polarimeter, spectrometer, and four visible peripheral cameras. The rover was not quite ready to run, but Silberman said he hopes it will be functional in time for the 2014 STEM & the Arts Career Showcase, 11-13 April in Costa Mesa, California.

OptoBotics' mission is to show high-school students how optics and photonics components and systems are integrated into robotics in many areas of everyday life and encourage them to pursue education in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Silberman will present his paper, "Optics outreach evolves in southern California: OptoBoticsSM begins to link informal to formal curriculum," at SPIE Optics + Photonics 2014, 17-21 August in San Diego, California.

The San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering featured a week of interactive demonstrations, hands-on activities, and dynamic speakers to engage kids and families in science and engineering, leading up to the Expo Day at PETCO Park.

More than 130 organizations provide interactive, hands-on activities showcasing STEM from around the San Diego region.

photo from San Diego science fair

Photonics at UC Irvine officers are SPIE Student Member Julia Majors (at left, above), president; Alba Alfonso García, OSA vice president; SPIE Student Member Kyle Nadeau, SPIE vice president; SPIE Student Member Richa Mittal, academic and industrial outreach; SPIE Student Member Rupsa Datta, secretary; SPIE Student Member Julie Hsu, treasurer; and SPIE Member Eric Potma, faculty adviser.

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