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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Web-based photonics simulator for secondary school students

Paper Abstract

In the “real world”, Photonics is somewhat invisible to those who rely upon it worldwide. We would like students to connect their everyday experiences of communications with the underlying ideas in Photonics. To do this, we have developed the Photonics Simulator to illustrate to high school students how text or information is coded into binary optical signals which are relayed through photonic communications networks from sender to receiver. Using our simulator, students construct a virtual network, and then test it by sending messages. The messages are coded using ASCII binary code as digital signals in data packets with address headers, which need to be switched, combined, amplified, or delayed to get to their designated address. The students must manage their power budget, correctly target each message address, and avoid collisions of data packets to send their messages uncorrupted and error-free. We tested an early version of the simulator with five Year 9 and 10 classes. The students provided many constructive comments and their feedback was used to improve the graphical interface of the simulator. We subsequently tested the simulator with 80 Year 9 students in short workshops. Overall we had a very positive response - it was more fun than a normal class, and interactivity helped students retain information. Students enjoy the visual aspects– they see how messages are delivered, and learn the function of each network component by experiment. Tests of the simulator at the Macquarie Siemens Science Experience were also encouraging, with one student even sneaking back to class to complete his challenges!

Paper Details

Date Published: 5 June 2009
PDF: 8 pages
Proc. SPIE 9666, 11th Education and Training in Optics and Photonics Conference, 96660V (5 June 2009); doi: 10.1117/12.2207975
Show Author Affiliations
Sam Campbell, Macquarie Univ. (Australia)
Kali Madden, Macquarie Univ. (Australia)
Adam Strickland, Macquarie Univ. (Australia)
Robert Williams, Macquarie Univ. (Australia)
Nemanja Jovanovic, Macquarie Univ. (Australia)
Benjamin F. Johnston, Macquarie Univ. (Australia)
Judith M. Dawes, Macquarie Univ. (Australia)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9666:
11th Education and Training in Optics and Photonics Conference
K. Alan Shore, Editor(s)

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