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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Making optics appealing in Colombia through low-cost experiments with lasers
Author(s): Juan R. Álvarez; Nicolás Barbosa; Sergio Cotrino; David A. Guzmán; Víctor Mahecha; Cristian Medina; M. Cristina Navarrete; Leonardo Uribe; Alejandra Valencia

Paper Abstract

With the aim of making optics reachable to all audiences, regardless of their age or area of study, we have decided to select, build and test a set of four experiments based on optical phenomena. An important factor in our approach is that the experiments should be used by any non-experienced exhibitor to amaze the audience and to arise in them interest in optics. Ease of setup is therefore desired. Requirements such as durability, repeatability and reduced cost are welcome as well. Taking advantage of the low prices of laser pointers, we focused on experiments which use this nowadays accessible element. The experiments that integrate our selection, costing less than USD75, are: a water stream optical fiber, curved light beams on a honey-water mixture, an optical music transmitter-receiver, and holographic film projections. Among the covered concepts are reflection and refraction of light, color, optical communications, optical interference and modern everyday life’s applications. We have presented these setups in activities at our university to a wide range of educational levels, from 12-year old students, passing by last year high school students on a career day event, not leaving behind undergraduate students of any discipline. Moved by the positive response of the audience, we plan to expand its application to continuing education courses and kids’ science fairs. We proved that having low-cost setups, useful when teaching science in developing countries, can help to broaden the target audience.

Paper Details

Date Published: 8 October 2015
PDF: 7 pages
Proc. SPIE 9793, Education and Training in Optics and Photonics: ETOP 2015, 979333 (8 October 2015); doi: 10.1117/12.2223254
Show Author Affiliations
Juan R. Álvarez, Univ. de los Andes (Colombia)
Nicolás Barbosa, Univ. de los Andes (Colombia)
Sergio Cotrino, Univ. de los Andes (Colombia)
David A. Guzmán, Univ. de los Andes (Colombia)
Víctor Mahecha, Univ. de los Andes (Colombia)
Cristian Medina, Univ. de los Andes (Colombia)
M. Cristina Navarrete, Univ. de los Andes (Colombia)
Leonardo Uribe, Univ. de los Andes (Colombia)
Alejandra Valencia, Univ. de los Andes (Colombia)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9793:
Education and Training in Optics and Photonics: ETOP 2015

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