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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Light-based educational outreach activities for pre-university students
Author(s): Shereen W. Hamdy; Takako Hirokawa; Philip Chan; Warren Jin; Victoria Rosborough; Eric Stanton; Andrew M. Netherton; Marilyn Garza; Wendy Ibsen; Demis D. John; John E. Bowers

Paper Abstract

We have developed three light-based educational outreach activities targeted towards pre-university students, emphasizing experiential hands-on components for core learning via challenges the students must complete. These activities leverage photonics concepts from two active research areas at the Univ. of California Santa Barbara: integrated optics and solid-state lighting. The activities center on (1) building a free-space optical link, (2) subtractive and additive color mixing, and (3) guiding light using gelatin waveguides. These activities are self-contained that is, the necessary background and intuition are introduced and built, respectively, before culminating in the main demonstration. The color-mixing and gelatin waveguide activities were designed for middle school students (ages 10-13) and their families, while the free-space optical link activity was designed for high school students (ages 14-18). Graduate students, not necessarily in photonics or optics, typically lead these activities for groups of 20-30 students after an initial training. We have found that we are able to garner considerable excitement from students when activities culminate in a challenge, especially if it has a competitive nature. This allows leaders to emphasize important practices in scientific research, such as: using the success of others' experiments to one's benefit, making informed hypotheses and testing them, persistence in understanding and solving a problem, and finally, the desire to improve upon a working solution.

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 July 2019
PDF: 9 pages
Proc. SPIE 11143, Fifteenth Conference on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics: ETOP 2019, 111432R (2 July 2019); doi: 10.1117/12.2523654
Show Author Affiliations
Shereen W. Hamdy, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Takako Hirokawa, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Philip Chan, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Warren Jin, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Victoria Rosborough, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Eric Stanton, National Institute of Standards and Technology (United States)
Andrew M. Netherton, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Marilyn Garza, Santa Barbara Junior High School (United States)
Wendy Ibsen, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
Demis D. John, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)
John E. Bowers, Univ. of California, Santa Barbara (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 11143:
Fifteenth Conference on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics: ETOP 2019
Anne-Sophie Poulin-Girard; Joseph A. Shaw, Editor(s)

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