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Proceedings Paper • Open Access

Increasing photonics awareness for youngsters using technology boot camps
Author(s): Chrysanthos Panayiotou

Paper Abstract

In Florida, and the United States in general, we are experiencing low interest in our photonics technician programs from students finishing high school. The National Science Foundation and many other national organizations have been promoting STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) during the last ten years, which has increased the interest and awareness among students and parents. However, the large majority of the students who show interest in STEM opt for an education at a university where they can obtain a bachelor’s degree. To attract more students to a two-year Associate degree in Photonics we established a year-long program of short technology boot camps for students who are in middle school or their first grade of high school. We borrowed the idea from after-school music lessons or camps, and soccer or other sports activities. The students are weekly engaged in these mostly fun activities during after-school hours, and for a long period of time lasting many months. Music lessons, for example, are typically offered once a week, but last from 9 – 12 months. Sports activities run as long as an entire season. We hypothesized that the continuous interaction with the subject allows a young person to develop skills, confidence, and experience that eventually influence their decision to continue further studies that will lead to a career. To test this idea, we created a series of technology camps that we offered during the entire year, after school hours, allowing an interested student to pursue technological education throughout the year. The technological awareness and continuous engagement with hands on activities enabled the youngsters to discover if they had talents or proclivities that would trigger the desire for further studies in technology, engineering, or science. This paper describes the different technology camps, the data gathered, the outcomes and the results of testing our hypothesis.

Paper Details

Date Published: 2 July 2019
PDF: 6 pages
Proc. SPIE 11143, Fifteenth Conference on Education and Training in Optics and Photonics: ETOP 2019, 111432O (2 July 2019); doi: 10.1117/12.2523804
Show Author Affiliations
Chrysanthos Panayiotou, Indian River State College (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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