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Optics Outreach Games

On Saturday evening, students from 19 different SPIE student chapters competed in the annual Optics Outreach Games, which were open to the public, and demonstrated optical principles ranging from microscopy to free-space communication to optical cloaking.

The student chapter at Univ. of Delhi demonstrated basic optical principles of light scattering to answer questions like "why is the sky blue" and "why is a sunset red" for village children around Delhi. They added a splash of milk to a large clear tub of water to introduce particles, then used a flashlight to simulate the light source of the sun.

The Univ. of Utah chapter demonstrated optical cloaking using a simple setup of four lenses mounted to a measuring stick and explained the way the lenses bend light rays to hide objects that are placed behind them.

The winning team from Univ. of Southampton showed the evolution of theatre, from shadow theatre, which works simply by blocking light, to splitting white light into the primary colors that illuminate modern color LED displays, up to the polarization principles that drive modern day 3D cinema.

Callum Stirling, one of the students from Univ. of Southampton, enjoyed the simple shadow puppet portion of their experimental setup the most because "it is very intuitive, interactive, and young kids only need minor guidance to figure out how a shadow forms and the principle that light travels in straight lines."

Other demonstrations included DIY instructions for cellphone projectors, pinhole cameras, and microscopes.

About winning the competition, Alex Jantzen says, "It is an incredible honor, and not just because of the prize, but because of the quality of competition we had."

This year's winners are as follows:

University of Fukui, 3rd place winners 2018 SPIE Optics Outreach Games

3rd place - University of Fukui Chapter, Japan
"Let's Perform with Light"

Instituto Nacional de Astroficica, Optica y Electronica, 2nd place winners 2018 SPIE Optics Outreach Games

2nd place - Instituto Nacional de Astroficica, Optica y Electronica Chapter, Mexico
"Refracting Light: Homemade Projector"

University of Southampton, 1st place winners 2018 SPIE Optics Outreach Games

1st place - University of Southampton Chapter, United Kingdom
"Shadow Theatre to 3D Cinemas"

People's Choice Award - University of Fukui Chapter, Japan
"Let's Perform with Light

See videos of some of the demonstrations on the SPIE Students Facebook Page