SPIE has awarded $60,000 in International Year of Light (IYL) activity grants to support 26 SPIE Student Chapters in developing community events and activities that highlight the critical role that light plays in our daily lives and promote awareness of the IYL.
The UN General Assembly proclaimed 2015 the International Year of Light to increase public and political understanding of the central role of light in the modern world and to celebrate significant scientific anniversaries occurring in 2015. SPIE is an IYL founding partner.
The SPIE IYL activity grants are in addition to the optics education outreach grants that SPIE provides to non-profit organizations each year.
SPIE Student Chapter members plan to use the funds for development of a laser harp (University of Sydney in Australia and Stanford University in the United States); a laser maze (Washington State University and Stanford); a traveling mobile darkroom (University College Dublin in Ireland); and a documentary on the history of optics in Spain (Universitat Jaume I in Spain).
Already this year, SPIE Student Chapters have used grant funds for projects such as developing a laser maze (University of Arizona, in the USA) and building a Goldberg machine (Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León [UANL], in Mexico).
In another example, the University of Texas at Austin Chapter (USA) participated in an "Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day" at the university in February where more than 150 fourth- and fifth-graders learned lessons in light-based science and technology.
Using funds provided by SPIE, the UT at Austin chapter and the UT Women in Engineering Program arranged four interactive stations at the event where young students could learn about the basic properties of geometrical optics, LEDs, fluorescence, and ultraviolet (UV) light. A laser classroom kit and LED Light Blox sets were used to explain the basic principles of optics.
While making scratch holograms from CD jewel cases, students learned about specular holography at the first station, and basic optics principles through laser experiments and playing the Laser Game KHET.
Sorting gummy bears under different colors of light from an LED Light Blox set showed participants that color is a property of light, at the second station.
A third station enabled participants to look at various sources of light using foldable spectrometers.
At the final station, extracted chlorophyll was used to demonstrate fluorescence, and participants made UV bead bracelets and drew UV "tattoos" on their hands.
Other recipients who will be conducting, or already have conducted, IYL outreach events this year with the SPIE grants are:
- Cameroon Chapter (Cameroon)
- City College New York (USA)
- Delaware State University Chapter (USA)
- Friedrich-Alexander-Universität, Erlangan-Nürnberg Chapter (Germany)
- INAOE Chapter (Mexico)
- INRS Student Chapter (Canada)
- McGill University Chapter (Canada)
- Montana State University Chapter (USA)
- National Chiao Tung University Chapter (Taiwan)
- National Institute of Technology, Goa (India)
- Nicolaus Copernicus University (Poland)
- Texas A&M University Chapter (USA)
- Three Rivers Community College Chapter (USA)
- Tunisia Chapter (Tunisia)
- University of Michigan Chapter (USA)
- University of Southampton Chapter (UK)
- University of St Andrews (UK)
- Vilnius University Student Chapter (Lithuania)
The full list of SPIE Student Chapters receiving SPIE awards and a description of their IYL projects is online at http://spie.org/x108865.xml