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Student Chapters Shine in '06

By Jason Hamman

What can 1600 enthusiastic optics students do in a year? The answer might surprise you-unless you keep up on the latest chapter reports! Students in SPIE chapters have taken the lead in a number of outstanding projects. One of the benefits of being part of the chapter program is sharing a connection with knowledgeable and resourceful peers all over the world.

CIO Students demonstrate optics principles at the Science Club for Children.

By far the most amazing aspect of the Student Chapter program is the wide ranging impact on optics and physics education in the local community. Over 2800 young students and educators have taken part in programs designed or supported by student chapter members in the past six months alone. Programs ranged from basic introductions to optics principles for elementary students to advanced optical communications experiments for early undergraduate students.

In León, Mexico, students at the Centro de Investigaciones en Óptica created workshops to introduce optics to local teachers. The program was so successful that every science teacher in León and surrounding areas has received this training. New programs are currently in development.

In 2006, many chapters took up the challenge of hosting large public outreach projects. Student Chapters in Poland participated in annual "Festivals of Science" where hundreds of students enjoyed innovative demonstrations and hands-on learning experiences. In Mexico, chapters organized several after-school science clubs that now serve over 400 pre-university students.

Students investigate physics with the Wroclaw Univ. Chapter's There are no concrete methods for spreading interest in optics; outreach programs are as varied as the chapters themselves, and are bolstered still further by the ingenuity and creativity of dedicated members. Each year Student Chapters design graduate-level curricula, build relationships with schools, and serve as optics pioneers in their local communities. Through well thought-out, scalable programs, students are leaving their mark now, more than ever, on local communities as they bring optics and photonics to a new generation of scientists.



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