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Massive Optics Outreach Event Held at ISP Chapter

By Praveen Cheriyan Ashok, ISP Chapter President

Optics Fair 2007 was organized by the ISP-SPIE Student Chapter on 17-18 October 2007. The program was a big success with more than 1300 school students participating in the two day event. The feedback we received was overwhelming. The enthusiastic and motivated faces of the school students told us directly of the success of the program. The Optics Fair was the largest event conducted by the chapter in its three year history.


A high school class eagerly listens to an explanation of optics concepts.

Chapter members were enthusiastic about this event from the beginning and excited to get a feel for teaching school students the real world of Optics and Light. The fair was open to a wide range of student ages, so activities had to be designed that were appropriate for all abilities. The main idea behind this fair was to introduce the younger kids to the magnificent field of Optics in a simple manner. High School students were exposed to more facts with the goal to motivate the higher secondary students to pursue the field of Optics. The event also proved a good occasion to teach the topics taught in the schools in a better way.

View the Event Photo Gallery

Planning

This fair included sections of students right from Class 4 to Class 12. Three instructional units were prepared to address the different levels: a kids section for the students of Class 4 to 7, a high school section for the students of class 8 to 10, and a higher secondary section for the students of Class 11 & 12.

The overall program was coordinated by a group of three members: Praveen Cheriyan Ashok, Jemy James, and Nitish Kumar. Each section was headed by one team leader and team leaders were given the full freedom to design the experiments.

The entire event would not have been possible but for the extreme co-operation from the chapter members as volunteers. The kids section had eight volunteers including the leaders. The high school section had 11 volunteers to explain the more detailed experiments and the higher secondary section had a total of 14 volunteers. Twenty-two students took on the role of event managers.


Event volunteers gather for a picture at the conclusion of Optics Fair 2007. Without volunteers, this event would not have been possible.

Response

The response received for this event was overwhelming. Schools started registering even before the official notification was published. In three days after the publication of notification all slots were filled and we were forced to reject many further enquiries for registration. Sixteen schools participated in this event, and the feedback received from the participants were all positive. Even though catering 1400 students in 2 days is not an easy job, with good management and sincere work from the volunteers, the event was conducted smoothly.

Program

With so many students attending the fair, the event managers were critical to ensuring that students moved efficiently through all the stations. The duties of the event managers were divided in to six sections. Registation, parking, and door managers ensured that people got to the right places at the right time. Volunteers were also allotted to distribute drinking water to the school students to refresh them. Then, to market our poster developed and designed by our chapter members, a marketplace was arranged. Students got to see more explanative posters related to their studies, and in fact as a response to it, the schools started booking for the posters. The CDs, DVDs and the posters of SPIE were freely distributed to the schools at the marketplace. After taking part in the fair, students were led to the video presentation at the auditorium, which was looked after by three volunteers. The videos Einsteins' Universe, which was produced by ISP-SPIE student chapter during Year of physics and two videos - Careers in Optics and SPIEWorks - were screened. The students were really amazed and motivated by the videos.

Kids Section

The kids section had three team leaders and three instructional packages. The reflection demonstrations included a combination of mirrors, kaleidoscope etc. The school students were given "Hands on Experience" to learn the basic concepts of reflection. The world of telescopes and microscopes were introduced to the kids in the refraction package, in which the students were told about the image formation and what is happening behind the telescopes. The students were given the freedom to use the telescope to see distant objects.


Young students explore optics using telescopes. For many, this was the first time they had ever used one.

It was really interesting to see the school students use the telescopes for the first time in their life and watch them get excited about it. Light and colour formed the last instructional topic. The students were shown the combination of colours, red, blue, and green for the white colour. They were amazed by this; also we also tried to show them Newton's color disk to make them understand that white light consists of seven colours. The lesson concluded with a section on the persistence of vision - what are commonly called optical illusions. Overall, the small students were difficult to handle but they were the most enthusiastic participants.

High School Sections

The high school junction was aimed at students of class 8th to 10th. Two team leaders were allotted for the section and they whole heartedly developed the concept and made the demonstrations exceptional.
The experiments are:
1. Light and Lasers
2. Scattering of Light.
3. Telescope and Microscope.
4. Eye
5. Dispersion, Prism.
6. Total internal reflection.
7. Tyndall experiment for wave guiding
8. Colour disc, Optical illusions.

The higher secondary section were at a higher level of learning and more explanation was given during the demonstrations.
The experiments are:
1. Lasers and its applications.
2. Interference.
3. Diffraction.
4. Polarisation.
5. Total Internal Reflection.
6. Optical Fibers and Tyndall effect.
7. Optic Fiber Communication kit.
8. Holography and optical illusion.

Final comments

Feedback forms given to the students were evaluated.  Most of the students asked for more and more optics fairs in the year. Also they were really happy to see that science and optics was simple. There was feedback which indicated that some students who came to the exhibition with an ill feeling toward optics were really changed and started to enjoy this subject of optics and light.

The event gave good publicity for the outreach activities of the chapter. Many schools showed interest in the "Optics to Schools" program of the chapter. Also during the program, the announcement of chapters new project, to develop an "Optics Kit" was made. The response towards the optics kit was also encouraging. This event gave the chapter confidence to carry on with its outreach activities and its attempt to popularize optics among school students.