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Tec de Monterrey Chapter Outreach Project

By Dorilián López-Mago

The Tec de Monterrey SPIE student chapter has about 50 members. Most of them are undergrads. We have physicists, chemists, biologists, designers and programmers. This diversity has enabled us to develop exciting and innovative activities. We organize colloquia, workshops, science fairs, khet tournaments, photo contests, symposia and we hold an Astronomy and Khet club which meet once a week. We have even developed a community service project which is one of our more ambitious tasks.

One of our chapter members has started a community service project called Alpha Centauri. The project is part of the social projects within the campus. The students have to complete around one hundred hours of social service in order to graduate. The Alpha Centauri project consists of taking scientific experiments to kids from elementary school. The objective is to increase the critical reasoning and creativity in children of the last years of elementary schools through experiments and artistic activities using a constructivist learning methodology. Besides, the event was created to increase the social compromise and responsibility towards a better Mexican education. It started the previous semester with just one school. Nevertheless, it was awarded the best community service of the campus. Now, there are four elementary schools involved which have around two hundred students. There are about 50 university students participating in the project, including members of the chapter. The service is performed the entire semester every Saturday morning. The covered topics in the program include mechanics, optics, chemistry and biology. The optics section was developed by the officers of the SPIE student chapter and includes material given by the SPIE and OSA such as the Hands-on Optics and the Optics Suitcase.

The closure of the project consists of a science fair in the campus. All the experiments are exhibited in the two days of the event. The main objective is to increase the scientific curiosity and motivate other students to join the project. In addition, we invite and support schools to visit the fair. Thus, in future more and more schools will be added to the project.