Explore Optics with Online Tools
By Robin Hegg
There are many places online where you can delve deeper into the fields of optics and photonics. The Molecular Expressions website, put together by the Optical Microscopy Division of the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (a joint venture of The Florida State University, the University of Florida, and the Los Alamos National Laboratory) contains a number of interactive tutorials and information on a number of light-related topics. These tutorials allow you to explore the properties of light in greater depth. (Note: The tutorials require you to install and run Java.) Or check out NeoK12: Light & Optics, which features video lessons on light. Interested in cosmic light? Check out these educational resources.
Want to try something a bit more hands-on? Check out the Education Council of the Optical Society of America’s Optics Discovery Kit, designed to introduce students to optical science and engineering. The kit contains lenses, mirrors, holograms, optical fiber, polarizers and more, along with instructions for eleven experiments. The Light Blox Kit from Laser Classroom lets you explore color and light and includes lessons and demonstrations. Or, if you’re more interested in cosmic light, try out a Galileoscope.
You can also look for camps and programs in your area. Baker College Center for Engineering and Computer Technology in Michigan hosts a robotics and photonics summer camp and The University of Rochester’s Nano-Optics Group hosts an annual series of events for kids and teens, including optics demonstration for area kids and a day at the Institute of Optics for area high school students enrolled in Advanced Placement Physics. The National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in Florida also hosts internships, mentorships, and summer camps.
IEEE’s very own Photonics Society hosted International “Introduce a Girl to Photonics” Week in October of 2015 and plans to continue to host the event. The week included events and programs designed to engage girls in the field of photonics. If you’re interested in more information on how to get involved, you can contact the IEEE Photonics Society at PhotonicsSociety@ieee.org.