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Highlighting Chapter Outreach Activities

A few times during the year we like to highlight the good work coming from SPIE Student Chapters. Many chapters have made an extra effort to get out into their community and help foster interest in the fields of optics and photonics.  All efforts, from a single student visit to a multi-chapter outreach program, provide pre-college (K-12) students with valuable experiences in science. 

Over 400 students visited the University of Calcutta to participate in optics-related activities.

A group of six students from the SPIE Student Chapter at the University of Calcutta, accompanied by faculty member Dr. Rajib Chakrabarty (Reader, AOP), reached out to the students of Sultanpur High School (Sultanpur, Ghatal, Paschim Midnapur, West Bengal). This time a large number of students turned up to attend the program, both from the middle school and high school. Chapter members had a full day spending time with students and conducting science demonstrations to as many as 415 visitors.The students were beaming with enthusiasm and spent the day-long session looking over each and every model with profound interest. It was very satisfying for our volunteers to interact with the students and their teachers who were in high praise of the program and expressed their interest in organizing another similar one with us in the future.

125 eigth-graders from two different middle schools visited UCSD to learn about holography.

As part of the Enspire Outreach event, Triton Engineering Student Council, invited 8th grade students from Pershing Middle School and Gompers Charter Middle school to visit UCSD and learn about engineering. The SPIE Triton Chapter hosted a workshop that was a stop on a circuit of lab tours. They explained what holograms are, and how they are useful (e.g, security, sensors, art). Theoretical concepts were explained at an age-appropriate level using analogies and visual aids such as a crude, hand-made scratch holograms. The guests observed many of the previously-made holograms, alongside the objects they were based on. Finally, the students went into the darkroom where chapter members exposed and developed holographic film live. Afterward, every attending student received their own 3D hologram to keep and show off to their friends and family.

Participants of the 'Fun with Optics' program at UT-Austin try out their new telescopes.

Explore UT is a university-wide outreach event organized each year by the University of Texas at Austin. Billed as the ‘Largest open house in Texas,' this year’s Explore UT took place from 11am to 5pm on 7 March 2009. Each year Explore UT attracts close to 50,000 children of different age groups to the university campus to learn and participate in various activities. The UT-Austin SPIE Chapter was charged with organizing an optics program for kids to learn and do some hands-on activities. Titled ‘Fun with Optics,’ their program was a presentation explaining some interesting properties of light; complete with demonstrations. To go along with the demonstrations, the chapter had small handouts that the kids could take home with them. As a climax to the presentation, using the telescope kits provided by SPIE, they demonstrated how the children could make their own telescope. The participants were able to build their own telescopes using the kits and then used the telescopes to look at a piece of paper pasted across the street. Thoroughout the day, close to 150 young students participated over five sessions. Chapter members describe organizing and participating in this outreach activity as an extremely rewarding and thoroughly enjoyable event for all involved.