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Australia: OSA Student Chapter meets future science students

Text Box:    High school students study the polarizing sheets from the Optics Suitcase.  Text Box:    PhD student Robert Fischer talks about polarization of light.  On August 23 two officers from the Australian National University (ANU) OSA Student Chapter visited the Trinity High School in Wanniassa, Canberra, equipped with a slide show presentation, a video projector, and the famous Optics Suitcase from Rochester.

The goal was to give 54 students from the top science classes at the school an idea about what it is like to study and work at university within the field of optical sciences. This was achieved through an interactive presentation involving colorful slides combined with live demonstrations of several fascinating and inspiring optical phenomena.

After an introduction to ourselves and our field of study, the polarization properties of light were gradually explained to the students and demonstrated using e.g. polarizing sheets and polarization rotating objects (transparent plasticware).

The class we spoke to consisted of year nine students (14-15 years old) who were just doing light and sound with their science teacher, and our visit therefore fitted in perfectly with their knowledge and current activities. We were able to maintain an interactive presentation where the students were guided to discover things by themselves and to figure out the right explanations for the observations with which they were presented.

The visit proved to be a very enriching experience for both the high school students and the participating OSA student members, and we are looking forward to giving more such presentations in the future.

Text Box:       High school students study different items from the Optics Suitcase.

 

 

 

 

 

Three days later, on August 26, our Student Chapter took part in the university's annual Open Day event. The ANU Open Day is designed to provide information about the university's degrees to college students who are about to choose what to study. It was therefore an excellent opportunity for us to give prospective science students a glimpse of the fascinating world of optics at this important moment in their education program.

Our booth was equipped with posters and pictures displaying our research work, labs and OSA Student Chapter, as well as several exciting optics demonstrations which people were encouraged to explore with their own hands!
With laser pointers and a homebuilt water jet setup, and several types of optical fibres, we were able to explain and show the interested visitors how to trap and control light in optical waveguide structures. Items from the Optics Suitcase were used to demonstrate e.g. the colors of white light.

We managed to attract a great deal of attention throughout the day, and believe we may have inspired many future university students to pursue a science degree at the ANU.

Thanks to everyone who participated!

Text Box:    PhD student Amrita explains the principle of total internal reflection to curious visitors.  Text Box:    Demonstrating guiding of light in a thick polymer fiber.
Text Box:    The OSA Student Chapter booth at the ANU Open Day.  Text Box:    OSA Student Chapter members at the ANU Open Day.
Text Box:    Setup demonstrating guiding of a green laser pointer beam in a jet of water.