Monday, January 22, 2007

Business as usual - photonics education for 13 year-olds.

Phew, just finished a fun, but exhausting day with 100 Year 8 Students visiting the University from Bitterne Park School, Southampton. We were all taking part in a Creative Partnerships project involving Nuffield Theatre, The Institute of Sound and Vibration and the School of Physics and Astronomy here at the University of Southampton.

The Creative Partnership project aims to find out whether taking part in a theatrical production based on Einstein's life can help Year 8 students with their Science lessons. We'll soon find out! Students will use what they have learned today about light and sound and incorporate it in their performance.

Here in Physics we introduced students to how Astronomers use colour - and the invisable parts of the electromagnetic spectrum - to see further into our universe. We showed students how we can manipulate light in fibre optics and telecommunications to allow us to send data from one side of the world to another, and lastly, we showed students how we can capture light through simple photographic processes (we made photograms).

I need to thank the Optoelectronic Research Centre (ORC's) OSA Chapter Lightwave crew and staff members who entertained the visitors with hands-on optics activities in half-hour interactive sessions. Students learned about fibre optics, total internal reflection and refraction and most importantly, they learned that research scientists are young, dynamic people who are really enthusiastic about their subject.

Our visitors were shown around the 'dairy box' at the ORC - the new research facility where fibre optics and sensor research is undertaken. I learned today that there are optical sensors in most rivers around Europe now which constantly monitor for polution - if anyone dumps nitrates -which kill fish- into a river the river authorities will know about it immediately!
Some of our visitors got dressed up in the 'bunny suits' - seen on the left - and their friends and classmates took photos.
The project will run until March - we will have another 120 visitors on the first of February - and I will be going into school four times between now and then - we'll make holograms and send signals to one another using morse code and torches. I'm looking forward to the theatre performance! Watch this space!


Blogger Chindu said...

:-) Way to go. I find the last photo quite interesting -- like, from a science fiction movie... ah, scratch that -- this is science non-fiction, I forgot!

9:12 AM  

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