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  • New Program Has Kids Seeing 'Infrared'
Jul 2004
WASHINGTON, July 9 -- Nearly 50 science teachers, along with volunteer experts, from the Los Angeles area and around the country will gather at the University of Southern California July 9-11 for training to launch Hands-On Optics (HOO), a three-year, National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded program of science education for middle-school students that will let them interact with professionals and work hands-on with lasers, kaleidoscopes and infrared beams.

HOO is a collaboration of the Optical Society of America and the International Society for Optical Engineering, along with key industry partners the National Optical Astronomy Observatory and the Mathematics Engineering Science Achievement academic enrichment program.

The goal of HOO is to engage students, their parents and their communities by making the science of light relevant to them. According to the NSF, which awarded a $1.7 million grant to HOO organizers to implement the program, US students are performing at or below the levels attained by students in other countries in the developed world. In addition, in international comparisons by NSF, US student performance becomes increasingly weaker at higher grade levels, and despite improved overall performance, achievement gaps among various racial/ethnic subgroups persist and have shown no signs of narrowing since 1990.

HOO volunteers will work to increase science and technology knowledge for students, especially underrepresented middle school students, and to narrow the gap by providing opportunities for students to succeed in collaborative learning and problem-solving through inquiry based, hands-on applications of optical and engineering skills and knowledge. Training sessions for other regions are being planned.

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