BELLINGHAM, Wash., Oct. 3 -- The International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE) and the Optical Society of America (OSA), along with Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), have been awarded a $1.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation to implement a national middle-school science education program, Hands-On Optics: Making an Impact with Light (HOO).
HOO is a three-year informal science program designed to bring optics education to tens of thousands of underserved students nationwide; it will focus on connecting optics industry volunteers with teachers and individual students. The program will reach out to females and minority groups who typically are inadequately represented in the science and technology workforce. Activities will include exercises like building a kaleidoscope, building a pinhole camera and creating holograms.
"We are confident that fostering an interest in science at an early age will help supplement the ranks of future optical engineers -- those who will fulfill the promise of the 'century of the photon,'" said Eugene Arthurs, SPIE executive director.
The HOO program will consist of optics-related modules that will take place after school, during weekend sessions, and at summer camps or family workshops. Development of the pilot program is scheduled to begin this month.
The curricula will be based on recommendations from scientists as well as science and technology educators and experts. NOAO will play a key role in training teachers and volunteers and in developing optics kits. MESA teachers will implement the program initially in California, Washington state and Arizona, and HOO will expand to selected sites across the country in 2005 and 2006.
For more information, visit: spie.org/announcements