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International Day of Light 2019 Focuses on Youth and Education

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From Indonesia to Sweden, educating children on the importance of photonics will be a major goal of International Day of Light on May 16, thereby promoting science education among young people.

In the second annual event marking the anniversary of the first successful operation of the laser in 1960 by physicist and engineer Theodore Maiman, International Day of Light 2019 will feature activities to educate young people from the elementary level to college.

UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization headquartered in Paris, describes light as an inspiring subject in many disciplines used to promote science education for children.

“Teaching programs using light science and technology build worldwide educational capacity through activities targeting children, addressing issues of gender balance, and focusing especially on countries with emerging economies,” officials stated on the UNESCO website.

In addition, the science and applications of light are natural catalysts in encouraging local innovation, even in environments with limited resources including developing countries around the globe.

“Moreover, education in light and light-based technologies acts as a lever to encourage careers in science and engineering, as well as stimulating entrepreneurship,” according to UNESCO.

China, Greece, India, Latvia, Ireland, and Poland either have sponsored or will sponsor workshops and lectures geared toward encouraging youth to pursue careers in photonics.

In China, university students who are members of the Jilin University OSA student chapter started their course for youngsters with basic optical theory, are continuing with demonstrations and experiments to enable the children to understand the principles of optics, and will end by having the young people conduct their own experiments.

High school students in Athens, Greece, heard distinguished speakers from the Photonics Communications Research Laboratory speak about photonics and their personal career paths, while in India, children in grades six through 10 took part in a youth development program on lasers.

In India on International Day of Light, schoolchildren of all ages, including college students, will visit optics and photonics labs. High school students in Indonesia will take part in experiments based on topics such as “Optical Light Spectrum and How Colors Are Made,” “Interference Phenomenon in Waves, Light, and Matter Interaction,” and “Application of Light in Daily Lives.”

Israeli high school students will participate in activities that explore light and hear a lecture on electromagnetic radiation and applications, while college students in Latvia will “Learn and Shine with SPIE.”

Elementary school children in Spain will take part in workshops that address refraction, reflection, lasers, fluorescence, and lighting and will conduct experiments in those areas.

Sweden will conduct an outreach program with the student chapter of the Optics Society, which will visit international schools in Lund.

“Optics for Juniors” will be presented to middle school age children in Thailand. The students will also be given hands-on toolkits and a chance to perform experiments.

Photonics Handbook
GLOSSARY
photonics
The technology of generating and harnessing light and other forms of radiant energy whose quantum unit is the photon. The science includes light emission, transmission, deflection, amplification and detection by optical components and instruments, lasers and other light sources, fiber optics, electro-optical instrumentation, related hardware and electronics, and sophisticated systems. The range of applications of photonics extends from energy generation to detection to communications and...
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