Our outreach team teaches an extracurricular class on the physics of light for high school students through the School for Scientific Thought program through CSEP at CNSi. The class met weekly for five weeks, with a different topic and demonstration for each lesson. We have developed hands-on activities and lessons which we provide freely for you to adapt and reuse!
Lesson 1: Introduction
As an introduction to the class, PhoSoc Outreach team members Eric J. Stanton, Victoria Rosborough and Takako Hirokawa developed a hands-on activity for high school students, in which students made their own laser-communications transceiver.
The short activity allows the students to optically transmit music (from a smartphone, for example) via an LED or Laser, and receive it to listen on headphones. Students can compare the use of an LED/laser and optical fiber/free-space by simply listening to the received audio quality!
This activity is based on Simon Field’s plans at sci-toys.com: Simple laser communicator
Lesson 2: Optical Waveguides
In week two, Kareem Hamdy and Victoria Rosborough designed a course to introduce students to the principles of optical waveguiding that enable today's worldwide high-speed communications networks. We teach students about the index of refraction, so that students can measure the index of refraction of a transparent material in a hands-on experiment. In one set of course material, we provide a more intuitive introduction. In the other, we provide a more mathematical explanation of this phenomenon.
Lesson 3: LEDs and Lasers
In week three, Eric Stanton, Philip Chan and Kareem Hamdy design a lesson to introduce LEDs and Lasers, and discuss their physical mechanisms. In this week's activity, students perform a skit as electrons and photons to demonstrate the physics of stimulated emission! See the lesson slides for more details.
Lesson 4: Electromagnetic Spectrum and Solar Energy
In week four, Takako Hirokawa, Warren Jin, and Eric Stanton use diffraction gratings to explore the electromagnetic spectra of everyday light sources. After an activity on wave interference to explain how diffraction gratings work, students use the gratings to observe different types of lightbulbs, and run a solar energy experiment to see which light sources can produce the most usable energy.
Lesson 5: Nanofabrication and Photonics Research Opportunities
In week five, we gave the class tours of the UCSB Nanofabrication Facility, and integrated photonic research labs. In the in-class portion of day five, we introduced the class to microfabrication, and an example LED fabrication process.
SST was made possible by Wendy Ibsen at the Center for Science and Engineering Partnerships and AIM-Photonics.