Whenever I meet someone new, the conversation always ends up at “So what major are you studying?” As I boldly claim Optical Science, most people give me a smirk and say “So you work with eyes and prescription glasses?” Almost all of the people I have met have never heard of what an Optical Science major is. To spread the word outreach programs expose people to what Optical Science is all about.
Last Friday evening, Ventana Vista Elementary School hosted an annual Plant Science Night where scientific organizations from all over the city of Tucson come together to educate the next generation on the understanding of plants. But as an Optical Science major, what is our role at a Plant Science Night you ask? Because plants don’t have many characteristics on the surface, but under the microscope, millions of organisms are “swimming” microscopically. So as Optical Engineers, my group brought microscopes and lenses to discover movement behind what appears to be an inanimate object. Some of our demonstrations included, a homemade compound microscope made of K’nex and Lego’s, an apparatus where by just placing your phone on the surface, the camera on your phone can act as a microscope (you can even take a picture!), and a microscope that is projected to a 42 inch screen with a water sample taken from the turtle pond on the UofA campus. We brought 3 microscopes, so the other 2 that are not in use are for the students to look at different plant and cacti samples that Dr. Nofziger brought with him.
Overall, Ventana’s Plant Science Night was a hit. There were approximately 1,000 to 1,500 people who attended the event. Large companies such as Honeywell also made an appearance to showcase their automatic seeder. Although a relatively new event with a surprising large amount in attendance, Plant Science Night is a great event for people of all ages (some parents are even amazed at what we do!). As I will be at Plant Science Night next year, I hope to see you there!
Feibien Cheah is pursuing his Bachelors in Optical Science at the University of Arizona. Working with Pierre Blanche on avionic head up display funded by Honeywell, he loves to learn about the future of technology! He also enjoys outreach and community service programs as well. Feibien is a counselor for the College of Engineering during the summer where high school students visit the University of Arizona campus and learn more about Engineering. Some of his hobbies are water polo, mountain biking, and fishing.