Tag Archives: outreach

Girls Science Day Take II @Columbia University

On Saturday, November 15, 2014 Columbia hosted middle school girls from in and around New York City in the annual Girls Science Day. So what happens when you mix 40 middle schoolers, laser pointers, and fluorescent JELL-O?

We had a great plan- 40 minutes, we would explain the basic properties of an atom and how it relates to fluorescence, explain Snell’s law, give them a JELL-O waveguide,  and have them find the critical angle of the JELL-O waveguide. But, as we all know…even the best of plans can derail a bit…

Then came the critical question: “Can we touch it?” followed closely by “Can we eat it?!” And while Cathy quickly stopped them from eating the Jell-O, the touching of the waveguides soon turned into a bit of a JELL-O war. Clean up took a while, and  while our waveguides may not have stayed intact, the event was fun and informative. And we have learned for next year’s Girls Science Day to tell them not to throw the JELL-O when we instructed them to touch it.

Girls Science Day was hosted by Cathy Chen, Atiyah Ahsan, and Jelena Marasevic.  Approximately 40 students attended the event on Columbia University’s campus.

Select pictures can be seen below:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Girls in Engineering Summer Camp at UC Berkeley

Led by female faculty members and graduate students, during the past summer UC Berkeley College of Engineering launched a summer camp designed to inspire middle school girls to explore careers in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math). The summer camp consisted of two separate periods in June and July respectively, one week for each, and hosted altogether about 60 middle schoolers from five East Bay schools. See our video here.

As a female graduate student from a male-dominated department (EECS), and a CIAN student specialized in the area of optoelectronics, I feel obligated and pleased to introduce the girls to see what can be fun and interesting about optics. Continue reading

Plant Science Night

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.

Continue reading

Science Saturday: More than Rainbows

IMG_4497For the second year in a row, we have gone to Wheeler Taft Abbot Library to present as part of their Science Saturday series. Last year, we talked about the “Moons of the Solar System.” This year, our topic was “More than Rainbows,” or how light and color are much more than what we see in nature. We had between thirty and forty people, adults and children, at this event.

Everyone loves diffraction glasses! I enjoy watching the looks of awe that kids get when they put them on for the first time.

Everyone loves diffraction glasses! I enjoy watching the looks of awe that kids get when they put them on for the first time.

After I gave a short presentation at the beginning, everyone came and looked at all the demonstrations we had brought with us. Continue reading

Being a Young Scholar – A High School Student Opportunity

Are you a young, enthused individual who wants to work with lasers, gain valuable research skills, have fun AND get paid while doing this? These were the proposals that caught my attention and motivated me to apply to the Center for Integrated Access Networks (CIAN) Young Scholars internship program. While I was uncertain whether I would be a good candidate for this opportunity I knew that I had a desire to learn and gain valuable research skills and this program offered exactly what I desired.

CIAN logo

After submitting my application and anxiously waiting for a response, in December of 2013 the program coordinator contacted me and asked whether I was interested in participating in the program. I immediately agreed, because I knew that this was my chance to get involved in something exciting and meaningful. After exchanging a couple of email messages I was set up for an interview and told to prepare myself for an exciting opportunity.

Soon enough the big day arrived and before I could comprehend what was happening, I found myself knocking at the interviewer’s door. Continue reading

Optics in Montana!

I am very excited to finally write about my amazing trip up to Helena, Montana to talk about optics! This was such an enjoyable trip and one that will be a strong memory of my time at the U of A. This trip occurred back in May of this year.

Getting ready for the first presentation. I've got all my outreach tools ready in front of me. Can you tell I'm excited?

Getting ready for the first presentation. I’ve got all my outreach tools ready in front of me. Can you tell I’m excited?

The video on “Real Holography” that I made prompted this trip. A teacher friend of mine in Montana watched the video and showed it to her students. She later told me how much they enjoyed it. Her school is in the category of a rural school, and is far enough from any major university that a solid STEM presentation is hard to come by. I spoke with the folks at CIAN, and they agreed to fund my trip up there! I still smile thinking about the event, I had so much fun. My teacher friend, Deanna Carlson, organized several events for me. Continue reading

Gallery

Laser Fun Day report

This gallery contains 8 photos.

This story is very late, I’m afraid. Regardless, Laser Fun Day was a huge event so it’s worth discussing even this late. On March 1st, the College of Optical Sciences held it’s fourth annual Laser Fun Day! The event was well … Continue reading