Today we are proud to announce that a school in Finland has received the 2500th Photonics Explorer. Photonics Explorer is an educational kit,developed by the photonics research team B - PHOT at VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel), for students of secondary schools to experiment with the different properties of light and photons. The concept is a 'lab-in-a-box' that enables students of the 2nd and 3rd grade to do photonics experiments themselves at school with lasers, LEDs, lenses, optical fibers, and other high-tech components.
The kit fits the learning objectives for sciences and pursues two main objectives of STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics). In the first instance Photonics Explorer links applications to real-world situations and to the life of young people. They discover for example how the polarization of light is crucial for LCD screens of smartphones and tablets, or how light can speed up the time to download movies from the Internet.
Furthermore, the kit is also built entirely around inquiry-based learning in which all students are involved, observing and reasoning actively. This hands-on approach gives students more confidence and stimulates their curiosity and problem-solving skills.
Photonics, or the science of light, which affects many aspects of our lives, can provide solutions to important future challenges for our society. For example in terms of energy with solar panels and smart LED lights, around optical sensors for self-driven cars and smart cities, through lighting technology for faster data networks, but also in the biomedical optical domain with new medical techniques.
125 000 young students potential STEM minds
Thanks to the 2500 Photonics Explorers, each year about 125 000 young people from
secondary schools in Europe learn about the wonderful world of light. The program on Photonics Explorer provides a workshop for teachers with a supportive educational framework. The durable kit contains relevant background on photonics, worksheets and other teaching material to make the experimental lessons very time efficient. Below you will find some quotes that reflect the experience of teachers. The 26 Local Associated Partners (LAPs) of Photonics Explorer across Europe organize teacher trainings and the distribution of kits in their particular region.
A selection of quotes teachers illustrate their positive experience on high usability in the classroom:
"This is a good concept, with many simple components that are really useful and practical for students." "The students are very curious and eager to work, they love to get started with the kit." "Photonics Explorer stimulates in a captivating way the scientific interest of the students." The experiences and more videos about Photonics Explorer can be viewed via http://www.eyest.eu/Programs/Photonics-Explorer.
Nathalie Debaes, CEO EYESTvzw responsible for the composition and global distribution of the kits:
"The Photonics Explorer was developed at the VUB by B-PHOT, as part of a European project and in collaboration with many international partners. The concept fits perfectly with the goals of STEM, to present science in an engaging and interactive way for young people of secondary schools. The interest of the schools and teachers is considerable: bringing 2500 Photonic Explorer kits to the schools reaches far beyond our expectation. The team behind Photonics Explorer continues its mission to motivate many young minds to work with photonics in all its applications."