The PHOTON projects of the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) use photonics & optics (Live link to “What Is Photonics? Page) as a vehicle for improving secondary and post-secondary science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, while also setting students on real career paths encompassing several academics degree levels.
The programs focus on developing field-tested student-centered educational materials, providing science and technology teacher professional development, and facilitating relationships between academia and local industry. The Projects have already produced an array of curriculum materials that can be used in existing courses or to develop new ones.
In 1994, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the first Advanced Technology Education (ATE) grants with the goal of improving technician education at two-year colleges and forming partnerships between academic institutions and industry. In 1995, the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) in Boston, Massachusetts received its first ATE grant, a project to prepare teachers to introduce fiber optic technology to secondary and postsecondary students in the six New England states. The work of the first grant was adapted and expanded by three subsequent ATE grants. The impact of these projects has grown in technical breadth and geographical extent to include all of photonics technology and teachers and faculty from Maine to Hawaii.