Photonics technology – the practical application of light – is one of the most pervasive and important new technologies of the twenty-first century. PHOTON addressed photonics education on a number of fronts. Of primary importance was increasing the number of teachers who had the knowledge and skills to teach photonics technology. Although ATE programs are focused on two-year colleges, PHOTON recognized that the pipeline of college students starts well before college admission, perhaps even before secondary school. For this reason, project PHOTON included middle and high school teachers as well as college faculty. This cross-grades collaboration resulted in the development of educational pathways in science education to help students achieve as they progressed through the educational system. Project PHOTON also included guidance counselors in the professional development workshops. Counselors gained new knowledge on available career options and provided outreach to students interested in math, science and technology careers.

A key feature of PHOTON was that schools needed to apply as regional educational alliances of at least one high school and one college, plus a middle school if possible. These alliances were successful at sharing knowledge and resources, strengthening connections with industry partners, and solving a variety of implementation problems.

PHOTON Outcomes:

  • 39 schools participated, with teachers from middle schools, high schools and community colleges.
  • A mentored email Listserv was established that is still active today with more than 100 education and industry members.
  • Eight optics instructional modules were produced for classroom use, the beginnings of what became a 15 chapter textbook. (Link to textbook)
  • The FOTEP lab kit was expanded to include components for experiments with lasers.
  • 25 laboratory experiments in basic & applied optics were developed and field-tested.
  • A series of 13 optics-focused “Explorations” suitable for middle school science labs were developed.
  • PHOTON Projects Connect Industry, Academia and Government, Author Fenna Hanes, et al, Photonics Spectra, September 2013
  • Three community colleges established industry partnerships, including materials donations, co-op jobs for students, industry scholarships for students, and industry participation on college advisory committees.
  • 14 high schools established industry partnerships including part-time jobs for students, plant tours, and industry participation on school advisory boards.
  • High schools and local community colleges created stronger bonds leading to joint activities such as field trips, job shadowing, photonics activities at career days, and fellow teacher training in photonics by project participants.








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