PHOTON2 Project

PHOTON2, a three-year project begun in 2003, gave educators the necessary skills and resources to implement and teach photonics courses by producing an introductory textbook and other curricula materials (link to “curricula materials” webpage) and a distance-learning program (link to distance-learning webpage) for educators.

A unique feature of PHOTON2 was the establishment of Alliances between local high schools and colleges to provide seamless integration between their STEM curricula. Educators from eight geographic locations were brought together to facilitate photonics technology education in their local institutions to develop educational pathways for students. The Alliances consisted of four to six participants per region, including high school and two- and four-year college science, technology, engineering, and math instructors, as well as their institution’s career counselors and industry partners.

Project Results (highlighted resources accessible below):

  • Web-based professional development course, “Introduction to Photonics.
  • “Introduction to Distance-Learning” workshop designed to introduce participants to web-based learning environments.
  • Instructional materials, including a 15 chapter textbook, Light – Introduction to Optics and Photonics.
  • A field-tested, industry-quality laboratory equipment kit, with 25 exercises and lab demo videos.
  • 13 introductory explorations.
  • Career guidance resource materials designed for career and guidance counselors.
  • Support by local industry for instructors and students.
  • Local, paid summer internships in the photonics industry during 2005 and 2006 for teachers and counselors.
  • A capstone “Showcase” workshop in 2006 held in collaboration with SPIE.
  • A nationwide listserv consisting of photonics educators, career and guidance counselors, industry mentors, and professional optics-related societies.

PHOTON2 Project Funding
Photon 2 was funded through a three-year grant from the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program of the National Science Foundation (NSF).  Project PHOTON2 built on the highly successful “Alliance” model developed during the previous Project PHOTON.

Teachers’ Resources

Below is a compendium of various teaching resources available through this website, developed by the PHOTON Project Principal Investigators and project participants.

Textbook | The Challenges | Lab Materials | Listserv | Career Materials | Other


LIGHT – Introduction to Optics and Photonics by Judith Donnelly and Nicholas Massa.

  • This 15 chapter textbook, produced as part of the PHOTON and PHOTON2 projects, provides an introductory overview of optics principles and photonics applications suitable for beginning college students, high school juniors and seniors, technicians, and managers — anyone who wants to learn about optical science and photonics technology at the algebra/trigonometry level. Click here to order the book online.
  • We also have instructions for ordering textbooks using a purchase order for schools. Click here to see the instructions.(Microsoft Word doc format)

Glossary from the textbook LIGHT – Introduction to Optics and Photonics

  • An extensive glossary from the upcoming second edition of the textbook, available as an on-line resource. A PDF format is also available.

Book Review of the textbook LIGHT – Introduction to Optics and Photonics

  • A review of the textbook by James Masi, Professor Emeritus of Western New England College.

Solutions Manual for Textbook

  • A complete solutions manual for the numerical problems in the textbook is available. Please submit a written request on school letterhead to Fenna Hanes at NEBHE. Please enclose your school email address in the letter and we will email you a PDF of the manual.

The Challenges – Problem Based Learning Challenges in Photonics

Multi-Media Problem Based Learning Challenges

  • Problem Based Learning (PBL) is an educational method that engages students in inquiry based “real world” problem solving. The PHOTON PBL Project has created eight multi-media Challenges to provide teaching materials for a student-centered problem-solving method of instruction for photonics and optics units in both high school and college classes.

Educational Standards for the Challenges

  • The eight Challenges produced by the PHOTON PBL Project were matched to the US national Science, Technology, and Mathematics content standards and benchmarked for grades 9 – 12. Our goal is to provide teachers greater flexibility in incorporating one or more Challenges into an existing curriculum. Click here to access the PDFs of the Challenge Standards.

Teacher’s Implementation Guide to Using the PHOTON PBL Challenges (Coming Soon!)

  • The 24-page Implementation Guide contains information and advice on how teachers can utilize the multi-media Challenges in their classroom. To obtain the passwords needed to enter password protected sections on the Challenges website, submit a written request on school letterhead to Fenna Hanes at NEBHE. Please enclose your school email address in the letter and we will email you a PDF.

Lab Materials


  • A complete laboratory kit with industry-quality components and mounts as well as educational optics. The teacher’s manual detailing 25 lab experiments is listed below.

Supplemental Lab Kit

  • Combines with the PHOTON2 Lab Kit to provide greater flexibility in the classroom.

Teacher’s Manual for PHOTON2 Lab Kit Experiments (PDF format)

  • This 100 page manual contains 25 different labs that can be performed using the PHOTON2 Lab Kit. Demo videos showing each lab being performed listed below.

Videos of the PHOTON2 Lab Kit Experiments Demonstrations

  • Quick on-line videos which demonstrate each of the lab exercises that can be performed with the PHOTON2 Lab Kit. Total of 24 videos plus one photo gallery.

Explorations In Optics (PDF format)

  • The PHOTON Explorations are adapted from the favorite demonstrations and activities of PHOTON projects participants. This booklet illustrates how to quickly and inexpensively demonstrate various optics concepts. It describes 16 hands-on classroom activities and demonstrations that can be adapted for middle school through college level courses. These Explorations do not require a specific lab kit.

Videos of the Explorations in Optics Demonstrations

  • With funding from the Optical Society of America (OSA), students from the Theater and Communications Departments at Eastern Connecticut State University, Willimantic, CT, wrote the script, staged, performed and recorded videos for each of the PHOTON Explorations in Optics.
  • The videos are based on curriculum developed for each of the Explorations by Professor Judith F. Donnelly, Three Rivers Community College and Professor Nicholas M. Massa, PhD, Springfield Technical Community College, Springfield, MA.


The PHOTON email listserv is a virtual community of more than 100 high school and college educators and industry mentors who answer technical questions on optics and photonics science, applications and careers. Postings can include essential teaching materials, useful web links, and information on programs and grants. To sign up for the listserv, or for more information about it, please contact Fenna Hanes.

Career Materials

Other Materials

Other materials and links from other institutions.

  • Fiber Optic Communications Educational Toolkit (PDF Format) – A PowerPoint presentation (saved in PDF format) developed by Professors Akram Abu-aisheh and Jonathan Hill at the University of Hartford Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. It explains how to develop a low cost educational tool kit for teaching fiber optics to undergraduates and graduates. This lab supplement provides a new way to study the physical layer of high speed fiber optic communications systems.

General Links

  • TRCC Links Page – A treasure trove of links related to optics education from Three Rivers Community College.
  • Optics for KidsA website created by OSA with many age-appropriate activities and teaching resources, for kids of all ages!
  • List of Optics and Photonics Societies
  • TeachingTechnicians.orgA great collection of materials and resources for teachers. Contains both theoretical pedagogical materials as well as materials for in-class use.
  • Fiber Laser Application Transcript (PDF Format) – This transcript is of a presentation made during the PHOTON PBL July 2007 summer workshop at Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. The presenter was Christian Greig of IPG Photonics Corporation. He explains the process of choosing a laser and the laser parameters for a new laser manufacturing process. It also provides an excellent lesson on fiber lasers for material processing.
  • Molecular Expressions: Science, Optics and You – A site focused on image galleries of different types of microscopes. Also has timelines for optics history and biographies of famous optical pioneers under the ‘Science, Optics and You’ section.
  • Making Learning Real – The Making Learning Real website is about Problem-Based Case Learning (PBCL), similar to Problem Based Learning (PBL) teaching methods. Contains classroom tools and other resources. A collaboration between Nashville State Community College and the WGBH Educational Foundation.
  • Virtual Physics Lab – A web-board of different optics related applets at National Taiwan Normal University. Free registration is required.
  • THS Laser Safety Rules (PDF format) – A handout on general laser safety rules developed by the photonics department at Tantasqua Regional High School.


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