Dumpster Optics – Teaching Optics with “Junk”
This is a set of nine one-to-two hour classroom lessons based in part on the Explorations in Optics and Optics Magic demonstrations below. Unlike the demonstrations, they are designed to engage students in several single-topic inquiry-based activities requiring hypotheses, experiment and conclusions. The lessons use commonly found supplies and they have been field tested with 4th through 8th grade students. Each lesson consists of a PowerPoint presentation with illlustrated instructions for students (some animated), an observation/data page for students and complete instructions for teachers, including what can go wrong and what to do if there’s a problem. The lessons have been translated into Spanish by graduate students at the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León in Mexico.
Explorations In Optics (The PHOTON project explorations) (PDF)
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. Video demonstrations are available.
Optics Magic! Easy Demonstrations from the PHOTON Projects (pdf) (Optics Magic Rev 3-2020)
Based in part on the PHOTON Explorations, these “magical” optics demonstrations include more information for teachers than the original PHOTON Explorations. It also includes an extensive list of suppliers for the few materials that are not commonly found in an average home. We did the Optics Magic workshop at many professional development venues from 2004-2012, including NSTA, AAPT, and SPIE conferences.
Optics Magic with Judy and Nancy– Eight webinars for pandemic home-bound parents, teachers and students
Series of webinars based on the above projects were offered to parents, students and teachers by Optica (formerly OSA) in 2020. Webinar recordings and answers to questions asked by participants are available at the above link.
These lessons were developed with outreach grants from SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics. Optics applications of mathematics from middle school through pre-calculus were developed by Judy Donnelly, co-PI of the PHOTON and PBL Projects, and Matthew Donnelly, Head of the Math Department at St. Bernard School in Montville, CT. Topics vary from geometry (pinhole images) to matrix methods (lens design). The materials used range from inexpensive common items to supplies one might find in a high school physics lab (e.g., meter stick optics bench) .
The PHOTON email listserv is a virtual community of 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 firstname.lastname@example.org