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SPIE and OSA Awarded $1.7 Million Grant to Implement National Science Education Program for Middle School Students: Hands-On Optics: Making an Impact with Light.

Business Editors/Education Writers

BELLINGHAM, Wash.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 3, 2003

SPIE -- The International Society for Optical Engineering and the Optical Society of America (OSA), along with Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA) and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), have been awarded a $1.7 million grant from the National Science Foundation to implement a national middle school science education program, Hands-On Optics: Making an Impact with Light (HOO).

HOO is a three-year informal science program designed to bring optics education to tens of thousands of underserved students nationwide. A key to the program is its focus on actively connecting optics industry volunteers with teachers and individual students. The program will reach out to females and minority groups who typically are not adequately represented in the science and technology workforce. Sample activities include building a kaleidoscope, building a pinhole camera, and creating holograms.

"We are confident that fostering an interest in science at an early age will help supplement the ranks of future optical engineers, those who will fulfill the promise of the 'century of the photon,'" said Eugene Arthurs, SPIE Executive Director.

OSA Executive Director Elizabeth Rogan emphasized, "HOO is truly a unique program targeting scientific activities not only at students in critical populations -- educationally disadvantaged, middle-school-aged learners -- but also their entire support network. Its activities will be geared towards actively involving parents, teachers and community volunteers in the learning process."

Based on recommendations from scientists, as well as science and technology educators and experts, the HOO program will consist of optics-related modules that will take place after school, during weekend sessions, and at summer camps or family workshops. Development of the pilot program is scheduled to begin this month.

NOAO will play a key role in training teachers and volunteers, and in developing the optics kits. MESA teachers will implement the program initially in California, Washington state and Arizona, and HOO will expand to selected sites across the country in 2005 and 2006.

"We are very pleased to partner with SPIE, OSA and NOAO to bring the study of this emerging science to our students," said MESA Executive Director Michael Aldaco. "MESA has more than 30 years of experience working with educationally disadvantaged students

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SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering is dedicated to advancing scientific research and engineering applications of optical, photonic, imaging, and optoelectronic technologies through its meetings, education programs, and publications.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Oct 3, 2003
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