Escaping The Weather To Learn More About Optics

By University of Oregon OSA Chapter

The University of Oregon Student Chapter of the OSA lit up the University of Oregon campus on Saturday, December 3rd for the first ever Optics Holiday Bash. Student members organized an outreach event to celebrate The Optical Society’s 100th anniversary in 2016 with funding from the Centennial Special Events Grant. The purpose of the outreach activity was to engage the community by having them actively participate and learn about the applications of optics in the past 100 years. Schools in the Eugene, Springfield and Bethel districts were sent a copy of the flyer and the event was published in local community calendars. An advertisement was placed in the Register Guard to encourage folks of all backgrounds to join in. People of all ages had the opportunity to interact with several light and optics demos, enter the dark room to learn more about light, and watch a live chemistry show. All children attendees were given a raffle ticket to win one of eight optics kits and a light-up OSA 100th Anniversary pin. The primary location of this event was hosted in Willamette Hall Atrium, a stunning open space decorated with sculptures and designs representing physics, chemistry, biology, and astronomy.

Participants leisurely rotated through seven stations setup around the atrium: fun with jello lenses, strain in plastics and birefringence, cloaking device, introduction to circuits with playdough, disappearing test tubes, refraction experiments with light blox kits and Google cardboard virtual reality. Undergraduate and graduate students ran these interactive demos and showed off some neat tricks. Kids had fun playing with circuits that they could connect as they wished with playdough to make a speaker play music and light bulbs glow. One graduate student let people bend and squeeze plastic forks under a polarizer to show them how the tension on the fork changed. Several kids and adults got their fingers sticky with jello cutting out concave and convex lenses of different thicknesses. People were won over by the virtual reality table where they were able to escape a rainy Eugene day through a couple lenses and a smartphone. Users flew through different locations with the Google Maps simulation or ventured into the Arctic. Three lucky winners were also able to take home a virtual reality kit. Every hour volunteers put on a chemistry demonstration with glowing solutions and fire that captivated audiences. After the chemistry demo, participants were encouraged to venture into the dark room, where several students gave a ten-minute presentation on spectroscopy. Students also used color lights to educate audiences about light addition and subtraction which is featured in movies to create a special feeling or effect.

During the event, attendees were able take a break on nearby tables to enjoy pizza and refreshments as well as a giant slice of anniversary cake. In the spirit of the holiday season, everyone could choose to decorate one of several gingerbread cookies designs. As a souvenir, families could get their picture taken in front of a fireplace and Christmas tree with the chapter’s polaroid camera. The student chapter hopes this little party favor will draw a larger crowd next year and that the Optics Holiday Bash becomes an annual event. The Optics Holiday Bash was very successful in promoting optics and teaching the Eugene community about light. The University of Oregon Student Chapter of the OSA received several invitations to do optics and light demos at local libraries and in classrooms. Additionally, thanks to this event several undergraduates showed interest in joining the OSA chapter and the UO student group will do more to promote membership among undergraduate students.


Posted: 14 December 2016 by University of Oregon OSA Chapter | with 0 comments

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