The Contest: What Will You Do for IYL 2015?

The Contest: What Will You Do for IYL 2015?
Congratulations to the winners!

Petronela Gheorghe, INFLPR OSA Student Chapter, Romania - Researchers' Night Event


Researchers' Night EventMy name is Petronela, and I’m working in Nonlinear and Information Optics Laboratory at National Institute for Laser, Plasma and Radiation Physics, Bucharest – Magurele, Romania. In September 2015, I want to participate with my colleagues from INFLPR OSA Student Chapter at the “Researchers Night” event which took place outside, in the city center of Bucharest, Romania. This is a very significant event and an opportunity for anybody to become a “scientist” for a night. The “Researchers Night” is a worldwide event which takes place every year, simultaneously, in about 300 cities and it’s dedicated to popular science and fun learning. Often considered a school activity or a family event, the Researchers' Night attracts people of all ages who want to know more about light and science. By bringing researchers directly into contact with the public, the event aims to show the importance of research in society and to show people the impact of science in daily life. Encouraging more young people to choose a career in research is essential for Europe's future, which is increasingly dependent on innovation in products, services and business models. The participants have the opportunity to meet researchers, talk to them, and find out what they really do for society, they can also be involved into ad-hoc experiments. There are some simple experiments organized for children who illustrate the properties of light (reflection, refraction, absorption, dispersion, diffraction, interference, polarization). INFLPR OSA Student Chapter will organize a stand where experiments will attract many curious participants. We made a presentation about OSA, INFLPR and optics, which will be projected on a screen during the event. At the end of the event, INFLPR OSA Student Chapter will organize a raffle with prizes which consist of small “toys” that will help the participants discover the properties of light. During the event we will also organize a photo competition. The selected pictures must illustrate a phenomenon of nature able to make visible the properties of light. Last year, “Researchers' Night” attracted more than 7 000 visitors, including 5 500 children and this year we expect this number to increase. The event is a good opportunity for the members of OSA Student Chapter to work together and change ideas. It is also a good opportunity to promote our Chapter and recruit new members.


James Rademaker, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, USA - Laser Piano

Laser PianoWe propose the construction of a laser piano that uses basic principles of optics. Our debut performance will feature the song “We are the World” by Michael Jackson. The piano will be isometric to a grand piano, having laser beams instead of strings to control the generation of sound through the laws of reflection, refraction, and diffraction. The completed design will be made available online as open source content so that others may emulate and utilize our design. The piano will be showcased through several local performances at colleges and public locations, and videos of the music will be uploaded to online platforms. Before each performance the piano design and its principle of operation will be briefly explained. We will also post our design and development process, as well as its technical implementation, online. In this way our design will align with IYL goals in the proliferation of optical knowledge. In the interest of community outreach, we intend to exhibit the piano in various venues in addition to online platforms and social media. Locations of primary interest include, but are not limited to parks, middle schools and high schools, and museums. In this way, the instrument will be widely accessible to the public as an educational tool. Through public performances, it is our hope to inspire interest in the growing field of optics. Using three laser colors, beam splitters, and sensors, the “keyboard” will be constructed. With a few light sources, diffraction gratings, prisms and detectors we can make a laser piano which employs a number of simple optical phenomena to replace mechanical piano strings with optical ones. Each propagating light path is associated with a musical note. Photodetectors will receive the beam, and an interruption of a beam will be interpreted as an electrical signal. The microcontroller will then compute and play the musical note corresponding to the input signal. We are a group of five optical engineering students working on different optics projects at the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Indiana, USA. We represent a vested interest in the future of optics as enabling technology in our world community. Collaborators: Sanaz Faryadras, Michael Grayson, Benjamin Hall, James Rademaker, Daniel Spoor

Saikrishna Reddy, OSA Student Chapter at IIT Madras, India - School Outreach Programs

School Outreach ProgramsBackground of OSA Student Chapter in Chennai: We are OSA student chapter at IIT Madras, graduate and undergraduate students working in various fields of optics and photonics who are fascinated by Light, Light based technologies and its importance of solving problems of 21st century. To spread the importance of Light in our lives we need to "catch them young". So we choose to reach as many schools as possible and make them fascinated with our simple demonstrations about applications of Light in their lives. Motivation of this proposal: We have been visiting schools as part of OSA outreach activities with our optics educational kit. We have been getting excellent response and they are asking us to come again and again. The school teachers are also asking us for the demonstration kits, so as to improve the effectiveness of the class room teaching. But due to limited funding we are not able to provide them. We visited 10 schools in different parts of the country in past 3 years and reached at least 2000 high school students. We would like to use International Year of Light celebrations as an opportunity to reach even more underprivileged schools and also provide them with educational kits. Details of the Proposal: The schools in India are either run by Government or private managements. We have noticed from our experience that the privately-managed schools find funds to incorporate experiential learning in their curriculum while the Government-run schools mostly find it difficult to provide the same experience. In the past, most of the schools request us to leave behind the demonstration kits in the schools for future use, but we have not been able to do that due to lack of funds. Our educational kit includes demonstration of properties of light like Interference and diffraction and, Total internal reflection, Polarization of light and their applications in optical technologies such as LCD display. We are currently developing more demonstration kits with new experiments (based on the feedback from the teachers received) to include. We are ready to submit a detailed report on experiments if required. The development cost for each kit is currently around 10$. Funding is the only thing that limits the number of schools we can reach. Our chapter has strength of 40 active members and more enthusiastic graduate and undergraduate students who are ready to volunteer and spend their time on weekends to reach out schools around our city of Chennai in India. Expected Outcome: In addition to demonstrations that we have been doing for high school students (10th, 11th 12th standard) from now on wards we are also planning to address all school students about major events in optics and their anniversaries, importance of 2015 for choosing as “International Year of Light” . With the prize money of this contest we can make 50 such kits and reach at least 25 schools which imply a total number of at least 10,000. We also would like to make it even bigger scale if further funding is available.

Pedro Vallejo-Ramirez, University of Rochester, USA - Solar Catenary Reflectors


Solar Catenary ReflectorsIn the international Year of Light, I want to explore the applications of low-cost solar concentrators, specifically of Solar Catenary Reflectors. A catenary is the shape that a chain will form under its own weight when hung between two supporting structures. Catenaries occur in nature in the threads of a spider web, and in man-made structures such as hanging bridges and power transmission lines. By hanging a flexible sheet of reflective material between two supports, it will assume the shape of a catenary and will concentrate incoming rays from the sun by virtue of basic optical principles. We can collect this energy either using a solar cell to convert it to usable electricity, or we can use the light directly to boil up water for cooking, for example. It is a low-cost, easy to build (and to maintain) application that in the future could help increase accessibility to solar energy and promote its use in our every day activities.


Perla Viera-Gonzalez, Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, Mexico – The Nights with Light

The Nights with LightHello! My name is Perla and I’m a Physic Student from the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, I live in Monterrey, a Mexican city in Nuevo León. I work in Optics since 2011 but, since 2010 I organize outreach events with the OSA and SPIE Student Chapters of my University. Also, I’m part of a small group of students (Física Pato2) that make Physic demonstrations with students and teachers of kindergarten, elementary school, middle school and high school in Nuevo León; but we love teaching Optics more than any other field of Physics. I help with the organization of Congress, Conferences and, well, I’m always trying to do anything that help to involve more people in the world of Science! I called my idea “The Nights with Light” because I want offer free Optics demonstrations during night in public places on behalf of the IYL 2015. This is my plan: 1) Purchase some lasers, phosphorescent and fluorescent paints, office supplies, folding tables, a folding canopy and more items in local stores in my city and online stores, as Kosmos Scientific (, costume shops and DIY stores. 2) Talk with my partners of the group “Física Pato2” and ask them for the Outreach devices and materials that we use during our events as the laser maze, the lens kit, the giant kaleidoscope, the black lights and other cool stuff. 3) Using the materials purchased and the ones of the group “Física Pato2”, I’m planning several Outreach events during the year, once or twice per month, in public places in Nuevo León. Some of the places that we are considering are the esplanade of my University (UANL) at the “Ciudad Universitaria” Campus, “Colegio Civil”, “Fundidora” Park, “Macroplaza”, “Santa Lucia” Riverwalk and others, I’ll choose different locating along the year. The events will be doing during the night, taking advance of the dark for create better demonstrations. 4) I’ll prepare a schedule for the year with different content for the presentations, looking with this have the chance to show different phenomena and trying to increase the interest of the people who attends. The attendees won’t see always the same. 5) During each event, my partners and I will teach basic light phenomena as reflection, polarization, phosphorescence, fluorescence, diffraction, combination of colors, waves and its characteristics, the human eye function, lenses, mirrors and more. Additionally, we’re going to show amazing optical illusions because everybody loves them! The demonstrations and experiments will be interactive with the purpose of involve kids and youth in our Optics experiments and demonstrations that will show the Science is interesting, fun and terrific! I want that families participate during the demonstrations with the idea that not only the children, also their parents, enjoy and learn about the light, its uses and its importance in our lives. The Science is better if you learn it having a good time with your family! I’ll work in collaboration with my partners Guillermo and Gustavo (part of the group of Outreach Science “Física Pato2”), the “Noticiero Bisontes” team (a scholar newspaper in Facebook that covers special events at the Facultad de Ciencias Físico Matemáticas with a big audience) and other students and organizations of the Facultad de Ciencias Físico Matemáticas and the Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León. I want do “The Nights with Light” because I believe that it’s possible involve a lot of people of different ages; I’m waiting at least 50 attendees per event, then, we could reach between 600 and 1200 persons or more.