OSA Foundation Funds New Programs


Lyndsay Meyer
The Optical Society

OSA Foundation Funds New Programs

New programs bring the science of light to students around the world

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 – The Optical Society of America (OSA) Foundation Board of Directors recently approved funding for three new optics-related programs for 2007 through 2009.  These grants will provide funds for optics curriculum for EASTCONN, a non-profit education service center; for an optics education and hands-on demonstration program developed by the OSA Rochester (N.Y.) Local Section; and for the distribution of educational materials to developing nations.

“It is our core belief that all students should have access to quality science education and interactive scientific learning programs,” said Gary Bjorklund, chair of the OSA Foundation Board.  “These three new programs have a special emphasis on bringing the science of optics to school-aged children and introducing it in an exciting way. We couldn’t be more thrilled to support such high-quality, hands-on educational programs for students across the globe.”

Following is a description of the newly funded programs:

EASTCONN K-12 Optics Curriculum
EASTCONN is a non-profit regional education service center serving 36 school districts in mostly rural northeast Connecticut.  They provide educational programs for students and professional development workshops for teachers.  This grant would integrate optics into their current curriculum by providing funding for three years for four program components:  “Optics in the Classroom!” professional development workshops targeting 5th grade teachers and providing lesson plans to incorporate the science of light into their regular curriculum; Investigating the Night Time Sky (“Dark Skies”), a student program studying the effects of light pollution and designed to generate enthusiasm and interest in the upcoming Year of Astronomy; a lending library containing optics kits and educational resources available for districts with limited budgets; and scholarships for low-income teachers and districts to attend content-specific workshops or participate in outreach programs.

OSA Rochester Local Section Optics Education and Hands-on Demonstration Program
This grant provides funds for OSA's Local Section in Rochester, N.Y. to produce Optics Suitcases and Liquid Crystal Mood Patch Lessons.  The Optics Suitcase is a kit designed to bring hands-on optics activities to the classroom and includes reusable items for classroom presentations on color and light, as well as packets for students to take home, including liquid crystal paper, diffraction gratings and polarizers.  In the Liquid Crystal Mood Patch Lesson students make a temperature sensitive cholesterol-based liquid crystal. The grant will fund the production and distribution of materials for these programs, provide support for volunteers willing to travel to underserved areas and give presentations, and assist local groups/educators with finding a volunteer to help with the presentations.  This program has the potential to reach more than 4,000 students, grades K-8.   

Educational Materials for Developing Nations
This grant provides funding to fulfill requests for youth science educational resources from volunteers and educators residing in developing nations.  Available materials include: “Optics: Light at Work” (DVD), Terrific Telescopes, Optics Discovery Kit, “Laser Technology: Changing Daily Life, Forging New Opportunities” (DVD), and a multi-lingual poster series and lesson guides. 

These new programs are being funded in addition to current OSA Foundation-supported programs, which include youth science education grants for OSA Local Sections and Student Chapters; OSA student member travel grants and student professional development programming at Frontiers in Optics, OSA’s Annual Meeting; a collaboration with the Girl Scouts of the USA; optics lessons in Ghana and India; and translation of educational resources. The three new programs outlined above and the more than 115 programs supported by the OSA Foundation since 2002 maintain its larger mission of advancing youth science education, providing optics and photonics education to underserved populations, providing career and professional development resources, and supporting OSA’s Awards and Honors program.

About the OSA Foundation

The OSA Foundation was established in 2002 to support philanthropic activities that help further the Optical Society of America’s mission by concentrating its efforts on programs that advance youth science education, provide optics and photonics education to underserved populations, provide career and professional development resources and support OSA's Awards and Honors program. The grants funded by the OSA Foundation are made possible by the generous donations of its supporters as well as the dollar-for-dollar match by OSA. The Foundation is exempt from US federal income taxes under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and is a public charity. To learn more about the OSA Foundation or to find out how to donate, please visit www.osa-foundation.org or email foundation@osa.org.

About OSA

Uniting more than 70,000 professionals from 134 countries, the Optical Society of America (OSA) brings together the global optics community through its programs and initiatives. Since 1916 OSA has worked to advance the common interests of the field, providing educational resources to the scientists, engineers and business leaders who work in the field by promoting the science of light and the advanced technologies made possible by optics and photonics. OSA publications, events, technical groups and programs foster optics knowledge and scientific collaboration among all those with an interest in optics and photonics. For more information, visit www.osa.org.