In the middle of the school holidays, school children had an opportunity to get to know the properties of optics through the practical experiments. London Gates Education Group organized a Summer City Camp. The City Camp consisted of topical lessons and educational games. The students were introduced with the laws of physics improvising and playing games in English.
Our University of Latvia SPIE (UL SPIE) Student Chapter member M.Sc. Tatjana Pladere was invited to held the Science Day for the students between 10 and 13 years. The aim of this event was to arouse interest in exact sciences, to encourage students to speak in English about scientific topics and to show how enthralling the science is.
At the beginning of the event on July 15 Tatjana introduced all the participants with the concept and idea of the International Year of Light, acquainted with the importance of light in our lives, and did experiments in order to discuss the properties of light.
Thanks to SPIE and donation to educational programs at the university, the UL SPIE Chapter delivered the educational outreach kits “Light Blox”. Students were excited to use them in order to make experiments. So they examined and discovered different light phenomena, such as diffraction, polarization, refraction, reflection and absorption. At first, student groups tried to discover and to understand the properties of light through the physical experiments, afterwards they presented the results to another groups. At the end Tatjana showed some extra tricks.
In addition, school children observed properties of different lenses and contacts, discovered liquid crystals’ response to temperature change by using liquid crystal plates. At the end of the event the participants blowed balloons with vinegar and baking soda, observed reaction between fats and “Fairy” and made small LED lamps for themselves.
All the activities provided a great experience for the school children:
- Participants could do experiments by themselves. They were used only to observe the experiments;
- Activities were held in English. For all the participants it was the first time when they were supposed to explain scientific topics in foreign language;
- Each experiment was discussed in details in order to explain the sense of the experiment. They understood what they had done, also prooved why it happened in that way.
Tatjana replied: “I was very pleased to observe that students were interested in studying the natural sciences. Furthermore, I was pleasantly surprised that children learned a lot by themselves. For instance, they already knew about visible light spectrum and about basic relations in electricity. I observed very talented students who would become true physicists. Participants recognized that optics can be observed everywhere in our lives, and they did not think about the importance of it before this event. Characteristics of visible light and lenses seemed self-evident, until they needed to be explained. I hope that their passion and curiosity will not decrease even when long calculations and “incomprehensible” formulas will start at school.”