Tuesday, October 11, 2016

UL SPIE & European Researchers' Night: Exploring Science Whilst Having Fun

As a part of an international society advancing an interdisciplinary approach to the science and application of light, it was our pleasure to take a part in the European Reasearchers’ Night events. All the event took place simultaneously on Friday, 30 September, in over 250 cities across Europe and neighbouring countries, including Riga, Latvia. Our University of Latvia SPIE (UL SPIE) Student Chapter had even three spots across Riga - in the premises of University of Latvia Faculty of Physics and Mathematics, UL Academic Center of Natural Sciences and Institute of Atomic Physics and Spectroscopy. With family, friends, schoolmates or on their own, visitors could become a scientist for a day, participate in science activities and, most of all, have fun!

An unique moment with an upcoming scientist and Tesla ball

During these outreach activities, demonstrations for all ages were showed. We had a great chance to introduce visitors with optical phenomena such as:

  • Where art meets Physics by T. Jaunzemis
    Refractive index of light and how to use it to create waveguides and to hide objects within liquids of similar refractive indices.
  • Using a digital microscope people could look at things a little closer. Seeing their skin, clothes, phone screens and much more, about 50 times bigger was especially exciting for little kids, who just wanted to investigate everything around them.
  • Demonstrating different polarization effects with the help of two sheets of linearly polarized materials, showing how ordinary plastic changes from see-through to rainbow colored.
  • With the help of a Tesla ball and a fluorescent light bulb, explaining the effects of gas excitation how light is created in these light bulbs.
  • Refraction, reflection and color demonstrations which were conducted using different lights and lenses from the Light Blox Kit.
  • A fluid flowing through a microfluidics channel and containing polystyrene microspheres was demostrated. Laser diffraction around the microspheres was observed. The visitors were introduced to the principles of phase retrieval from intensity measurements.

Demonstrations with polarization and light reflection

Thanks to the SPIE support, i.e., Education Outreach Grant, we could make this even better by impacting visitors, including upcoming science students, and increasing optics and photonics awareness.

To find out more about our activities during the event, please take a look at our photo-story available in our social network.
Looking forward to seeing you again next year!

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