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Innovation and entrepreneurship lunches

5During Wednesday’s lunchtime on April 26, the Line of Light auditorium was crowded with 80 bachelor, master and PhD students interested to hear about optics and photonics technologies in the “Lunch with Industry” event. After grabbing a sandwich with soda, they focused their attention firstly to Peter Skovgaard, CEO and Co-founder from Norlase, and later to Sidsel Petersen, representing NKT Photonics company. Peter made a short overview of how their novel high-power visible laser technology allowed them to become a promising start-up company with a vision to outperform currently leading solutions available on the market. Sidsel, on the other hand, shared the vision and perspective of NKT Photonics – one of the leaders in the market of high performance fiber and laser technologies. She was generous enough to bring some of the examples of industrial photonic crystal fiber products, components, and materials used in fabrication.
…Thanks to Norlase and NKT Photonics for shedding some light on current status of the laser industry!

A week later, on Friday 5, serial entrepreneur David Hardwick gave the talk “Science for profit and fun in the laser industry” accompanied by Prof. Jes Broeng. The duo addressed entrepreneurship, and shed light on some of the best ways to start a business in an effort to inspire students with innovation dreams.
David Hardwick is co-founder and Chairman of Norlase and Fauna Photonics in Denmark and an investor and advisor at BiFrost Communications. David is a past member of the Optical Society of America (OSA) Board and the OSA Foundation. He is a consultant to IMRA America and other companies in the industry.
During this event, everybody got a chance to pick the two entrepreneurs’ brains at the following discussion and plenty of opportunity to mingle. What a great afternoon!

Outreach towards secondary and primary schools

img_20170516_100930We have introduced phenomena, concepts and materials in the fields of optics and materials science to students of secondary and primary schools.
Activities have been carried out both at schools and at University of Calabria and in both cases they have been divided into (i) simple experiments and demos and (ii) simple lessons.
Some lessons have been necessary in order to give them the minimal background in order to understand the simple experiments. However, we have started with experiments since we have noticed that in this way the lessons are found more interesting and funny by the students. In other words, the students are more interested in understanding what they have just seen that the reverse. In any case, the lessons to explain the concepts behind physical phenomena have been organized with in mind the requirement to be interactive and funny.
The first experiments organized directly at schools were focused on light (light-emitting devices and light propagation). In the last meetings, we have even introduced the nanoworld with simple demos.
Some new experimental apparatuses for outreach have been shown at students and successively described in most basic details, with a particular emphasis for the potential application fields of the topic. We have used also some videos in order to stimulate the visual memory of the students.
For the case of primary schools, we have shown how colors are formed with very simple considerations to support the experiment.
A discussion with students of secondary schools about the prospect of nanotechnology and nanoscience has been also organized. During the visit at University of Calabria, we have presented with simple words the new facilities on nanospectroscopy and nanomaterials recently installed at our University and their possible connection to the technological applications. In this case, we have formulated in a much simpler way (for secondary schools) the most intriguing concepts that have been discussed in the Seminar Activity of our EPS-YM section, instead oriented toward undergraduate and PhD students.
During the visit to the University, the students have been invited to participate actively to a low-energy electron diffraction experiment unveiling the position of atoms at surfaces of topological materials. Subsequently, a short and simple discussion to understand why the last Nobel prize for Physics has been awarded to studies on topological materials.
Refreshments with some beverages and snacks have been offered after each meeting to the students and to teachers. We acknowledge both teachers and local administrations who have nicely supported us in all the phases of the project.

Physics for everyone LIVE

jet-quenchingPrimarily we designed this program for primary and secondary school pupils. During the day the kids could choose several type of activities. We cooperated with some academic teachers from Eötvös Loránd University and Budapest University of Technology and Economics, that gave some lectures about Cosmology, Big Bang Theory and etc. Besides these lectures we wanted to show some interesting physics experiments from the everyday physics and modern physics, like how to use apps for measuring the sound intensity, and how to make ice cream with liquid nitrogen, and we had a self-made cloud chamber. During this time some of our people made some spectacular explosions in the yard. We considered it is important to speak about the new energy resources, so we made a special corner for the fusion power, with the help of the guys from the Wigner Research Center. During these activities the Wigner Research Center made available for us their moving experimental station (the all-colour of Physics bus). This is an interactive exhibition about the wide range of physics of nanostructures. We had more than one thousand visitors just in the University, it is twice as much as last year, and we have more than ten thousand visitors across country because many school joined to our program . After the event we asked the visitors what they thought about the activities. We got many positive responses, and i think in this event we learned a lot about the technics of of presentation and any other skill so we can do this better next year.

We have some pictures in here : https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4R1tDrTxGkWQWJKc0gwbHFOM2c

Fun with physics – demonstrations in kindergarten

1-fun-with-physicsWithin our formed WrUT EPS Young Minds section all of our members have the experience in the outreach field. We have been very successful in that area in the OSA & SPIE student chapters, that is why we wanted to introduce these kind of activity in the newly form section.
This project was a big success. There wasn’t any problem in changing the scope of our lectures from optics to basic physics. For children in primary school and especially in preschool every scientific presentation is a lot of fun. It also brings to them an inspiration to thinking about the experiment, its result and asking question. As from our observation these children who cannot ask any question react in a special way, on their face you can see at the beginning surprise with disbelief, after that they want to repeat the experiment by their own. When they finally convince their self that experiment show true result they have more curiosity to see and experience another demonstration, which is one of our goal to increase the interest of our physical world.
We carried out demonstrations in one of the biggest kindergarten connected with the primary school in Wroclaw, Poland. The number of attendees where around 80 children (4 groups with around 20 children in each). Our presentation was divided for parts related with air, water, light and balance. At the end some of the children wanted to bring few experiments back again to demonstration, because of their high attraction, so we combined the topics.
In our opinion this project was a success. We increased the children’s curiosity of the physical world, their also trained the ability to perform some of the experiments by their own. The challenge of searching discussed phenomena in their surrounding world went also well. We had a bit of problems with the team work, because all the kids wanted to do the experiment at one time, but for us it was an opportunity to gain some teaching experience. We don’t see any problem to repeat such project in the future if our members will bring the will to do so.

Open Readings – YM BAA 2017


60th international conference for students of physics and natural sciences “Open Readings 2017” took place on 14-17th of March, 2017 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The conference gathered more than 300 presenters from 20 different countries all-around Europe while creating an interactive platform for sharing knowledge, scientific results and best practices in the fields of physics and natural sciences.

The four day conference was full of activities, including but not limited to the mentioned students’ oral and poster sessions, workshop on scientific publishing and discussion on career in science, but, of course, the highlight of the conference were the invited speakers – world-known scientists, top of the top in their fields:
  • Prof. Ben Feringa (Netherlands) – 2016 Nobel Prize laureate in Chemistry, h-index: 103;
  • Prof. John Ellis (UK) – one of the most known theoretical physicist working at CERN, h-index: 150;
  • Prof. Philip Russell (Germany) – former president of OSA and leader in the field of photonic crystal fibers, h-index: 86;
  • Prof. Michael Graetzel (Switzerland) – Millennium Technology Prize laureate, 3rd most cited chemist in the world, h-index: 207;
  • Prof. Xi-Cheng Zhang (USA) – one of the best known researchers of THz technologies, h-index: 70;
  • Prof. Eugenio Coccia (Italy) – co-author of the gravitational waves discovery, h-index: 43;
  • Prof. Naomi Halas (USA) – one of the leaders in the field of plasmonics and the use of nanoparticles in cancer treatment, h-index: 106.
  • Prof. Robin Lovell-Badge (UK) – active scientist and policy maker in the field of genetics, h-index: 66;
  • Prof. Frederik Clayessens (UK) – novel material creator by using various light sources, h-index: 23;
The importance to motivate young minds to pursue their scientific path is of an extreme importance, the students are the force who is pushing the motors of science. It seems that taking attention of over 5000 science enthusiasts coming to the conference venue and watching lectures online – let’s us make the assumption the conference did it’s job. It was the biggest scientific conference in the Lithuania.

The full program and more pictures of the event can be found at: http://www.openreadings.eu/

Science fairs & Interactive lectures

WarsawWarsaw University of Technology EPS Young Minds Section organised and participated in several events aiming to promote physics and science among children and local community. Physics can be fun and very attractive for young kids. Thanks to a grant from EPS, WUT section was able to demonstrate great new experiments adjusted to the age of participant. WUT EPS organised a visit to the local kindergarten with a fairytale full of optical phenomena. Kids were learning, while having a good time.
The section attended also the biggest outdoor science fair in Europe: “Science Picnic of Polish Radio and The Copernicus Science Centre” at the National Stadium in Warsaw.
It is Europe’s largest outdoor event aimed to promote science. Every year, it attracts crowds (over 100 thousand) of visitors to Warszawa. Scientific institutions, universities, research institutes, museums, cultural institutions, and foundations related to science and science clubs present their achievements and reveal the behind-the-scenes aspects of their everyday work. This year’s theme was: “Health and inventions”, so we tried to show how light-based technologies are used in medicine.
Next event the Warsaw section attended was organised by Warsaw University of Technology. It was an educational picnic “From micro to macro” for kids mainly from primary schools.
In september section organised a game: “Rycerze koherencji: W poszukiwaniu gargulca” and a lecture on holography, as a part of Warsaw Festival of Science.
The target of this event was students from primary and secondary school. A game in which the participants under the pretext of searching Gargoyle learn about the phenomenon, and devices used in optical measuring, among others, interferometry, thermal imaging, 3D scanning and luminescence. The lecture was prepared for older audience, so everyone could find something for themselves.

Sounds right? Sounds good!

Trieste4Besides the various big science events that take place in Trieste, we believe it is important to bring
scientific dissemination to the general public also in its every day life. For this reason, we like to
organize events in pubs, to talk about science in a relaxed setting. Last summer, we had a talk
entitled “Sounds right? Sounds good!” about the physics of music at a pub, just before a local band
played some good music. With the help of a guitar and a string, we talked about how music is
described by waves, what spectral range we humans are able to hear and what the role of
harmonics is in the characteristics of the various music instruments.

Mini Maker Faire – Science Picnic

Trieste3Trieste has a very high concentration of research centres. This results in various big scientific events,
which gather people from the institutes and university to present their activity to the general
public. Among these events there are the Mini Maker Faire and the Science Picnic, which in 2016
took place consecutively at the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, in which we took part
with our own stand. There, we presented to the public facts about space science and the Solar
System. We had 3D-printed models of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and of the ESA Rosetta
probe, paper models of the Rosetta probe to give out to kids, posters on the Solar System and a
binocular, which projected on a cardboard the Sun and a solar spot.
Besides our stand, we had many time-slots to present our talks on the physics of music (“Sounds
right? Sounds good!”), the ESA Rosetta mission, the measurement of the cosmic microwave
background, and the observation of the sky in the infrared spectral range from the Antartic and
from space. In more detail, the measurement of the CMB was discussed with the aid of guitar, to
present it in analogy to the description of waves on a string. The talk on the observation of the
infrared sky was, instead, in the form of a double talk with two speakers, each arguing in favour of
his preferred kind of location.
The number of people reached in these events is large, since these attract people both from the city
and from the whole Friuli-Venezia Giulia region. The total number of visitors to the Mini Maker Faire
has been estimated by the organizers to be 18000. Given its success, we will participate also in the
2017 edition.

Waves in physics and beyond

Trieste1The recurrence in Trieste activities of the role of waves in physics motivated us to develop a more in-depth activity on waves. For this reason, we asked the Young Minds Project to finance the building of an educational model of spectrometer. Such spectrometer fits in a larger educational/outreach unit, in which we present to students and the general public the spectral analysis of waves.
The concept of spectrum and of Fourier analysis is first introduced with a well-known object, the tuning fork. With the aid of a smartphone app, it is possible to show various aspects of sound waves, like the origin of harmonics and the spectrum of the human voice.
After the introduction of the concepts via sound waves, the spectral analysis of light allows to introduce more advanced concepts. A spectrometer allows, in fact, to see that not all light that appears as white is the same. Light from a light bulb, from a smartphone flashlight, or from discharge lamps can be shown to be different, introducing the concept of quantized energy levels in the atoms, in analogy with the discrete spectrum of a tuning fork.

This outreach unit was used for the first time in the context of a week-long college fair for 32 high school students visiting the Physics Department. In that occasion, we could use a spectrometer borrowed from a laboratory, to show the students how the spectra from the various sources look like. Afterwards, the students measured the spectrum of mercury with the home-built educational spectrometer, which is composed by a prism and a photodiode on a mechanical translator. Such rudimentary spectrometer is very useful from an educational point of view, since it allows the students to identify the key aspects in the measurement of a spectrum, such as a collimated incoming light beam and darkness in the lab. During the activity, the students were asked to answer a set of questions.

On the basis of our simple spectrometer, we are now supervising a high school student in her final-year project, for which she is building a more advanced educational spectrometer, whose draft layout is reported in the picture. This consists of a diffraction grating obtained from a DVD and a webcam sensor. While this spectrometer will be a closed-box instrument and will not be a hands-on object like the one described above, it allows to rapidly measure spectra. In the context of this student’s project, it will be used to measure the spectrum of differently coloured leaves.

We are also setting up a collaboration with a school in our region to prepare an experimental educational unit for high school students on thermal radiation and on the quantization of the atomic energy levels. Our estimate is that this will make us indirectly reach 40 students per year, since the class will be repeated every school year.

Finally, we are designing an object to illustrate the phenomenon of diffraction by a lattice. In particular, a lattice made of air balloons can produce a sound-waves diffraction pattern, in which people can literally walk.

Glasgow Science Festival and the European Researchers’ Night

SCOPE1This past year SCOPE took part in the two main events for science outreach held in the city of Glasgow.
– Glasgow Science Festival (June).
During one weekend the Kelvingrove Museum in Glasgow hosts researchers from various fields to interact with the general public. It is an excellent opportunity for SCOPE to be able to explain different physical phenomena to everyone interested. This year the title of our activity was “Spilling the beams of light”. With a number of demonstrations and hands-on experiments for children and the entire family we explained how light works. The goal of our show was to cover the key features and properties of light, from understanding how the eye works to holograms. We also included several devices (polarizers, prisms, colours, 3D glasses..), each illustrating different phenomena. Four different set-ups were proposed, attracting around 250 people, mostly families with young children (aged 4-14).
– European Researcher’s Night ¨Explorathon” (September).
“A kingdom of optical illusions” was the title of our activity, and alongside other researchers from different fields, we organized hands-on activities aimed at younger children and families. With our demonstrations we wanted to cover some key features and properties of light, by using holograms, 3D glasses and plasma lamps.
The feedback for both activities has been very positive and the overall experience was excellent.
The 3D glasses workshop continues to be one of the most attractive activities, where children have the occasion to build their own glasses and play with them watching a short 3D movie as well as 3D pictures. Besides learning, children had fun with cutting and gluing their own glasses that they could take home afterwards.
All experiments were handled with kind assistance from the coordinators of the Science Festival and Explorathon, as well as volunteers from the University of Strathclyde’s Physics department and the Institute of Photonics.