Introduction to Project LITE
We are developing a suite of materials for use by undergraduates to learn about light. One is an optics kit with items carefully selected to be used interactively with the light emitted by a computer monitor controlled by a set of applets posted on the web at http://lite.bu.edu. Six “homelabs” utilizing these materials and software have been developed to date and trial tested at Boston University. They are about geometrical optics; diffraction; fluorescence and phosphorescence; color; polarization; and spectroscopy.
A second educational development focus is on spectroscopy. We are developing a software utility called the Spectrum Explorer that can help students learn about emission and absorption spectra; blackbody radiation, the Stefan-Boltzmann law and Wien's law; and their roles in astronomy, physics, chemistry and Earth science. We are also working on the development of two types of inexpensive spectrometers.
We have also developed a set of interactive applets that let students explore a wide range of phenomena involving visual perception. Many of the effects are controllable and/or involve elements of time or motion available on a computer that cannot be experienced using standard static presentations in books.