27 September 2016 From school classes to UNESCO: IYL-enabled environments for tackling the STEM skills shortage through student-led outreach
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The accepted industrial skills shortage in the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) in the United Kingdom has led to an increasing drive for universities to work with a wider pool of potential students. One contributor to this drive is the Lightwave Roadshow, a photonics-focused outreach program run by postgraduate students from the University of Southampton. The program has benefitted from the unique platform of the International Year of Light (IYL) 2015 for the development and support of hands-on and interactive outreach activities. In this report we review Lightwave activities facilitated by IYL that focused on widening participation for students aged 6 to 18 years from a multitude of societal categories; the roadshow has directly benefitted from the significance and investment into the IYL in conjunction with university recruitment strategies, local schools and the support of international organizations such as SPIE and OSA. Lightwave has used the foundation of the IYL to provide a wide range of activities for over 1,200 UK students in 53 different schools; the assessment tools used to measure learning outcomes, reach and impact are also discussed. The program’s activities have been developed to make younger age groups the center of the outreach activity and create an environment which encourages youth pursuit of optics and science from a grassroots level upwards; to illustrate this we will outline a Lightwave project endorsed by the IYL steering committee to permit two 6th form students to attend the IYL opening ceremony in Paris.
Conference Presentation
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Matthew T. Posner, Pearl V. John, Nicholas H. L. Wong, Vinita Mittal, Martin M. Nunez-Velazquez, "From school classes to UNESCO: IYL-enabled environments for tackling the STEM skills shortage through student-led outreach", Proc. SPIE 9946, Optics Education and Outreach IV, 994607 (27 September 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2238222; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2238222

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