In India, the pedagogy of science education is “believe what text book says”. Providing schools with appropriate teaching materials to enhance teaching has always been a challenge in a developing country like India. Generally it is not possible for a normal school in India to afford the expensive teaching materials to teach through demonstrations and experiments. Thus students are forced to believe what text book says rather than learning concepts through experiments. The International School of Photonics SPIE (International Society for Optical Engineering) student chapter came up with ‘Optics kit’ to supplement the teaching of optics in school level. ‘Optics kit’, developed with indigenously procured components, could be sold at an affordable prize for an average Indian School. The chapter is currently selling the kit for less than $20. The content of the kit is at par with many kits already available commercially in developed countries, and the price is just 10% compared to those kits. The kit is aimed to higher secondary level students in India, where students are taught Ray optics and basics of Wave Optics. The content of the kit is developed based on this syllabus. The Optics Kit contains simple optical elements like lens, grating, polarizer, mirror, diode laser etc. The kit can be used to demonstrate optics phenomena like interference, diffraction, polarization etc. The kit was developed based on the feedback gathered by the chapter through its outreach activities. The syllabus for the kit was developed through thorough discussion with educational experts in the field of Physics. The student community welcomed the optics kit with overwhelming enthusiasm and hence the project proved to be successful in giving an opportunity for students to “See and Believe” what they are learning.
The education system of developing countries like India lack infrastructure for teaching science through demonstrations and experiments. The teaching of optics is generally based on factual data given in text books. Students are forced to believe natural phenomena without actually getting convinced themselves through observations. This imparts a big flaw in the way students understand and experience science. The International School of Photonics SPIE (International Society for Optical Engineering) Student chapter, in Cochin University of Science and Technology (CUSAT) in India comes up with their outreach activities, which is mainly aimed at giving hands on experience for school students with Optics. The pedagogy is completely in tune with the syllabus of Indian schools. This activity is being conducted by the students who are studying Photonics in University level. This gives the students a teaching experience as well. The outreach activity has been designed in two modes – Optics Fair & Optics to School. Optics Fair is a massive outreach program which has being conducted yearly since 2006. The two day event attracts more than 1500 school students as well as general public every year. The event is divided into three sections;-Primary, Secondary & Higher Secondary and the experiments are carefully chosen that the students will be able to appreciate them with their prior knowledge in optics. The basic idea put forward is “See and Believe”. In three years this event has become very popular attracting more and more students each year. The response received for these outreach activities is overwhelming. Program is successful in its mission to invoke curiosity and interest in students towards optics. Also within the given time constraint the program is able to give an insight of subject to students.