Engaging students in photonics can be challenging as the field appears lesser known compared to standard majors
offered at US Colleges and Universities. At the University of California Davis we teach a well-received introductory
biophotonics course that attracts 20-25 honors freshman students yearly. The 40-hour course attracts science,
engineering, and humanities majors alike. The course is a basic interdisciplinary exploration of the intersection of
biology, physics, medicine, optics and technology with light. In addition to an overview of biophotonics, class
participants do hands-on experiments, practice peer-review, interact with biophotonics scientists, and carry out projects
to communicate biophotonics to others.
The Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology has developed an evaluation tool to assess the impact of its
educational programs on participants' understanding of basic concepts underlying biophotonics science. The
Biophotonics Concepts Inventory (BPC) includes fourteen items; some adopted from other concept tests as well as
several original items developed by CBST scientists and educators. Scientists also contributed to instrument
development by completing a pilot version of the BPC during the CBST annual retreat and rating each item for relevance
and importance to the field of biophotonics. The final items were selected based on item feedback and comparisons
between mean item scores for scientists, undergraduates, and high school students who completed the draft version of
the BPC. Items primarily focus on the behavior of light and light-matter interactions. The instrument has been used as a
pre-test and post-test in programs for undergraduates, K-12 teachers, high school and middle school students. To date,
there has been a significant increase in BPC scores from pre to post conditions across CBST programs and courses. We
will discuss BPC development, response patterns, and pre/post group comparisons. Specifically, we will address how
typical misconceptions about light and light-matter interactions were used to design items, the rationale for incorporating
visual representations into many items, the methods used for investigating instrument quality, and implications for
making claims about the effectiveness of CBST biophotonics education programs.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology CBST) provides a number of short to full-length courses on the subject of biophotonics. A middle school summer camp and various versions of multi-year high school courses are currently in progress. Two courses define a Biophotonics Option within the Photonics Technology Degree Program at the Central New Mexico Community College. CBST also collaborates with the Integrated Studies Honors Program (ISHP) at UC Davis to provide an introductory course to some of the top students in the freshman class. Advanced undergraduate and graduate courses are provided at UC Davis and sister institutions within CBST.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology (CBST) has created various high school biophotonics research academies for both students and teachers from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds. These academies engage diverse students for 10 hours to over 350 hours per year for multiple years with an emphasis on learning the basics of biophotonics and then conducting original, team-based research. We have developed three versions of the academy, one focused on biology and biophotonics, one on cancer and biophotonics, and a third on plants and biophotonics. A fourth emphasis on biomedical engineering and biophotonics is planned. We have conducted one of these academies for three years and have had very good student retention and science fair winners. As part of our program we also have a summer academy for training teachers. Challenges have arisen amongst the various levels of Academies, chief among them sustainability. In the future, more extensive evaluation, curriculum consolidation, and widespread dissemination are critical.
Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute (TVI) has developed a collaboration with the National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology (CBST) headquartered at the University of California, Davis in order to develop a transportable biophotonics curriculum for community colleges. A "Biophotonics Option" has been developed within the well-established Photonics Technology Degree program at TVI, centered on two elective courses ("Introduction to Biophotonics" and "Biophotonics Applications"). In addition, TVI is a part of the "Albuquerque Model" that involves exposure to photonics education from the middle school level through graduate education at the University of New Mexico.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology CBST) is collaborating with the Integrated Studies Honors Program (ISHP) at UC Davis to provide an introductory course to some of the top students in the freshman class. The course, IST 8A (Shedding Light on Life), was offered for the first time in Spring 2004 for the 2003-2004 ISHP class. A second offering was provided in Winter 2005 for the 2004-2005 ISHP class. This course is successfully increasing the educational, research, and training opportunities in the emerging field of biophotonics for high-achieving undergraduates at UC Davis.
Albuquerque Technical Vocational Institute (TVI) is collaborating with the National Science Foundation (NSF) funded Center for Biophotonics Science and Technology (CBST) headquartered at the University of California, Davis in order to develop a biophotonics curriculum for community colleges nationwide. TVI began the formal collaboration to bring about critically needed training and education that will ultimately create new jobs and employment opportunities in the field of biophotonics. "Biophotonics" is the science of generating and harnessing light to detect, image and manipulate biological materials. CBST chose TVI as a partner because of the Institute's current high-level photonics and biotechnology programs. In addition, TVI is a part of the "Albuquerque Model" that involves exposure to photonics education from the middle school level through graduate education at the University of New Mexico. Three middle schools feed into the West Mesa High School Photonics Academy, whose students then move on to TVI for advanced training. CBST brings together scientists, industry, educators and the community to research and develop applications for biophotonics. Roughly 100 researchers-including physical scientists, life scientists, physicians and engineers from UC Davis, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, UC Berkeley, UC San Francisco, Alabama A&M University, Stanford University, University of Texas at San Antonio, Fisk University and Mills College-are collaborating in this rapidly developing area of research. Applications of biophotonics range from using light to image or selectively treat tumors, to sequencing DNA and identifying single biomolecules within cells.