Sydney School Visits

What we did

At CUDOS we place a heavy emphasis on outreach activities and one of the main aims of this is to further educate high school students in introductory optics. We attempt to achieve this through classroom visits, undertaken by a team of dedicated physics honours, Masters and PhD students who are affiliated with CUDOS and are undertaking further studies in the area of optics. During these visits, the students give presentations which feature a range of interactive demonstrations in a way that supplements the existing syllabus while remaining both educational and entertaining!

What we offered

Sessions can be structured to align with the period of one class; ie we plan, flexibly, for 60 minute sessions. We can accommodate groups of up to 50 students, approximately, and would prefer them to be grouped by year. In the past, we have found that larger groups have difficulty in seeing & participating in the experiments but this can be negotiated.

We commence with an interactive talk which begins at basic optics before branching into topics of current research. These talks are slightly informal, with students encouraged to participate through asking/answering of questions. During this time we reward good answers and enthusiastic questions with prizes such as LED bouncing balls and laser pointers. The exact content of the talk is slightly flexible depending on the teachers preference and the level of the audience, but topics that are often covered include; a general introduction to optics, total internal reflection and its use in optical fibres, optical communications (the national broadband network), lasers, metamaterials which can be used to ‘bend’ and modify light and the ‘Harry Potter’ invisibility cloak.

Throughout the sessions we encourage the students to ask any questions they may have for us and allow them to experiment with a variety of interactive demonstrations including the Wavelength Division Multiplexing Sound System. This system encodes data from two separate sources (preferably students iPods, if they are allowed them) onto different coloured beams of light, which pass through an optical fibre together and are then directed to a sensor. This sensor is attached to a speaker and when both beams are directed towards the sensor both iPods can be heard. The students use coloured filters to separate out only one of the light beams, at which point only that iPod can be heard. In this way, the concept of Wavelength Division Multiplexing (used in many communications systems) is demonstrated to the students.

Our presentation also includes information about what life is like as a university student, what we actually do as physicists and what exciting opportunities await those who choose to pursue a career in physics. We then conclude the session by showing our acclaimed careers video “Your Future, Own It”.

What teachers have said about our program

Our student teams have been conducting visits to Roseville High in Sydney’s North Shore for a number of years now. Mr Paul Arena, Head of Science, says “our students have enjoyed hearing the scientists from CUDOS showcase their research. They have a knack for relating the Junior Science and Physics syllabus to emerging technologies in an engaging way”.

Like to arrange a visit?

Unfortunately we are unable to accept any further registrations for 2017 and beyond.