Quick adaptation to the changing environment during the spread of COVID-19 led the LASER-TEC Center at Indian River State College (IRSC; Fort Pierce, FL) to create a method to address the challenge of continuing students’ photonics laboratory practice. The Center developed and manufactured photonics education kits to send to students at every Optics and Photonics College Network (OPCN) college nationwide at no cost to students.
With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE; Alexandria, VA), LASER-TEC responded to the nationwide shift to remote learning. Staff at the Center developed, assembled, and mailed a photonics education kit, or Light and Optic Experiment Kit (LOEK), to students in photonics programs at institutions in their college network across the country. The Center directly mails the LOEK to the home of teaching faculty and students—minimizing their exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
“Developing the LOEK allows students across the nation to continue with experiments and the hands-on learning required for their photonics and optics studies,” shares Dr. Chrys Panayiotou, Executive Director and Principal Investigator. “Our students like the fact that they can do the experiments at their own pace and repeat them as many times as needed until they master the concept or the skill. OPCN instructors appreciated that the kits allow students to experiment remotely and learn all the practical skills of the course.”
Each LOEK supports a majority of experiments found in the textbook, Fundamentals of Light and Lasers, allowing students to complete 18 experiments from home. To date, the LASER-TEC Center has delivered 116 kits to students at 11 colleges in Florida, Montana, Georgia, Michigan, Iowa, Washington, New York, California, Puerto Rico, and Canada.
An experiment manual developed and published by the LASER-TEC Center at IRSC is included as part of each kit, and the LASER-TEC Center will additionally develop videos to guide students through the experiments supported by the kits. The videos will be made available on the LASER-TEC Center YouTube channel.
For more information, please visit www.laser-tec.org.