ZEISS and Imperial College London run optics summer program for teens

March 11, 2024
Teens—14 and 15 years old—get opportunity to immerse themselves in optics for a week during the summer.

Saving the world, future sustainability, and eco-friendly materials were among the topics discussed by a group of 24 teens last summer during a week-long program designed and hosted by ZEISS, a pioneer of science in optics, and Imperial College London.

The camp was such a success that ZEISS is running it again in August 2024 with the same theme of the science of sustainability under the microscope.

ZEISS is passionate about inspiring the next generation of scientists and encouraging kids to follow their aspirations for a career in science—and this opportunity gives young people a chance to follow their passion for science while enjoying a unique experience at a top academic institute.

During last year’s camp, along with theoretical talks, the kids took part in challenges and practical workshops to explore various materials under the microscope to explore questions like: How can we improve current materials? What kinds of properties do they have? And how can they be used in an eco-friendly way?

The students—which included a mix of 12 teens whose parents work at ZEISS and 12 whose don’t—spent a busy week in London attending workshops, lectures, and activities to learn how to build and operate microscopes, use artificial intelligence (AI) for imaging and analysis, and explore how microscopy and materials science are tightly interlinked and how the in-depth characterization of materials can lead to a more sustainable future.

A one-day trip to the ZEISS U.K. head office in Cambourne gave students a chance to see the latest technologies emerging out of their Consumer Optics, Medical Technology, and Research Microscopy Solutions departments.

Kennedy Greene, from Canada, applied for the program because she wanted to expand her science knowledge “to help build a more sustainable future for generations to come,” she says. “The opportunity to learn more about biomaterials, as well as study at one of the best universities in the world was too great to miss.”

Theo Werschnik, from Germany, loves physics and his favorite part of the summer school was visiting the ZEISS site and operating an electron microscope: “You can see things smaller than light beams on this microscope!”

Amelia Yuan, from the U.K., has always been interested in chemistry, physics, and biology, not only at school but also in her spare time as a hobby. “I was thrilled to have received a place at the ZEISS summer school and my hope was that it would give me great insight into what I would want to do as a future career,” she says. “I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience—creating lasting memories and making friends from all over the world.

Saira Daultana, from the U.K., enjoyed the opportunity to meet people from other countries who are also interested in science. “I really enjoy using simple light microscopes at my school but it was amazing to be able to visit the ZEISS U.K. head office and use an actual electron microscope,” she says. “We also used virtual reality headsets to visualize the ZEISS machines so we could practice experiments. These were all incredible opportunities that I wouldn’t usually have had a chance to experience!”

The camp concluded with students designing a poster to present their newfound knowledge to the academic team.

About the Author

Sally Cole Johnson | Senior Technical Editor

Sally Cole Johnson has worked as a writer for over 20 years, covering physics, semiconductors, electronics, quantum, the Internet of Things (IoT), optics, photonics, high-performance computing, IT networking and security, neuroscience, and military embedded systems. She served as an associate editor for Laser Focus World in the early 2000s, and rejoined the editorial team as senior technical editor in January 2022.

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