December 1, 2004, Washington, DC--In 2004, the OSA Foundation granted $35,000 to target program areas, including international student travel, Web site translation, youth science education outreach, and student professional development. The Foundation Board recently approved the continued funding of these programs in 2005.
"We are pleased with the response to our initial programs and are excited that we will be able to continue to fund most of them as well as some brand new initiatives in 2005," said Gary Bjorklund, chair of the OSA Foundation Board.
One priority of the Foundation's activities is centered on international outreach. The 2004 International Student Travel Grant program provided funds for more than 30 students from around the world to attend OSA-sponsored conferences and present their research in a formal setting. This program provided a first-hand professional development experience. In a different targeted global initiative, the education-focused Web site, OpticsforKids.org, is slated to be translated into several languages in 2005 to provide young people from developing countries with more access to optics resources and tools.
Another 2004 Foundation program aimed at undergraduate and graduate students, the Student Professional Development Program, was held at CLEO/IQEC in 2004 as part of the Student Lounge. This program, slated to take place again at CLEO/QELS 2005, was held to encourage students to develop skills in presentation, networking, and job searching. Industry experts gave lectures on such topics as how to present a technical paper, life after graduation, and developing networking skills.
The OSA Foundation also provided more than $10,000 in Youth Science Education Activity Grants to 12 of OSA's local sections in 2004. This money was earmarked for educational outreach programs involving pre-college students. Programs held by the local sections ranged from science fairs to workshops to a unique hands-on initiative titled "The Optics Suitcase." These grants were spent on teaching basic optics and photonics principles to pre-college students around the United States and in many other countries, including Columbia and Malawi. Funded again for 2005, this program will be enhanced with the addition of a correlating program for OSA's student chapters, effectively doubling the Foundation grants given to enhance pre-college optics education.
A new program in 2005, the Foundation is funding the development of a Teacher Resource Pack. These Resource Packs will encourage pre-college education in optics and photonics and will provide teachers with Optics Discovery Kits. The Kits include materials to assist teachers in adding optics to their curriculum, including optical fiber, a flexible mirror, lenses, color filters, a hologram, polarizers, and experiment cards and are available in English, Spanish, German, and French.
To provide additional resources for continued efforts, the OSA Foundation began its first Annual Fund campaign drive and launched the Optics Trust in 2004 with 25 founding members. The Optics Trust is open to anyone who would like to provide for the Foundation in his or her will or estate plan. The Annual Fund for 2004 is open to donations until December 31, 2004. For more information or to make a tax-deductible donation to the OSA Foundation, visit http://www.osa.org/foundation/.