The Australian National University
ANU OSA Student Chapter
Advancing the Science of Light
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Outreach program

We are happy to go to any school to talk about our work and give some demonstrations of basic science of optics. We also welcome every one to visit our labs.

Please contact Ms Amrita Prasad at or 02 6125 9714 for further information of the program.

Related materials on outreach program:

Optics Suitcase

Developed by the OSA Rochester Local Section, the Optics Suitcase is an innovative, interactive presentation package designed to introduce middle school students to a variety of science concepts. The suitcase provides students with packets of materials that can be taken home to show to friends and family members as a reinforcement of the classroom lessons. To view the Suitcase Teaching Guide, and to read articles about outreach programs that have successfully used these materials, visit:

Recent activities

Trinity Christian School, Canberra visit

The goal was to give more than 50 year 9 students from the top science classes at the school an idea about what it is like to study and work at university within the field of optical sciences. This was achieved through an interactive presentation involving colorful slides combined with live demonstrations of several fascinating and inspiring optical phenomena.

After an introduction to ourselves and our field of study, the polarization properties of light were gradually explained to the students and demonstrated using e.g. polarizing sheets and polarization rotating objects (transparent plasticware).

The class we spoke to consisted of year nine students (14-15 years old) who were just doing light and sound with their science teacher, and our visit therefore fitted in perfectly with their knowledge and current activities. We were able to maintain an interactive presentation where the students were guided to discover things by themselves and to figure out the right explanations for the observations with which they were presented.

The visit proved to be a very enriching experience for both the high school students and the participating OSA student members, and we are looking forward to giving more such presentations in the future.

ANU Open day

Our Student Chapter took part in the university's annual Open Day event. The ANU Open Day is designed to provide information about the university's degrees to college students who are about to choose what to study. It was therefore an excellent opportunity for us to give prospective science students a glimpse of the fascinating world of optics at this important moment in their education program.

Our booth was equipped with posters and pictures displaying our research work, labs and OSA Student Chapter, as well as several exciting optics demonstrations which people were encouraged to explore with their own hands!

With laser pointers and a homebuilt water jet setup, and several types of optical fibres, we were able to explain and show the interested visitors how to trap and control light in optical waveguide structures. Items from the Optics Suitcase were used to demonstrate e.g. the colors of white light.

We managed to attract a great deal of attention throughout the day, and believe we may have inspired many future university students to pursue a science degree at the ANU.

Prof. Robert Boyd visit

On 6th of July 2007, Prof. Robert Boyd visited the Research School of Physical Sciences and Engineering (RSPhysSE) at the Australian National University. The student chapter organized this visit with support from the OSA traveling lecturer program. Prof. Boyd is a major scientific figure in Nonlinear Optics and his contributions in this field are very significant. His work is also very relevant to the research done at several groups in the ANU Department of Physics and RSPhysSE.

During his two days at ANU, Prof. Boyd presented two seminars, one on the topic of "Controlling the Velocity of Light: Fundamentals and Applications". This talk explained the concepts of "slow" and "fast" light and presented the recent results of his group along with an overview of the work in this field.

Prof. Robert Boyd visit was paid for by the OSA in the annual traveling lecturer program.

"Optics in the Outback"

This is the most ambitious and exciting project undertaken by the student chapter so far. The outreach venture was designed with the aim of bringing the excitement of science and optics to school children in remote towns in the Australian outback. Two officers of the chapter, Christian Rosberg and Robert Fischer, visited five schools, on a week long trip, in early March 2007.