Machine Design

Says NSF, optics are fun

The National Science Foundation hopes to get middle-school students interested in science. It is giving $1.7 million to a project called "Hands-On Optics: Making an Impact with Light," that focuses on hooking up optics-industry volunteers with teachers and individual students.

The program reaches out to women and minorities who are under-represented in the science and technology fields. Activities in the program include building a kaleidoscope and a pinhole camera, as well as creating holograms. The projects take place after school, on weekends, and at summer camps or family workshops.

Grant recipients include the International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE); the Optical Society of America (OSA); Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA); and the National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO). The program will initially begin in California, Washington state, and Arizona and then expand to selected states.

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