The University of Southampton

Hundreds of people meet Lightwave at the Big Bang Fair

Published: 28 April 2014

Hundreds of people met with the Optoelectronics Research Centre’s (ORC) Lightwave team at this year’s Big Bang Fair.

ORC students Stephen Lynch, Vinita Mittal and Matthew Posner were in action for Lightwave at the NEC in Birmingham to unveil the science underpinning the technology of telecommunications and fibre optics. Lightwave is an outreach program organised by the University of Southampton’s Optical Society.

Lightwave is run by PhD student volunteers with an interest in optics. Targeted at primary schools, the group aims to teach children about light, but more importantly to get them engaged and interested in the wide world of optics and science in general.

Visitors to the stand discovered the secrets of visible light by playing with prisms and filters, learnt how to split light using diffraction gratings and saw what happens when you mix colours. They also took part in hands-on experiments to find out how to use mirrors to bounce a beam of laser light through a maze.

Families were enthralled as they learnt how to send secret messages using Morse code and how code is used to send videos and data.

Lightwave Officer Stephen Lynch said: “The event was lots of fun. It was great seeing the children’s faces light up when we showed them something cool using a laser or light. I would definitely do it again.”

Lightwave Director Matthew Posner added: “It is great to be able to engage with so many people and teach families about the fundamental physical principles behind this science and technology. The WOW factor for our work is huge. This was a great event to be a part of and I’m really happy about the levels of engagement that we received from all of the visitors to our stand. It was definitely worth the time put into making this possible. I’d like to thank all those that made it possible, and in particular Zena Hilton, the University of Southampton Roadshow Team and Pearl John for all of their help.”

Lightwave’s participation in the event was supported by the Engineering and Physical Science’s Research Council (EPSRC) Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Photonics and the ORC’s OSA-SPIE student chapter.

Lightwave is involved in a series of outreach events. To find out more, or to get involved email: lightwave@orc.soton.ac.uk

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