The Photonics Explorer

The Photonics Explorer is an intra-curricular educational kit that will be handed out free-of-charge to schools, in conjunction with training courses for science teachers. It is developed in an EU-funded project (EXPEKT) by an international team of experts in photonics, scientists in pedagogy and experienced teachers from more than 10 European countries, under the coordination of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. The kit is available in 10 languages. EYESTvzw, a non-for-profit organization is responsible for the distribution of the kit and has been already distributed over 1000 kits around Europe.

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The Photonics Explorer targets students from the lower (12-14 years) and upper-secondary levels (16-18 years). Both groups stand at crucial points in the decision making process for or against a career in science and engineering: the younger students have to decide usually within one year after learning the fundamentals of optics whether or not to specialize in sciences. The older group has to make essential career choices such as what university courses to follow or what profession to take up.

Each kit includes a class-set of generic and versatile components for hands-on experiments, a multimedia collection, and a comprehensive, guided-inquiry based didactic framework with worksheets, lesson outlines and background information for teachers.

In the framework of this activity, the LIGHT2015 Consortium plans to distribute 250 Photonics Explorer kits with the associated teacher training in 10 EU countries. On average the teachers will give lectures in 2 to 3 classes of 20 students. As a consequence, in one year one kit can reach on average 50 students. As the kits have been designed to last for at least 5 years, the 250 distributed kits can reach up to 62,500 students in Europe.