Abstract

There is an imminent shortage of skilled workforce facing Europe’s hi-tech industries mainly due to the declining interest of young people in science and engineering careers. To avert this trend the European Union funded the development of the ‘Photonics Explorer’ – an intra-curricular educational kit designed to engage, excite and educate students about the fascination of working with optics hands-on, in their own classrooms!

Each kit equips teachers with class sets of experimental components provided within a supporting didactic framework based on guided inquiry based learning techniques. The material has been specifically designed to integrate into the curriculum and enhance and complement the teaching and learning of science in the classroom. The kits are provided free of charge to teachers, in conjunction with teacher training courses.

The main challenge of this program was the development of educational material that seamlessly integrates into the various national curricula across Europe. To achieve this, the development process included a preparatory EU wide curricula survey and a special ‘Review and Revise’ process bringing together the expertise of over 35 teachers and pedagogic experts. This paper reports on the results of the preparatory study which identified two specific age groups at secondary schools for photonics educational material, the didactic content of the Photonics Explorer kit resulting from a pan-European collaboration of key stakeholders, EU wide dissemination and sustainability of the program.

© 2013 OSA, SPIE, IEEE, ICO

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