Monday, September 20, 2010

Some Great Visual Resources for Your Science and Photonics Facilities

Do you need some posters to decorate the walls of your classrooms, labs and halls? Two of the photonics professional societies, SPIE and the Optical Society of America (OSA), have created some excellent posters that they provide to K-12 schools and colleges, free for the asking. These posters will not only add color and class to your facilities, they provide interesting education and career information about optics and lasers. To view and request copies of these posters, you will need to visit their web sites.

The SPIE web site is but you can go directly to the page that shows the posters by visiting There are many posters shown that you may want. SPIE will send them to you rolled up in a tube. We have had them mounted on foam board for a few dollars. Then they can be hung on walls or positioned on tables, unframed or framed. Some of the ones that I found particularly interesting are:

Introduction to Popular Applications of Optics & Lasers (new) — This poster shows novel applications that everyone can recognize, but may not know that they were enabled by optics and/or lasers. I think it is particularly useful for elementary and middle school students—and their parents.

Future of Lasers: Illuminating the Future (new) — This is a futuristic look at new laser applications in healthcare, energy, manufacturing and communications. I think it makes a great addition in either high schools or colleges.

• Invent Your Future (new) — This is my favorite! It explores & encourages photonics careers in science and technology. I think it is particularly appropriate for middle and high schools. We have this one mounted in the entrance of OP-TEC. Others are mounted throughout our Center.

Posters that relate to photonics applications in other fields include:
 Lithography
 Remote Sensing
 Metamaterials
 Biophotonics
 Sensors
 Nanotechnology
 Energy

The OSA web site is but you can go directly to the page that shows posters & other educational materials by visiting

There are two OSA Poster Series:

Optical Phenomena Posters (four, 11” x 34” — request the set)
 Lasers
 Fiber Optics
 Biomedical Optics
 Spectroscopy

Make waves—Discover Science Series (new, four, 11” x 34” — request the set)
 Acoustics
 Cross Polarization
 Echolocation
 Lasers

These posters will also be sent to you rolled in a tube; and they are best displayed if they are mounted on foam board. They are printed in five languages, so specify if you want yours in English. We have six of these posters displayed in the OP-TEC office.

Educational Pamphlets to accompany OSA posters: OSA has also developed very high quality educational pamphlets to support the posters described above. These 8.5" x 11", 4-8 page documents contain scientific explanations of the phenomena/equipment, experiments and career profiles of photonics scientists, engineers and technicians. They are available as printable PDFs that you can download from the web site.

Other free educational resources: OSA & SPIE also have several CDs and digital explorations, described in their web sites, that are useful for introducing photonics and careers to young people.

One example that particularly impresses me is Lighten Up! Discovering the Science of Light. This 36 page color booklet, developed through a collaborative effort between OSA Foundation and the Girl Scouts of America, is an exciting educational resource guide for girls, ages 11-15. You can request copies from OSA and GSA, or you can download a PDF and print your own copies.

Someone once said, “The best things in life are free.” I’m not sure they were referring to educational materials in lasers and optics, but the saying sure fits for these resources.

Dan Hull