ERC Introduces New Generation of Girl Scouts to the Science of Light, Color, and Optics

Achievement date: 
2014
Outcome/accomplishment: 

The Center for Extreme Ultraviolet Science and Technology (ERC EUV), an NSF-funded Engineering Research Center headquartered at Colorado State University, has rejuvenated a hands-on activity developed by the Optical Society of America (OSA) and introduced a new generation of Girl Scouts to the science of light, color, and optics while informing the girls about STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers.

Impact/benefits: 

An immediate impact of this program is that the participating Girl Scouts learn about the nature and use of light along with the wonders of the electromagnetic spectrum. A potential long-term benefit is that this well received workshop that inspires girls for STEM careers will be adopted nationwide.

Explanation/Background: 

The ERC's Education Director, Dr. Kaarin Goncz, applied for and received a grant from the OSA to develop and actualize an earlier OSA workbook (Lighten Up) into a series of workshops for Girl Scouts. The workbook was packed with information and investigations that the girls (ages 11-14), with adult supervision, could perform to discover the wonders of the electromagnetic spectrum. Working in collaboration with the Colorado Girl Scout STEM director, a series of workshops were scheduled across the state over a year period such that seven different geographical regions could participate.

At these workshops, up to 30 girls and their leaders go through the activities in the book; a few extra activities in involving lasers are included (see figure). The ERC has also created “loaner” kits that are donated to each region’s office so that other girls can check out the materials required to do the workbook on their own. A distinctive patch was created for girls who successfully go through the workbook.