X – PHOTON Projects History
PHOTON Projects History
The PHOTON projects of the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) use photonics & optics (Live link to “What Is Photonics? Page) as a vehicle for improving secondary and post-secondary science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, while also setting students on real career paths encompassing several academics degree levels.
The programs focus on developing field-tested student-centered educational materials, providing science and technology teacher professional development, and facilitating relationships between academia and local industry. The Projects have already produced an array of curriculum materials that can be used in existing courses or to develop new ones.
In 1994, the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded the first Advanced Technology Education (ATE) grants with the goal of improving technician education at two-year colleges and forming partnerships between academic institutions and industry. In 1995, the New England Board of Higher Education (NEBHE) in Boston, Massachusetts received its first ATE grant, a project to prepare teachers to introduce fiber optic technology to secondary and postsecondary students in the six New England states. The work of the first grant was adapted and expanded by three subsequent ATE grants. The impact of these projects has grown in technical breadth and geographical extent to include all of photonics technology and teachers and faculty from Maine to Hawaii.
The completed PHOTON Projects consisted of the following initiatives:
PHOTON2, a three-year project begun in 2003, gave educators the necessary skills and resources to implement and teach photonics courses by producing an introductory textbook and other curricula materials (link to “curricula materials” webpage) and a distance-learning program (link to distance-learning webpage) for educators.
A unique feature of PHOTON2 was the establishment of Alliances between local high schools and colleges to provide seamless integration between their STEM curricula. Educators from eight geographic locations were brought together to facilitate photonics technology education in their local institutions to develop educational pathways for students. The Alliances consisted of four to six participants per region, including high school and two- and four-year college science, technology, engineering, and math instructors, as well as their institution's career counselors and industry partners.
- Web-based professional development course, "Introduction to Photonics".
- "Introduction to Distance-Learning" workshop designed to introduce participants to web-based learning environments.
- Instructional materials, including a 15 chapter textbook, Light – Introduction to Optics and Photonics.
- A field-tested, industry-quality laboratory equipment kit, with 25 exercises and lab demo videos.
- 13 introductory explorations.
- Career guidance resource materials designed for career and guidance counselors.
- Support by local industry for instructors and students.
- Local, paid summer internships in the photonics industry during 2005 and 2006 for teachers and counselors.
- A capstone "Showcase" workshop in 2006 held in collaboration with SPIE.
- A nationwide listserv consisting of photonics educators, career and guidance counselors, industry mentors, and professional optics-related societies.
PHOTON2 Project Funding
Photon 2 was funded through a three-year grant from the Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program of the National Science Foundation (NSF). Project PHOTON2 built on the highly successful "Alliance" model developed during the previous Project PHOTON.
Photonics technology - the practical application of light - is one of the most pervasive and important new technologies of the twenty-first century. PHOTON addressed photonics education on a number of fronts. Of primary importance was increasing the number of teachers who had the knowledge and skills to teach photonics technology. Although ATE programs are focused on two-year colleges, PHOTON recognized that the pipeline of college students starts well before college admission, perhaps even before secondary school. For this reason, project PHOTON included middle and high school teachers as well as college faculty. This cross-grades collaboration resulted in the development of educational pathways in science education to help students achieve as they progressed through the educational system. Project PHOTON also included guidance counselors in the professional development workshops. Counselors gained new knowledge on available career options and provided outreach to students interested in math, science and technology careers.
A key feature of PHOTON was that schools needed to apply as regional educational alliances of at least one high school and one college, plus a middle school if possible. These alliances were successful at sharing knowledge and resources, strengthening connections with industry partners, and solving a variety of implementation problems.
- 39 schools participated, with teachers from middle schools, high schools and community colleges.
- A mentored email Listserv was established that is still active today with more than 100 education and industry members.
- Eight optics instructional modules were produced for classroom use, the beginnings of what became a 15 chapter textbook. (Link to textbook)
- The FOTEP lab kit was expanded to include components for experiments with lasers.
- 25 laboratory experiments in basic & applied optics were developed and field-tested.
- A series of 13 optics-focused "Explorations" suitable for middle school science labs were developed.
- Three community colleges established industry partnerships, including materials donations, co-op jobs for students, industry scholarships for students, and industry participation on college advisory committees.
- 14 high schools established industry partnerships including part-time jobs for students, plant tours, and industry participation on school advisory boards.
- High schools and local community colleges created stronger bonds leading to joint activities such as field trips, job shadowing, photonics activities at career days, and fellow teacher training in photonics by project participants.
The first of the NEBHE photonics-related ATE projects increased the number of secondary schools and colleges (primarily two-year community colleges) prepared to introduce fiber optics technology to their students. Over a period of 30 months, the project's principle investigators worked with teachers and faculty from more than 40 schools in a series of workshops, providing curriculum, materials, technical assistance and a unique opportunity to network with other educators and fiber optic industry personnel.
- Fiber optic units taught by program participants grew from six to 26.
- Number of courses specifically on fiber optics grew from three to seven.
- An entire associate degree program in fiber optics was established at one community college in Connecticut.
- Over 60% of FOTEP faculty participants built contacts and partnerships with local fiber optics businesses.
- Strong collaboration between high school and college level instructors promoted.
- A lab kit was developed for fiber optic laboratory experiments.
- A set of fiber optics instructional materials was developed.
PHOTON Projects Leadership Team
The PHOTON projects leadership team has extensive experience in the fields of optics and photonics, with project design and administration, curriculum development, instructional methodologies, education and career pathways development, and collaboration with industry.
Fenna Hanes - Principal Investigator
Senior Director of Professional and Resource Development
New England Board of Higher Education
Ms. Hanes is responsible for overall project management including outreach, workshop coordination, dissemination, and evaluation oversight. She has extensive experience collaborating with STEM faculty, managing project teams, coordinating conferences, workshops and seminars, and overall grants management. She has also been a co-principal investigator for a number of other National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) projects. Hanes earned a B.S. in liberal arts and business from Northeastern University, and an MS in Public Affairs from UMass Boston.
Judith Donnelly – Co-Principal Investigator
Professor of Physics
Three Rivers Community College (TRCC)
Prof. Donnelly is responsible for the scientific, technological and educational integrity of the PHOTON projects. On the PHOTON PBL project she is responsible for challenge development. During PHOTON2, she adapted and taught the PHOTON instructional materials to a one-semester web-based course for teachers, “Introduction to Photonics”. Prof. Donnelly and Prof. Massa are co-authors of a 15 chapter text Light - Introduction to Optics and Photonics.
Prof. Donnelly also developed an associate degree program in Laser and Fiber Optics Technology at Three Rivers where she teaches. At TRCC, she has received two NSF grants for curriculum development and lab improvement. Prof. Donnelly holds a BS in chemical physics from Tufts University and a MS in bioengineering from the University of Connecticut.
Nicholas Massa - Co-Principal Investigator
Professor of Laser Electro-Optics Technology
Springfield Technical Community College (STCC)
Prof. Massa, along with Marijke Kehrhahn, oversaw the pedagogical aspects of the PHOTON 2 web-based course development and conducted research on the effectiveness of the web-based professional development model. In PHOTON PBL, Dr. Massa is responsible for challenge development as well as designing and managing the internal research components of PHOTON PBL. At STCC, he is program coordinator for their Laser Electro-Optics Technology Department and is responsible for curriculum development, recruitment, developing and maintaining a state-of-the-art photonics laboratory, and student job-placement. Prof. Massa and Prof. Donnelly are co-authors of a 15 chapter text Light - Introduction to Optics and Photonics. Dr. Massa holds both BS and MS degrees in electrical engineering from Western New England College and a Ph.D. in adult learning from the University of Connecticut. His doctoral dissertation researched web-based distance education.
Richard Audet - Co-Principal Investigator
Associate Professor, School of Education
Roger Williams University
Dr. Audet, a biologist by training, is a professor of teacher education. In PHOTON PBL he is responsible for the pedagogical integrity of the program, including development of the case study template, assessment plan and and instructional design. He has authored several books on education standards using problem-based learning. Dr. Audet holds a BA and MA in Biology from Providence College, an M.Ed. in marine education from Eastern Connecticut State University and an Ed.D in curriculum and instruction from Boston University.
Marijke Kehrhahn - Co-Principal Investigator
Director of Teacher Education
University of Connecticut
Dr. Kehrhahn was responsible for infusing adult learning principles into the PHOTON 2 distance learning course. Her research agenda focuses on the design and delivery of effective professional development programs by incorporating adult learning principles to enhance the application of newly acquired knowledge and skills. She is a consultant to the PHOTON PBL Project. Currently, Dr. Kehrhahn works with school districts, public agencies, and corporations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their professional development efforts. Dr. Kehrhahn holds an MA in special education and a Ph.D. in adult and vocational education from the University of Connecticut.
Alexandra Bell - Senior Personnel
Assistant Professor in Department of Educational Leadership's Adult Learning Program
University of Connecticut
Dr. Bell holds a Ph.D. in adult and vocational education and a MS in physical therapy. She has conducted funded research on facilitation of on-line learning through application of adult learning principles, and developed measures to quantify indicators of online learning. Her areas of expertise include adult and experiential learning, professional development, and facilitation of critical thinking in online learning environments.
Michele Dischino – Multi-Media Consultant
Professor of Technology & Engineering Education
Central Connecticut State University
Dr. Dischino is overseeing the multi-media development of the PHOTON PBL challenges for classroom use. She combines a biomedical engineering background with an interest in graphic communications and educational outreach. She also has experience working with both middle- and high-school students as well as university students. She currently teaches engineering at Central Connecticut State University. Dr. Dischino earned a B.S. in mechanical engineering from Manhattan College and received her Ph.D. in bioengineering from the University of Pennsylvania.
Carol M. Giuriceo – External Project Evaluator
Adjunct Professor of Education
Rhode Island College
Ms. Giuriceo’s role is to provide a formative and summative evaluation for the project to ensure it meets its goals. She has extensive experience in project management, partnership and team building, public outreach, media project management and event organization. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in education offered jointly by the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College.
PHOTON PBL National Advisory Committee
Robert Breault *
Breault Research Organization, Inc.
Robert Douglas *
Wendy L. Gilpin *
Director of Education
Pennsylvania State University
G. Groot Gregory – Chair *
Optical Research Associates
Dean of Information & Engineering Technologies
Nashville State Community College
Tennessee Department of Education
Chief Electro-Optical Systems Engineer
Optical Research Associates
Inside Sales Manager
North Grafton, MA
Michael Ruane *
Associate Professor, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Ronald E. Scotti *
Science and Technology Strategist
SPIE–The International Society for Optical Engineering
Whitehouse Station, NJ
* Was also a member of the PHOTON2 Advisory Committee.
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