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Edible Optics and Hands On STEM

My awesome project is centered around edible optics! Did you know that you can make fiber optics and lenses out of Jello? I developed a fun, hands on lab for kids to do at our local observatory that lets them hold, play with and bend a variety of Jello optics to investigate how light interacts with matter. An awesome grant would help me expand the activities and the reach of my program.

During my project, the kids were set up with converging and diverging lenses as well as a long, thin, "fiber optic" rectangle. With low powered lasers they were able to investigate how the lenses bent the laser beams. They found that for a converging lens their laser, placed at three different areas, always pointed to a certain point, the focal point! They also noticed that with a diverging lens there was no focal point.

Students used a jello fiber optic to physically see their laser beam bouncing off the walls and back into the jello, allowing the other end to glow, even if it was bent side to side or pulled up off the paper. This was a fun and engaging lab, with kids getting a great first time experience with optics and lenses.

I would love to expand this program to reach more kids in the community and also to bolster the experiments they are able to do with the edible optics. With a meager $25 budget I was able to provide this edible optics experience for ~25 kids. With more funding I would be able to build parallel laser boxes to help them see the action of lenses in another way, purchase lasers of different colors to learn about absorption, and buy more Jello and cutters to supply materials and training to other public libraries, schools or observatories that are interested in running the program!

My goal is to bring fun and engaging hands on STEM projects to my community, and with your funding I would be able to enrich the program and reach many more future scientists.

Funded by Seattle, WA (January 2016)