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ICO Newsletter

October 2015 Number 105




The ICO Award for the Promotion of Optics and Photonics

First Prize awarded to the Spanish Society of Optics & Photonics (SEDOPTICA).


 Fibre optics wonders explained by students during the school opennight light show at the high school IS Cavazzi, Pavullo, Italy.

The ICO award for the Promotion of Optics and Photonics among young people in the ICO territories was created by the ICO Bureau in celebration of the International Year of Light 2015. The Bureau put particular emphasis on activities that are sustainable beyond 2015 and that can be replicated in other territories. The ICO will continue calling for initiatives deserving of the award, which will now be established as a regular ICO award, as a legacy of the IYL 2015.

The first prize (US$5000) was awarded to the Spanish Optical Society (SEDOPTICA) for secondary school outreach activities for the promotion of optics and photonics using the Photonics Explorer, an educational kit developed by an international team of teachers and experts in pedagogy from 11 EU countries to fit into diverse educational systems and teacher cultures, as part of an FP7 European project. The project was initiated by the Brussels Photonics Team (B-PHOT) at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel and brought together European industry, scientists at universities, teachers in secondary schools and students.

Members of SEDOPTICA contacted by secondary schools prepare the correspondent optics and photonics lab, aiding the secondary school teacher to show a wide range of optical experiences to the students. The secondary school then has the possibility of obtaining a Photonics Explorer kit to have a fully equipped lab integrated in the curricula of the educational center.

The ICO Bureau also awarded US$1000 to a proposal from the Cuban ICO Territorial Committee entitled “Young sky observers in Havana, Optics & Photonics trainees-scientists of the future”. A group of scientists and engineers from the Laser Technology Laboratory, Institute of Material Science and Technology (IMRE), in collaboration with the astronomical observatory in Havana University, presents young children and teenagers with elements of optics and photonics through hands-on activities with five telescopes.

The main objective is to allow young people to interact with telescopes and resources available, and learn the basic principles of astronomy, develop skills and enrich their knowledge of optical properties of light and the use of software to the location of celestial bodies and recognition of the Moon accidents. Through astronomy, young people are guided to see the fundamental role that optics and photonics play in modern life. In every presentation the participants do the experiment and receive a brief explanation about the physical or optical phenomena involved. This single act could trigger the spark for a future scientist, technician or engineer.

 Summer course 2015 for young amateur astronomers.

A third award (US$1000) was awarded for a proposal from the IS Cavazzi, a secondary school with a science focus located in the Apennine mountains at the boundary with Tuscany, that serves students from the surrounding mountain area. The role played by high school in science dissemination in the local community is of crucial importance since there are no universities, research centres or science centres in a range of 45km.

Thanks to the ICO award they intend to implement three strictly integrated actions impacting on both teachers and students: firstly, a one-day national science fair called “Amazing light” open to middle- and high-school students at national level; second, the setting up of a science show focused on light and its technological applications run by students (15–19) that will become a regular activity at the school with a continuous upgrading; and finally, a long weekend workshop for educators about science shows and how to organize one. Teachers, science and physics university students – mainly those interested in teaching or science communication careers – and science animators will all be welcome (maximum 30). Full accommodation will be offered in teachers’ homes, but travelling expenses will not be covered by the school. Contact Anamaria Lissoti at

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International Commission for Optics

Bureau members (2014-2017):

President: Y. Arakawa;

Past-President: D. T. MooreTreasurer: J A Harrington;

Secretary: A M Guzmán, CREOL, The College of Optics and Photonics, University of Central Florida, PO Box 162700, 4000 Central Florida Blvd,Orlando, FL 32816-2700, USA; e-mail

Associate Secretary: G von Bally

Vice-Presidents, elected: J. Harvey, F. Höller, H. Michinel, J. Niemela, R. Ramponi, S-H Park, J. Zakrzewski, M. Zghal

Vice-Presidents, appointed: Y. J. Ding, J. C. Howell, S. Morgan, E. Rosas, P. Urbach, A Wagué, M. J. Yzuel

IUPAP Council Representative: C Cisneros

Editor in chief: A M Guzmán

Editorial committee:
K Baldwin, Australian National University, Australia;
J Dudley, Université de Franche-Comté, France;
William T Rhodes, Florida Atlantic University, USA.