Science and Optics Kits

Above all, science is based on experiment, and optics and photonics are two fields where doing experiments is simple and attractive, and provides a fantastic introduction into many areas of science. This page will provide links to a selection of kits that we have chosen to highlight for their accessibility and educational value.

Featured Kit

Light Blox Kit: International Year of Light Edition
This updated version of the Light Blox Kit is an educational light experiment kit for kids 8+. With the power and properties of light, scientists explore space, see inside the human body, solve crimes and create global communications systems. Discover their secrets with the Light Blox Kit.  Learn how to bend, bounce and blend light with three high tech light sources, lenses, mirrors and an activity guide full of fun and learning.
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Other Kits

Light and Laser Education and Outreach Kit
This light and laser education kit was originally developed for SPIE student chapters so that University students could share what they know about light, lasers and optics with kids in grades 3-12.
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Chemistry and Light
The school didactic kit 'Chemistry and Light' is primarily designed for science teachers to bring new, attractive and motivating elements into lessons, or to create a stunning light show. The luminescence experiments can be used to highlight related topics in chemistry classes (energy, chemical kinetics, catalysis, renewable energy).
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Optics Discovery Kit
The Education Council of The Optical Society prepared this discovery kit to introduce students to modern Optical Science and Engineering. Working with member industrial firms, the OSA selected high quality optical components and prepared detailed instructions for 11 experiments. Designed for ages 10+.
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Optics Suitcase
Developed by the OSA Rochester Section (ROSA) in 1999, the Optics Suitcase is an innovative, interactive presentation package designed to introduce middle school students to the dynamic and exciting range of concepts within the study of light. Each case includes a teaching guide and materials for demonstrations and experiments that teach about optics in a fun, hands-on atmosphere. Topics include: polarization, diffraction and selective reflection. A demonstration requires 40-60 minutes and provides materials for up to 50 students.  
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Photonics Explorer
This kit equips teachers with a class set of experimental materials provided within a supporting didactic framework.  To let students experience the excitement of doing science with their own hands, they need robust, versatile and safe experimental equipment. Therefore, each Photonics Explorer kit contains a class set of components for hands-on experiments suitable for a class of up to 30 students. The kit has been extensively tested with nearly 2000 students in 7 EU countries and the didactic content is currently available in 8 EU languages; Bulgarian, Czech, Dutch, English, French, German, Polish and Spanish.
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PhysicsQuest
PhysicsQuest is a story-based activity that exposes middle school students to the fun and relevance of science. APS provides a free PhysicsQuest kit to registered 6-9th grade physical science classes, home school groups, science clubs, and afterschool programs. The kit includes a user's manual and materials for four physics experiments. The activities are wrapped in a story about our laser super hero, Spectra, and her battles with badly-named villains. The International Year of Light edition will feature a comic book of Spectra’s continued battle with Miss Alignment and her quest to conquer the town with a giant Fresnel lens.
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School children use the Galileoscope in Flagstaff, Arizona. Photo courtesy of S. Pompea, NOAO
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School children use the Galileoscope in Flagstaff, Arizona. Photo courtesy of S. Pompea, NOAO

The Galileoscope Educational Telescope Kit
The Galileoscope is a high-quality, low-cost telescope developed as a Cornerstone Project for the International Year of Astronomy 2009. It solves a long-standing problem: the lack of an optically excellent but inexpensive telescope kit suitable for both optics education indoors and celestial observations outdoors. The assembly process requires no tools or adhesives, and allows students to enjoy sharp views of lunar craters and mountains, Jupiter’s moons, Saturn's rings, the Pleiades star cluster, and other bright astronomical objects.

Galileoscope, LLC, has partnered with the Astrosphere New Media Association to create Telescopes4Teachers, a donation program through which individuals and organizations can make donations and designate schools or teachers to receive Galileoscopes.
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6th graders with their teachers presenting the activities to their community. Photo courtesy of C. Walker, NOAO
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6th graders with their teachers presenting the activities to their community. Photo courtesy of C. Walker, NOAO

Quality Lighting Teaching Kit
The Quality Lighting Teaching Kit is supported by the International Astronomical Union (IAU) as one of the official “Cosmic Light” cornerstone projects for the International Year of Light (IYL).  It represents a partnership between U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA), the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE) and the International Commission on Illumination (CIE) and is designed for 6th to 12th grade classrooms and afterschool programs. It provides a focused, sequential, and cumulative set of learning experiences related to aspects of illumination engineering, including the relationship between a lamp’s energy efficiency and its spectral and physical properties.  At the end, students will be able to perform an audit at home, calculating the energy, cost and carbon footprint consumed, and produce their own revised master plan by retrofitting with compliant lighting.

For further information contact Connie Walker at cwalker@noao.edu or +1-520-318-8535 (telephone).