Young scientists create holograms in ‘phablab’ experience

Inquisitive minds are exploring the science of light through photonics outreach workshops run by experts from the University of Southampton.

Over 50 secondary school pupils built holograms at the Green Lab agri-tech laboratory in Bermondsey this month as part of the PHABLABS 4.0 project.

The European programme is engaging future generations of technicians, engineers and entrepreneurs in dozens of workshops across the continent through 11 partners and photonics institutes including the University of Southampton.

Southampton-led activities have stimulated young people from Year 7 to 12 with activities inspired by cutting-edge research into the potential of photonics, including knowledge from the Future Photonics Hub.

Pearl John, Public Engagement Leader and PHABLABS 4.0 project partner, says, “This has been an excellent opportunity to work with new audiences in an innovative, accessible way, promoting the use of photonics in manufacturing. The students have really enjoyed working in the new environment of the GreenLab. We have further workshops planned for 15-18 year-olds and Young Professionals and technicians.”

Photonics, using photons or particles of light in many applications, can provide game-changing solutions to future societal challenges in a wide scale of domains such as energy, aerospace, mobility, food safety, bio-photonics, healthcare, ICT and manufacturing for industry. PHABLABS 4.0 aims to pave the road to innovative concepts in this field through experiences that might subsequently be a starting point for a bright future as a technician, engineer or researcher.

PHABLABS 4.0 is delivering a suite of 33 photonics workshops, 11 photonics challenger projects and photonics toolkits targeted at young minds (age 10-14), students (age 15-18) and young professionals or technicians (age 18+).

The project taps into Europe’s eco-system of Fab Labs, creative spaces where people can experiment with science, tools and the newest technology. Activities through these ‘Photonics enhanced FAB LABS’ are taking place in 10 countries through to March 2018.

Hugo Thienpont, project coordinator and director of VUB B-PHOT Brussels Photonics, adds, “This is a huge opportunity to spark young people for science by engaging them in real-life experiments. Getting acquainted with new technologies to create concrete projects, can speed up the learning curve fundamentally. The challenge is to excite them in an attractive and inspiring way to achieve meaningful impact. We are building bridges between science, research and co-creative Fab Labs to support the next revolution in digitization.”

There will be two more workshops on 11 December 2017 in Bermondsey; ‘Making Holograms: A Workshop for A Level Students’, and ‘Making Holograms: A free FAB LAB Maker’s Workshop Using Lasers’. Follow the links for more information and to register.

A future manufacturing research hub