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Laser Camp Ignites Students' Interest in High-tech Fields of Study

students with art
Kay McMerriman and Nathan Khan show off their polarized light art

Close to 70 students from five area high schools descended upon Three Rivers on January 12 for Laser Camp IV. Students from Windham High School, Windham Tech High School, Ellis Tech High School, Plainfield High School and Woodstock Academy donned yellow Laser Camp VI t-shirts and participated in technology-focused workshops intended to interest teenagers in high-tech fields of study.

This year's Laser Camp included six workshops: laser engraving and 3D printing, spectroscopy, nanotechnology, khet (laser chess) and team building, laser mirror challenge and polarized light art. Students were assigned randomly to three of the workshops, which were facilitated by TRCC staff and students, personnel from EASTCONN (a regional education service center), and an Ellis Tech teacher. TRCC SPIE (International Society for Optics and Photonics) and OSA (Optical Society of America) student chapter members also assisted as tour guides.

Each student was given a personalized laser engraved dog tag (made by Laser and Fiber Optic Technology, or LFOT, student lab workers). A grant through EASTCONN covered the cost of transportation for students. SPIE helped fund materials and supplies. 

After the workshops were completed, students and teachers joined volunteers and TRCC staff in the cafeteria for lunch, the cost of which was covered by the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing, a supporter of the event. "Door prizes", created on TRCC's laser engraver and 3D printer, were awarded to several lucky high schoolers.

According to Judy Donnelly, TRCC Professor of Physics/Laser and Fiber Optics, "Many of the high school students will participate in a follow-up Laser Camp event in the spring, which is generally a trip to a Connecticut laser manufacturer." 

To learn more, check out the video below.

January 2012



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