Photon Factory hosts Summerland Primary School visit

17 June 2013

Left: Scanning Electron Microscope image of the school's name, machined on the surface of a stainless steel ruler, magnified by 90X. The white streak across the words of the image is a human hair. Right: Student Jake Martin explains the lasers.

A dozen students and three teachers from Summerland Primary School visited the Photon Factory on Friday, 15 June, to learn more about their exciting work with lasers. Led by Photon Factory students Simon Ashforth and Jake Martin they explored the facilities and received an introduction into the centrepiece of the Photon Factory’s laser facility, the ultrafast laser system.

To showcase the scale on which the Photon Factory lasers work, each child was given a metal ruler with his or her name on it, engraved microscopically with the laser, an SEM image of their name on the rulers, and the name of the school alongside a human hair for comparison.

“From the staff perspective, it was amazing learning for Barb, one of our deputy principals, Royce, in his first year of teaching, and myself,” says Maria Galbraith, Science teacher at Summerland Primary School.

“From the students’ perspective, they now have seen just a few of the many thousands of ways that science is explored,” Maria says. “We also broke down the stereotype of what scientists look like, and had great discussions around the fact that no-one was wearing a lab coat and there were no old men with grey beards. I look forward to doing the follow up learning with them to see what other knowledge they gleaned.”

The children were also visibly impressed by the visit and absolutely buzzing on the way back to school. Here are a few quotes from their conversations:

  • "It wasn't scary at all, but it was good the lights were on"
  • "Ben said she had the coolest accent he'd ever heard"
  • "Wow, this (ruler) is so cool; it's so sciencey!"
  • "I didn't want to bend down in case I lasered my eyes"
  • "How did they fit a poem on hair? I can't fit it on paper"