LILLINGTON - Six high school teams recently participated in a laser science fair, host by the Central Carolina Community College Laser Club. The event was held at the CCCC Harnett Main Campus in Lillington.
Three of the teams were from the Integrated Systems Technology Academy at Jack Britt High School in Fayetteville. The organizer and advisor for these teams was Jack Britt Technology Teacher Henrietta Jutson. Three teams were from the Harnett County Early College in Dunn. The organizer and advisor for these teams was Science Teacher Sherrie Ivey.
"We were excited to welcome the teams and their families to CCCC, and we continue to look forward to hosting this laser fair as an annual event," said Isabelle Karis, second-year CCCC laser student and Laser Club president.
Each high school team followed scientific methods to develop, document, and present an experiment to demonstrate the measurement of one of the many properties of light energy, using a donated LASER-TEC Laser Educational Kit. Independent judges determined high scores.
The high school team with the highest score of each high school was recognized, with the team receiving a plaque and a NSF ATE LASER-TEC Educational Kit. In addition, each member of the team received a $10 gift card.
The high school receiving the highest accumulative score, of their three teams, was recognized, with the high school receiving a plaque, two NSF ATE LASER-TEC Educational Kits, and a $100 gift card. Jack Britt was the overall high school winner.
The biggest winners in this event were the students participating, who gained from further development of their skills using scientific methods, learning more in-depth technical knowledge experimenting with light energy, and practicing their presentation skills to numerous visitors of their display. CCCC laser program students, who form the SPIE Student Chapter organization, learned from organizing and coordinating the event. This event also helps create public awareness about Photonics technology, which is one mission of the CCCC Laser Club.
In addition to the laser science fair competition, the CCCC laser program advisory committee held its annual meeting prior to the fair. Four of the advisors judged the event. The advisors judging were Scott Hamlin, owner of MegaWatt Lasers in Hilton Head, S.C.; Joseph Price, from Wasatch Photonics in Research Triangle Park, N.C.; Patrick Hogan, from GE Energy in Wilmington, N.C., and Kien Lao, owner of an Engineering Consulting firm in Durham, N.C.
Gary Beasley, Lead Instructor of the CCCC Laser Program, said, "We are so lucky, and proud to have such a dedicated group of advisors, who donate so much in time, advice, money, equipment donations, and employment of our graduates. We were especially happy to have Joseph Price join us this year. Joseph, a Triton graduate, who lives in Erwin, was a 2013 laser program graduate. Working at Wasatch Photonics, Joseph has become an expert in research and development of Raman Spectroscopy and Optical Coherence Tomography equipment."
The high school teams took advantage of the visit to the CCCC Harnett Main Campus to gain further technical education by coming early to learn the fundamentals of electrical energy by undertaking several electronics labs organized by first-year CCCC laser program students, led by Skylar Overby. After participating in the electronics labs, the high school students were treated with tours of the high energy lasers conducted by second-year laser students.
"Anyone interested in science or technology should definitely include this event on their calendar next year! Attendees got to see high school students compete on a scientific intellectual level, enjoy students presenting their findings, and learn something about light energy properties," said Beasley.
This science fair was largely funded by a National Science Foundation (NSF) Laser and Fiber Optics ATE Grant (LASER-TEC), which CCCC participates as a Co-Principal Investigator. The LASER-TEC NSF ATE Grant supports preparing students for the fast growing fields of lasers and fiber optics technology. Dr. Chrys Panayiotou, from Indian Rivers State College, is the Principal Investigator of LASER-TEC. Photonics is the study of the use of light, such as lasers, for industrial and other purposes.
For more information on Central Carolina Community College, visit www.cccc.edu.
Isabelle Karis (left), second-year CCCC laser student and Laser Club president, presents an award to members of the Jack Britt High School team.
Isabelle Karis (right), second-year CCCC laser student and Laser Club president, presents an award to members of the Harnett Early College team.