In Development: LASER Communication
Its been three years since LASER Classroom launched LASER Blox, our flagship product! Since launching LASER Blox, we’ve extended its functionality and versatility by creating a suction mount for mounting the LASER Blox to the white board, assembled kits for labs, demonstrations and outreach, and posted FREE activities and lessons for teaching and learning in the classroom. We’ve also created a great kit with LED’s for younger kids that has been selected as the Featured Kit for the International Year of Light, 2015!
And now, its time for something completely different! Well, not completely different. Its still all about light and lasers – LASER communication, to be specific, but its new and I’m excited to share it with you and get your feedback / input at this very early stage of development.
Our capacity to harness and manipulate light has impacted nearly every sector of technology you can think of: medicine, defense, and energy, to name a few. But the impact of light on our everyday lives is perhaps most obvious in our dependance on the technologies that rely on our ability to send and store data on, and as, beams of light. Without that ability, we would have no smart phones, flat screens or internet! Imagine – no internet!?
So it’s no wonder that “Waves and their applications in technologies for information transfer” is one of the Next Generation Science Standards.
Teaching and learning at the high school level about how light stores, manipulates and transmits data of all kinds is a challenge. Neither curriculum nor equipment is easily available – and what is available is prohibitively expensive. Meanwhile, as per usual, there are some motivated, creative folks out there who’ve hacked together some pretty cool stuff for demonstrating the phenomenon of sending your iPhone music over a laser beam; and they’ve posted it too. But really – it takes time and energy and frustration to build your own teaching equipment, and the results are spotty.
But perhaps the biggest problem with what is available, whether it be a hack or an expensive piece of demonstration equipment, is that it is lacking in pedagogical rigor. It’s plug and play – which is cool and gets a wow factor – but it keeps the black box of what it actually means to transmit data on a beam of light closed. Plug it in here and music appears over there… but what REALLY happened?
LASER Classroom’s next product will answer that question by starting with the basics of communication over a distance (think morse code) and building students’ understanding to a point where they will encode their own data to be transmitted, received and ultimately translated into an out put message.
Stay tuned for details and progress as we complete the prototype, work up a design and create a manufacturing plan!