The Year of Light and Informal Science Education: Illuminating Resources from Our Collection

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January 8th, 2015

2015 is The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies. Designated as such by the United Nations in an effort to increase awareness and understanding of light-based science and technology, this global initiative will highlight ways in which optical technology can help provide solutions to challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications, and health. Here are highlights from the project collection that used the theme of light to create experiences and settings for lifelong STEM learning.

NASA Programming at Thanksgiving Point

Using funding from NASA, Thanksgiving Point, a nonprofit in Lehi, Utah created exhibits, programming, and activities centered around the theme of Bringing Light and Space Together (BLAST). The project created three exhibitions in neighborhood museums: a light exhibition at the Museum of Ancient Life, as well as a Space Garden and a Solar Walk at other venues.

Project iLASER

Investigations with Light and Sustainable Energy Resources (project iLASER) was created by Southwestern College in 2011 to engage both children and adults in hands-on science activities related to sustainable energy, chemistry and materials science. The program targets underrepresented audiences in STEM, especially from economically disadvantaged Latino communities, and has partnered with existing community structures like Boys & Girls Clubs and other afterschool groups

Finding NEO: asteroids, lightcurves, and amateur astronomers

In this project, the Space Science Institute created a web portal called “Killer Asteroids: Science Fiction or Science Fact” to engage the public with the science involved in asteroid research. The portal includes online games, interactive exhibits, and videos about how amateur astronomers can help study asteroids by collecting data about lightcurves (the changes in light reflectivity off of spinning asteroids). How are you responding to the International Year of Light in your projects or programs? Let us know by leaving a comment, reaching out to us on Twitter (@informalscience), or sending us an e-mail at

image: Immanuel Giel CC BY-SA 3.0