Students research particular types of lasers and find examples of how they are used in technology today. Teams present their findings by means of PowerPoint presentations, videos or brochures. The class takes notes on the presentations using a provided handout. This activity prepares students for the "go public" phase of the legacy cycle in which they solve the grand challenge by designing and producing a laser-based security system.
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- International Technology and Engineering Educators Association: Technology
- National Council of Teachers of Mathematics: Math
- precisely describe, classify, and understand relationships among types of two- and three-dimensional objects using their defining properties (Grades 6 - 8)  ...show
- recognize and apply geometric ideas and relationships in areas outside the mathematics classroom, such as art, science, and everyday life (Grades 6 - 8)  ...show
- understand relationships among the angles, side lengths, perimeters, areas, and volumes of similar objects (Grades 6 - 8)  ...show
- draw geometric objects with specified properties, such as side lengths or angle measures (Grades 6 - 8)  ...show
- Next Generation Science Standards: Science
- Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem. (Grades 6 - 8)  ...show
- Identify types of lasers and their functions.
- Describe laser applications in today's world.
- Select the most appropriate laser for the security system design.
- computer with Internet access
- word processing software, such as Word, Open Office, etc.
- presentation software application, such as Microsoft PowerPoint
- (optional) video cameras and video-editing software application, such as Movie Maker, I-Movie, etc.
- blank copy paper and markers (for groups that choose the option of making brochures)
- Laser Research Form, one per group per student (cut each sheet in half to create two forms)
|A device that emits coherent light through a specific mechanism. An acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.|
Before the Activity
- Have available enough computers with Internet access, as well as presentation, word processing and/or video editing software applications.
- Gather materials and make copies of the attached Laser Research Form, one per student per number of groups, for students to take notes on during the presentations. Each student may need several forms, depending on the number of presentations.
With the Students
- Describe the assignment to students.
- Divide the class into teams of two or three students each.
- Assign each group a laser type to research. Laser types: helium neon laser, argon laser, ruby laser, carbon dioxide laser, oxygen iodine laser, M-THEL (mobile tactile high energy lasers), etc.
- Give enough time for students to find information and create presentations. See the questions listed in the "Investigating Questions" section below. Make sure students address each of these in their presentations.
- After about 50 minutes of research and presentation preparation, begin the class presentations.
- Direct students who not presenting to take notes using the blank forms.
- Name/type of the laser
- What does this laser look like?
- What does the laser do?
- How is the laser used? Why is this laser particularly useful in these scenarios. In other words, what makes it better than other lasers for that particular function? Also, what makes the laser you researched unique compared to the other lasers you learned about?
- How has this laser affected inventions and innovations with other technologies?
Activity Embedded Assessment
- CO2 lasers. A type of gas laser that is driven electrically and has a wavelength of about 10.6 micrometers.
- Fiber lasers. A solid state laser supplied energy via pump diodes with a wavelength of about 1.064 micrometers.
- For lower grades, provide more time for research and compilation of information.
- For upper grades, allow less time for research and compilation of information, as might be the case in the real-world with deadlines and time limitations.
Dictionary.com. Lexico Publishing Group,LLC. Accessed August 7, 2008. (Source of vocabulary definitions, with some adaptation)
Townes, Charles H. (2003). "The First Laser," in Laura Garwin and Tim Lincoln: A Century of Nature: Twenty-One Discoveries that Changed Science and the World. University of Chicago Press, 107-12. ISBN 0-226-28413-1.
© 2013 by Regents of the University of Colorado; original © 2008 Vanderbilt University
VU Bioengineering RET Program, School of Engineering, Vanderbilt University
Last modified: November 30, 2015