U Colorado Boulder Hosts Photo Origami STEM Workshops for K-12 Students

The University of Colorado Boulder is launching STEM workshops focused on its photo origami research for students in grades 6-12.

Funded by the National Science Foundation and housed at the university's College of Engineering and Applied Science, the CU-Boulder photo origami project is "developing new composite polymers that can fold into 3-D structures using light," according to a news release. The researchers from the project partnered with the university's science outreach program, CU-Boulder Science Discovery, to incorporate photo origami concepts into the workshops.

Though the photo origami "research is performed at a nanoscale in a million dollar optics lab, CU Science Discovery has found a way to model the process with $10 heat lamps and a common shape memory polymer — aka Shrinky Dinks," according to information released by the school.

Dubbed the Photo-Origami Research Experience and Mentorship Program, the six-week initiative is currently hosting eight students from Centaurus High School, Skyline High School and Northglenn High School.

After completing their own program, those students will use what they've learned to share and test their models with students aged 9-13 years in Science Discovery Summer Camps.

Down the road, the models and resources developed this summer will be used to help teachers and students understand photo origami through K-12 STEM workshops from Science Discovery.

"In my 17 years at CU, I have never known a program like this that can take our research and turn it into a challenging and fun activity," said Kurt Maute, professor of aerospace engineering sciences and co-investigator for the Photo-Origami Research Project, in a prepared statement. "The kids ask the same questions as our grad students. They are problem-solving and making adjustments; they are becoming engineers."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].