The Dark Skies Rangers (DSR) educational kits are getting a face-lift! With the advent of the International Year of Light in 2015 (IYL2015), these kits will morph into official IYL “Cosmic Light” cornerstone-themed “Quality Lighting Teaching Kits”. The United Nations-sanctioned IYL2015 is going to provide an opportunity to increase public awareness of quality lighting and energy conservation through efficient lighting design and practices. These kits will emphasise the use of proper optical design in achieving quality lighting that promotes both energy efficiency and energy conservation of an endangered natural resource, our dark skies.  The proposed effort will leverage off of the preceding kit (the DSR or “Dark Skies and Energy Education” kits). The National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) has extensive experience in creating education programs in optics, illumination engineering and dark skies awareness. We will seek to increase public awareness of quality lighting issues through online tutorials, teaching kits, and hands-on activities. NOAO staff members who are experts in the development of kits and curricula for school, museums, pubic, and afterschool programs will lead the efforts.

NOAO has considerable experience in kit design, dissemination, and professional development of educators. NOAO created and trained afterschool leaders on six Hands-On Optics modules with partners, SPIE and OSA, by conducting nearly 30 two-day workshops for educators. NOAO has since created and tested an educationally-sound teaching kit on the effects of light pollution that is used across the United States and in Chile, Europe, and 12 countries in sub-Saharan Africa. We will use the experience gained with our “Dark Skies and Energy Education” kit in creating our quality lighting education kit for IYL 2015. We will explore the concepts and practice of “quality lighting” through demonstrations, hands-on/minds-on activities, formative assessment probes, and engineering design projects that explore basic principles of optics and the physics of light. The impact of the kits will be amplified by providing professional development using tutorial videos created in our NOAO studio and conducting training via Google+ Hangouts for the outreach volunteers. This IYL2015 kit will contain materials for activities that help students identify and reduce wasteful/inefficient lighting, thereby conserving energy and cost. Hence the program will educate participants on how to solve a worldwide problem locally by learning how to light responsibly and thereby improve their quality of life, in “illuminating” ways.

The network dissemination partners (helping with design concepts) will be the International Dark-Sky Association, SPIE (the international society for optics and photonics), and CIE (the International Commission on Illumination). If you might be interested in using a kit in 2015, here are a couple of steps to take:
1) Check to see if you have an IDA, SPIE or CIE chapter in your area by visiting their websites.
2) Send that information and your contact information to Connie Walker at cwalker (at) using the phrase in the Subject Line: “IYL2015 Quality Lighting Teaching Kits”.