The University of Southampton

Telecoms focus for new schools website

Published: 23 June 2005

A lively new website for schools, launched this week, focuses on telecommunications, providing a complete overview of the subject, capturing its excitement, and highlighting its many exciting opportunities.

The new M2M (Morse code to Multiplexing) website aims to brief students on everything they need to know for the telecommunications part of the GCSE examinations in Physics, Balanced Science and Applied Science and A-level Physics.

M2M has been produced by the School of Electronics and Computer Science (ECS), and the Optoelectronics Research Centre at the University of Southampton, and is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) as part of the Public Engagement in Science programme.

Dr Averil Macdonald, Co-ordinator of the M2M project commented: 'The telecommunications section of the school syllabus covers real cutting-edge science and often it's so new that few school textbooks cover the topic well. We are providing a complete overview of the subject for the students and their teachers. But we are also going further to show just how exciting this area of research is and how many opportunities there are in this field.'

The website, , includes revision guides, frequently asked questions and answers, quizzes for students to test themselves and exam tips. Students will be able to learn essential facts about optical fibres, telecommunications and lasers through animations that show how things work instead of relying on wordy explanations. Students can also take an interactive virtual tour of a laboratory where optical fibres are made.

The website simplifies the highly technical world of telecommunications by presenting key facts in an interesting and entertaining way, for example, it states that one strand of fibre is thinner than a human hair but 10 times stronger than steel of the same length and diameter; that light travels so fast in a fibre that it can go to New Zealand and back in 0.1 second and that one square inch of optical fibre could lift 216 six-tonne elephants.

There is also information about student life, how to find the right university course, and what it's like to be working at the cutting edge of science.

M2M was prepared by Professor James Wilkinson, Dr Alun Vaughan, and Dr Dan Hewak.

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