Fiber Optic Resources for Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math Teachers

STEM or STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and math – is the key to future success for everyone, especially students in schools today.

It’s our goal to introduce you, and help you to introduce your students, to the technology that makes much of the technology we use today possible – fiber optic communications – and show the STEAM topics related to it, including the arts – and make it entertaining and fun.


What’s “Fiber Optics”
Fiber optics is the primary medium we use to communicate today. Phones, landline or wireless, the Internet and cable TV all communicate on fiber optic cables. Even when you are using your cell phone, it’s not connected with a fiber optic cable, but the cell tower it’s connected to probably is.

Fiber optics carries signals as pulses of light while copper cables carry signals as pulses of electrons. As the photo below by  AT&T from the 1970s showed, one hair-thin fiber can carry more signals than the giant copper telephone cable in the photo. Today’s fibers can carry millions of times the data that that fiber could 40 years ago!

Fibre Optics Installation Vancouver BC

It’s easy to demonstrate how fiber works – we can do it with a sample of plastic fiber and a laser pointer like the photo below and shown in the YouTube video “Fiber Optics For Teachers – An Introduction.” Here are directions to do it yourself with the sample of plastic optical fiber (POF).

Fibre Optics Demo

Demo fiber optics in your classroom!

FOA has samples of this kind of fiber that we will send to teachers at schools in the US or you can find it at science distributors. Request a sample by sending an email to the FOA at <> with your name, the school where you teach and a mailing address.</>



Another demonstration you can do uses a larger plastic rod. FOA can provide instructions on how you can obtain materials to do this too.

Where is Fiber Used?
If you have ever wondered how you can download information from the Internet so fast or talk to someone anywhere in the world and hear them so clearly, it’s mainly because the connection is over fiber optics. You are communicating at the “speed of light.”

Basically all communications (phones, the Internet, etc.) depends on fiber optics. Fiber has replaced copper cables, wireless and satellites for worldwide communications links as shown in the photo below. It’s a NASA composite photo of the earth at night where lights show the centers of population. Overlaying a map of undersea fiber optic cables shows how they connect the places where the people are.

In the US, cables on the land connect all the population centers, providing the backbone for all phones and the Internet.

Today, fiber is being used to connect homes directly -famous  systems like “Verizon FiOS” and “Google Fiber” and hundreds of other local networks use fiber to connect the home with speeds up to 1 gigabit per second – that’s one billion bits of data every second, fast enough to download a movie in seconds.

Source: FOA – Fibre Optic Association


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