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About the Polarization Photo Contest

Polarization is a property of light which cannot be directly observed by normal human vision. Light is an electromagnetic wave that oscillates as it moves through space. Light is polarized when the vector describing the electric field changes in a predictable way over time. Unpolarized light has a randomly changing electric field vector and is unpredictable over time. Linearly polarized light has an electric field vector that continues to point in the same direction. In circularly or elliptically polarized light the electric field vector rotates in time.

Both manmade and natural materials can interact with the polarization state of light, which allows us to measure and observe this properly of light. By using a camera and a polarizer you can observe the polarization of light, and produce scientifically and visually interesting pictures. In this photo contest we have invited you, a Montana High School Student, to show us something interesting about the polarization of light or how a material interacts with the polarization of light.

Your Entry: To enter the contest, take an interesting photo using polarization or showing the way a material interacts with the polarization of light. Then write a description of the science behind your photo and how you took the photo. Follow these basic rules, and have fun!

  1. Photos must be taken by high school students
  2. Contest submission deadline: 10 March 2017
  3. Any camera can be used
  4. Any filter/ polarizing optic can be used (Basic linear polarizers will be provided on request)
  5. All photos must be accompanied by a short description (no more than one page) about how the photo was taken, why polarization is important, and what can be learned from the image
  6. All photos entered into the contest must be accompanied by a signed letter from the physics teacher at your school. Please submit a signed letter from the physics teacher at your school verifying that your entry is your own individual work. Please have your teacher email the letter to nakagawa[at]montana.edu from their school email address.
  7. Maximum two entries per person

Prizes: The Grand Prize winner of this contest will be invited to join a research team from Montana State University Bozeman as they observe the solar eclipse in August 2017! Other honorable mention winners will be invited to visit the Optics research laboratories at MSU and participate in Astronomy and Aerospace Day April 9th, 2017. This trip will include lab tours, a campus visit, and fun learning activities! Both prizes include round-trip transportation, lodging, and access to key facilities. Incidentals (such as meals) will not be included.

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