The Biophotonics Group has an active and effective outreach programme to industry, students and the public.   We recognize the importance of inspiring, encouraging, guiding, and connecting people with an interest in our technology.  

Dr Frederique Vanholesbeeck

Science Leader - Physicist


Neelam Hari

MSc student


Zak Whiting

BSc student


Interactive Playground / Beambox

The “Interactive Playground- Beambox” project was an innovative concept to address the lack of public engagement in many areas of physics, especially in young people.  It was realised by the University of Auckland in collaboration with Auckland Live, Auckland University of Technology and Colab, and with the financial support of Government’s “Unlocking Curious Minds” initiative.  

In 2015, the first piece of the project came alive. Mentors worked with university students to collaboratively design and build a physical installation of mobile interactive cubes that allowed people to play with light and physics. 

1.    Beambox at Summer in the Square festival
The installation Beambox was launched in December 2015 during Auckland Live's Summer in the Square festival at Aotea Square. It was facilitated at the square for two weeks, where festival-goers, passer-bys and the general public had the opportunity to interact with the installation and learn more about light and the electromagnetic spectrum.

2.    Day at Auckland Live workshops
A 5-day programme with groups of primary-school students from schools across Auckland who participated in mini workshops.

Neelam Hari was involved in the organisation and execution of a session introducing the students to light-based communication via mini Beambox light communicators, which display the light communication in the installation itself. The students explored light, sound and how it is used in our modern-day communication. By using household items, such as mirrors, rubber bands, lenses, sunglasses, the students learnt more about the way light travels, the properties of light and linking that to how we use it in communication.

3.    Beambox Day
Beambox Day was a family-based event which included a Physics walk-through workshop for people of all ages, especially younger children with their parents.
The workshop was facilitated by Physics experts. People had the opportunity to experiment with the mini Beambox light communicators, and learn about how light plays a big role in our communication today. 
Younger kids (even adults) had the chance to make their own cardboard trumpet, which made squawky noises, not so pleasant to the outside ear, but they learnt more about what sound is and how sound is made. There was also a facilitated colouring station, where kids could colour their favourite Beambox character and fold it into their very own cube to take home.



4.    2017 MOTAT Science Fair

Visitors to the 2017 MOTAT Science Street Fair explored the new music composition capability of the Beambox.  

As part of his summer project Zak had modified each box so it transmitted an audio track, consisting of a single instrument part. When the boxes are combined the layers of instruments built until the full ensemble was playing. He had composed two pieces of music – a pop song and a rock song. Both pieces featured a kick drum, bass, piano/keyboards, guitar, snare drum, violin and cymbals.



Physics Department

The University of Auckland

© 2017 Biophotonics Auckland