Getting children excited about light and its potential to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges is the reason behind a UCF-sponsored photo contest that concludes May 30.

The study of light, also referred to as optics and photonics, is critical for the future, said Bahaa Saleh, dean of the College of Optics & Photonics.

“Light has revolutionized the way we do everything from communicating, to listening to music, to treating cancer and other deadly diseases,” Saleh said. “We are proactive in engaging students at the earliest possible levels because their lives are going to be increasingly impacted by photonics.”

That’s why CREOL, the college’s Center for Research and Education in Optics and Lasers, is sponsoring the photo contest that will reward a K-12 student with $100 for the best picture that shows how light touches our lives.

The contest began in April. Submissions so far have ranged from the lights of London as seen from the London Eye to the sun shrouded by early morning fog.

“Because 2015 has been designated as the International Year of Light we thought it would be great to get kids to consider how light touches our lives every day,” said Mike McKee, associate director for the college’s undergraduate programs, who organized the contest.

The contest is also a great way for students to learn about the possibilities that photonics represents for the future. CREOL is recognized worldwide for its photonics and laser research, and in 2013 it started its undergraduate program under McKee’s leadership. McKee is a former high school and middle school science teacher who has served as the state director of the Florida Science Olympiad since 1998.

Ideas such as the photo competition help engage students as young as kindergarten in recognizing the role that light and photonics plays in our daily lives. There’s still plenty of time to enter the contest and McKee said he hopes more students will submit pictures.

Photos can be uploaded at .