There is considerable evidence from the physics education literature that traditional approaches are ineffective in teaching physics concepts. A better teaching method is to use the active learning environment, which can be created using interactive lecture demonstrations. Based on the active learning methodology and within the framework of the UNESCO mandate in physics education and introductory physics, the ALOP project (active learning in optics and photonics) was started in 2003, to provide a focus on an experimental area that is adaptable and relevant to research and educational conditions in many developing countries. This project is discussed in this paper.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.