A summer of science and song

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Ultima semana... - Aug 8, 2008 at 11:04PM
135 Posts

It's hard for me to believe that my summer is over. But before I get reflective, a little about my last few days in DC...

My last week at work was pretty uneventful. We went to NIST for a tour, which was positively spectacular. We toured the NCNR and I enjoyed that a lot. At ACP, Mary and I shot the entire promotional video for the SOCK. It's not the best quality, but we had fun making it. A huge thanks to everyone who helped out!

Justin, Daniel, Paul, Barbara, Mary and I had a nice dinner on Friday night at a Lebanese restaurant. Paul and I finally made it to the Air and Space Museum on Saturday. Overall, I wasn't that impressed with it. Air and Space isn't exactly my favorite subject, and some of the exhibits were pretty dated. A few of the exhibits were pretty cool, specifically some of the space ones. On Sunday, Justin, Daniel, Paul and I drove up to Medieval Times, which was pretty spectacular. The acting was horrific, but we were there for the show as a whole, not for the acting. The rest of the week was fairly uneventful, as we all began the process of packing and cleaning our apartments in Schenley Hall.

To parallel my troubles getting into DC, I had quite a trip home. My direct flight was scheduled to leave at 9:20 on Thursday morning, so I went through security at DCA around 8:30. First, my flight was delayed until 10:10... then 1:00 pm... then it disappeared all together. The plane we were supposed to take hadn't even left Indy, due to "unscheduled maintenance." They canceled the flight and everyone rushed to book another flight. The next direct flight was booked, so I ended up going through Detroit and getting home roughly five hours after I was originally scheduled to land.

I really can't believe that this entire summer is over. This has been an absolutely wonderful and irreplaceable experience. For a while I've considered teaching as a possible career plan after college, but my teaching experience has been severely limited. I've learned this summer how much work goes into teaching: lesson plans, pedagogy considerations, time and supply limitations... it's insane. My SPS chapter doesn't do much in terms of educational outreach, so I had very little idea of what exactly I was getting into. But now I have an idea of how to do outreach like this and can help my chapter and other chapters in my zone. I'm really proud of the work Mary and I did on the SOCK; I hope it's effective. At the beginning of the summer, I felt rather lazy, thanks to my physics-empty semester in Madrid. This summer has put me back on track and I feel prepared for my last year at Rhodes.

For me however, the most important thing is always the people that I meet. I am so grateful to have met and learned from Gary, Kendra, Liz, and the entire Education staff. I learned so much from Erin and the others at MRSEC too. I was impressed by everyone's passion. At SPS, it seems as though great ideas just float around in the air, there are so many!  MRSEC has been teaching summer camps for free for years. None of the counselors were experts in what we taught; we learned right alongside with the kids. And the other interns? Some of the best people I've met. I can't thank them enough for sharing this experience with me. We shared apartments, Metro rides, dinners, stories, and our experiences. I'm less than 48 hours away and already it seems odd not to have everyone around all the time.

In short, this internship has been everything I thought it would be, and more. Much love, and I'll see you in November!

Novena semana... - Aug 2, 2008 at 6:50PM
135 Posts

I can't believe this was our last full week in DC...

Work has been craaaazy this week. Mary and I spent Monday making sure that everything was in tip-top shape for our joint presentation. We tweaked our presentation, figured out the demonstration, made lots and lots of polarizers, and divided the speaking parts. We were a little anxious, but by the end of the day, we felt our presentation was in pretty good shape. Tuesday was practice day, and it was very useful. There will always be a few kinks, but our practice showed us the bigger ones. Gary, Kendra, and Liz provided great constructive criticism and helped us improve our presentation. I was pretty nervous before our practice. It's always harder for me to present to people that I know and respect than it is for me to present in front of a group of nameless people. Wednesday was the big day! Presentations! Mary and I were scheduled to present just after Meagan's presentation and the break. I didn't get nervous until Meagan began and it lasted until... oh, the second slide of our presentation. After that, I got used to it and really enjoyed our presentation. The audience was like a huge group of elementary school students with the Boomwhackers and I think our activity went quite well. In all, I was very pleased with how our final presentation turned out. I think every single one of the interns did a great job, both with their presentations and battling nerves.

This week also marked the end of my time at MRSEC. Thursday and Friday were my last two days at the Nanoscience camp. I've had a great time at MRSEC this summer and I was sad to leave the office for the last time on Friday. I learned so much and got a lot of practice teaching and helping others to learn. I had to teach things that I was by no means an expert on, so I learned alongside with the kids, which was a lot of fun. Plus, where else can I spend time at the International Spy Museum, or make silly putty, or race hovercrafts?

On Sunday, all the interns were invited to a picnic at Gary's house. It was nice to just chill and enjoy each other's company for a while. We sat, talked, ate, played Rock Band, and later shot a little basketball. We played Horse and after losing to Gary's son due to two consecutive over-the-backboard shots, Daniel and I both lost to Gary. It felt good to have a basketball in my hands again. Gary was also kind enough to sing his own rendition of "Roxanne" and it certainly merited many rounds of applause. Other than that, this has been a fairly quiet week. I felt a little sick so I stayed in when I could have gone out, but it was very relaxing.

Now that presentations are done, it's crunch time with getting the SOCK done. I finished a rough draft of my last lesson on Thursday. Now Mary and I are going to focus on getting the promotional video shot and edited, which should provide us with many fun times. I also have to start thinking about everything I have to do when I get home and then when I get back on campus. It's an exciting time, that's for sure!

Octava semana... - Jul 26, 2008 at 12:24PM
135 Posts

How has this summer gone by so quickly?

I spent most of this week at MRSEC, with the Mission: Impossible camp. Middle school students learn the science of spying. We covered things from microdots and hydrophobic sand to ciphers and lasers. The camp was my favorite so far and I learned a lot of interesting stuff too. My favorite part actually took place the one day I wasn't at camp: the Final Mission. I loved setting up all the different stations and clues that the agents would have to go through to solve the mystery. The mystery this year was my disappearance. Since I wasn't going to be there, we shot a video of me being "kidnapped" by the other absent counselor. The agents had to work together to put together the clues to find out where I had been taken. They had to use everything they'd learned that week, from ciphers, laser mazes, blacklight, and night vision goggles, to infrared thermometers, hydrophobic sand and memory wire. It was fairly complex, but I had a pretty good guide from last year, which helped a lot. I only wish I'd been able to see how the kids reacted to it! While my campers were solving clues as to my whereabouts, I went to work at ACP and worked with Mary on finalizing the sound lessons and blocking out the next lesson. We had to stop early though... because we had a tour of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, where Paul and Daniel work. Everything we saw was really cool and I walked around with my mouth open for most of the tour. There was probably a little bit of star struck in my eyes. I only wish we'd been able to see where Paul and Daniel actually work.

Other than work stuff... Mary and I tried to see Mamma Mia last Friday, but the theater was sold out, so we joined everyone else for a long wait and then dinner at TGI Friday's. Meagan, Daniel, Kunal, Paul and I went to Chesapeake Beach on Sunday. It was a man-made beach and the water was quite dirty, but I was happy to be on a beach with friends again! We also got a lot of messy seafood for lunch... yum, shrimp! Daniel, Paul and I finally got to see Dark Knight, which I really enjoyed. I thought it was a solid movie and I really enjoyed it. I even enjoyed the walk home in the rain! Thursday, Paul and I went out to Wolf Trap to see Not the Messiah! with the National Symphony Orchestra and Eric Idle. It was essentially Monty Python's The Life of Brian in musical form. The creation team is the same team that worked on Spamalot and the music and lyrics didn't disappoint. I look forward to seeing it as a full blown Broadway show... and being able to say that I heard the music before it was on Broadway!

This weekend, I've got to work on my presentation, last lesson for the SOCK, and a grant proposal for my research at school. In spite of all that work, it's looking to be quite a fantastic weekend!

Post edited July 26, 2008 at 12:26 PM EST.

Septima semana... - Jul 18, 2008 at 3:49PM
135 Posts

Oh mi oh my. Where to begin?

Well, we'll start with work. This week at MRSEC was the Science, Engineering and You! camp. I feel as though I've gotten a lot of experience teaching this week. By the end of the first day, we all had an idea of each of the kids' personalities. I never knew you could see it so easily! We did a lot of fun things this week... made Oobleck, walked to a lake, and grew water crystals. I fell in love with the campers in the three days that I was there. However, I'm more certain than ever that I don't want to teach elementary school. I enjoy doing outreach in elementary schools, but I wouldn't enjoy it hour after hour, day after day. I have enormous respect for elementary school teachers for keeping up with these kids' energy! I was okay in the mornings, but after lunch their energies soared while mine plummeted. I'm really excited about next week's camp, Mission: Impossible, which has got to be the coolest camp I've ever seen. My few hours at ACP this week have been spent finishing up the high school Boomwhacker lesson, which is due today. I really enjoy my time at ACP and it's a shame that I have so few actual full days left here. It seems that every day I'm at ACP from now until the end of summer I have something else to do... NASA tour, NIST tour, presentation practice, or presentations.

Last weekend, one of my best friends came to DC with his family. I hadn't seen Stephen since December and it was great to see him again. On Saturday, we passed through the National Building Museum before meeting his parents for dinner. They took us out to this fantastic Italian restaurant and then out to a Capitol Steps performance, which was the funniest thing I've seen in a while. Afterwards, Stephen and I went to a piano bar with Paul and Justin. It was packed but worth it, because they played one of my favorite songs... "Walkin' in Memphis."

The week has had quite a few exciting events as well. On Wednesday, I made dinner for the other interns and we ate a lot of stuff that kids eat. We had ants-on-a-log, pigs-in-blankets, chicken nuggets, and dirt cups. Lots of thanks to Paul and Justin, who helped with the ants-on-a-log and pudding! Unfortunately, the dishes are still sitting in the sink. On Thursday, we slipped out of work early to go to a tour of the Pentagon. It was pretty cool to see the inside. That place is huge! Right after the tour, we headed back to College Park to a BBQ/cookout/picnic at the Dylla's. I had an amazing time. The food was delicious (almost as good as my Memphis BBQ!) and it was nice to hang out with everyone from ACP outside of the office. The best part had to be when Linda got out her huge SuperSoaker and we had a water gun war. I will acknowledge that Daniel got me really soaked when he lured me to the front of the house where he'd found the water hose. The all-out war ended on a peaceful toast though.

I'm torn right now. I've been hit more steadily with homesickness this week and August 12th (my date of return to Memphis) can't come soon enough. On the other hand, we only have two and a half weeks left of summer and I can tell you that I am NOT ready for it to be over.

Post edited July 18, 2008 at 4:32 PM EST.

Sexta semana... - Jul 11, 2008 at 2:38PM
135 Posts

True to expectations, this week has been another spectacular week in DC!

This week at the ACP, Mary and I worked on finishing the rough drafts of our polarization lessons, working on the Boomwhacker lessons, and figuring out what else we needed to do for the SOCK. I'm a little worried because I have less than a day left at the ACP before our next deadline and my Boomwhacker lesson still needs a lot of work. I can spend a few hours working on it this weekend though. We've finally figured out when and how to do one of our lessons at MRSEC. At MRSEC this week, we've been working a lot to get everything in line for next week's Science, Engineering, and You camp. I'm leading an observation activity the first day and a conductivity lesson the third day along with the Boomwhacker SOCK lesson on the fourth day. I've had a lot of fun taking very zoomed-in photos for the observation activity! We've also been planning the Mission: Impossible Camp and that's going to be even more exciting.

I spent last Saturday afternoon walking the memorials with two friends from Spain, Mary and Priya. Mary had come to visit us for the day and it was amazing to spend time with her. On Sunday, huge group of interns went up in the Washington Monument and viewed DC from up high. When we got home, Kunal and I rushed to the television to catch the thrilling last set of the Wimbledon Gentlemen's Singles Final. I was so excited for Nadal's win that I shed a few tears. Monday, I had dinner with a friend from home and Tuesday I had dinner with the other ACP interns, Jack, Jerry, and Dr. Layman before seeing The Mystery of Irma Vep at the Arena Stage. Wednesday was our breakfast with Senator Herb Kohl from Wisconsin (muchas gracias a Justin for setting it up!) and Capitol Tour. It was really interesting, though I wish we'd gotten to see the votes that happened about 30 minutes after we left the Senate Chamber. Wednesday's dinner was a culinary delight, thanks to Kunal who was paying up on the Wimbledon bet he lost. Paul's friend Bob has been in town all week, so I spent Thursday night with them, playing some new video game that is a cross between Monopoly and Magic: The Gathering. Quite an enjoyable way to spend the evening, actually.

To close, I'd just like to mention that Mary is an absolutely fantastic partner in crime. The genius moment of the week came when she realized we could use tension curtain rods instead of 4 foot long PVC pipes. And she's finished a huge chunk of the SOCK documentation while I've been off working at MRSEC for the second half of the week. Could I ask for a better SOCK partner? I think not.

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Re: Sexta semana...   (Mary - Jul 11, 2008 at 3:25PM)
Quinta semana... - Jul 5, 2008 at 12:35PM
135 Posts

This last week has been full, full, full!

I split my work week this week, spending the first two days at MRSEC and Wednesday and Thursday at ACP. It was a planning week at MRSEC, so we tried out the activities that students will do in the next three or four weeks and wrote lesson plans for a few of them. I'm really excited about the Mission Impossible camp. We had a huge surge of great ideas on Tuesday and it promises to be a fantastic camp. At ACP, I worked on editing a lesson plan and considering possible ways to ramp up an elementary lesson plan for high schoolers.

Outside of work, I've had a blast. Last Saturday, a huge group of us went to Baltimore. We went by train and car, arriving at the aquarium around 10. We saw all of the National Aquarium then headed over to the Maryland Science Center to see Body Worlds, which was pretty darn amazing. For dinner, we went to the Oceanaire, a really nice seafood restaurant. Paul and I watched the European Championships with a huge group of Germany fans, who were all disappointed when Spain won (as I knew they would!). Mary and I had a bet on the game, so she made me a delicious dinner on Monday night. I've continued to meet up with a lot of other friends this week. I had dinner with my friend Caroline on Monday, then celebrated my friend Priya's 21st at La Tasca.

National holiday meant no work on July 4th! A huge group of us went to the parade along Constitution and saw all the bands and floats. I learned a lot about marching bands sitting next to Barbara and Mary! We split up a little then, and Justin, Paul, Mary, Barbara, Mary's friend Lizzie, and I all went to the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival for a little while. For the fireworks, we were all split again, but Barbara, Daniel, Paul and I managed to get standing room at the bottom of the Lincoln Memorial. We used our diffraction glasses (of course!) and passed some out as well. After everyone returned home, we had a rematch of Spades and then I watched part of 1776, the musical about the signing of the Declaration.

This coming week holds a lot of promise too: sightseeing with friends from Spain, dinner with a friend from church, and the men's Wimbledon final (VAMOS RAFA!). It's depressing to think that this summer is more than half over, so I'm just going to think that I still have more than a month at my wonderful jobs and with my wonderful friends!

Cuarta semana... - Jul 1, 2008 at 12:24AM
135 Posts

If nothing else, this week has certainly been eventful. I try to keep my entries relatively short but it's just been that kind of a week.

First big event: the ACP picnic. I returned to ACP on Monday, ready to prep for the picnic later that afternoon. Got in and realized that we actually didn't need much preparation, which was a good thing, since our CNSF posters still weren't finalized. After a morning of editing, we sent them off to the printers (angels sang the Hallelujah chorus when we were done!) with just enough time to run downstairs and set up our demo rooms for the ACP picnic. I stuck in the Rainbow Room while Mary took the Waves and Boomwhackers room. I think the Rainbow Room was a success; everyone left entertained (good thing at a picnic) and interested in the various spectrums the diffraction glasses created. The Waves and Boomwhackers room would have benefited from more planning and preparation, I think. I wish I'd been here last week so I could have helped more!

Second big event: Senate hearing. Wednesday morning, Mary, Meagan, Logan and I went to a Senate energy committee hearing on global warming and new energy technology. I certainly felt sorry for the witness who presented; a senator told him, If I were you, I'd never make that presentation again. It was an interesting event though; I'd never been to a hearing. I didn't even know they were open to the general public.

Third big event: CNSF exhibit. The CNSF exhibit Wednesday evening was like nothing that I'd experienced before. Our booth was visible as soon as you walked in the door, and there were lots of people milling about. Every once in a while, Jack, Liz, or Meagan (schmoozer extraordinaire) would point out a congressperson or important person for us and we'd introduce them to our poster and explain to them what we we're doing with physics and science education. We got to meet some really cool people, like a few congressmen and the director and deputy director of NSF*. I wasn't expecting to be that calm during the exhibit, or to have as much fun as I did.

Fourth big event: Schenley's leak. Apparently Schenley (our dorm) has a leak. They don't know where it is, so they're moving everyone who is in a room ending in 04 or 06. Meagan and I would be the only interns to move and originally they wanted to move us to different rooms in different dorms. Needless to say, Thursday night was not a fun night as we contemplated leaving all the other interns. A HUGE thank-you to Liz who called GW Housing for us. They've agreed to move us into the other room down the hall, room 608. I'm over the moon right now; half a summer apart from the other interns would have been a nightmare.

So this stressful week is ending on a happy note. Next week shows promise of being a good one: moving into a new room, a trip to Baltimore, my friend's birthday, and the fourth of July. I can't wait!

*NSF: National Science Foundation

Tercera semana... - Jul 1, 2008 at 12:21AM
135 Posts

All in all, this week has been a very full and happy week. Not many Metro delays, which has been a blessing! The only transportation delays were on the University of Maryland campus, which was host to the National History Day competition this week.

I spent this entire week at MRSEC, which was a complete turn around from previous weeks. I was a counselor for the Engineering Design and Products camp for rising tenth-graders. When I think back on all that we did this week, I can't believe it. We created wind cars and trash picker-uppers from random materials. We did plastic and metal casting (I've been proudly wearing my plastic bracelet since Tuesday!). At the end of the week, we made hovercrafts too and the students not only raced them, but also got to take them out to the fountain on the University of Maryland s mall. My favorite part of this week has definitely been working with the students one-on-one and working with the other camp counselors.

Life at Schenley Hall has continued splendidly. Last weekend we went in as a group and bought two controllers for Guitar Hero. Needless to say, the past week has been filled with lots of us playing Guitar Hero. Everyone that is, except for Meagan, who refuses to play. Most of us play on medium, but Kunal rocks out on hard. Last night, Kunal, Justin and I went for a long walk over to the Jefferson Memorial, with stops by the Lincoln and George Mason memorials as well. It was gorgeous at we got lots of great pictures. On our way, we stopped by the Potomac and hung out in the willow trees and fireflies for a while. I was also thrilled to have dinner with a friend from school this week. It was good to see her after so much time.

I look at the upcoming week and know that the first half will be stressful and the second half a little less so. On Monday, we're doing demos for the ACP picnic and on Wednesday evening Mary, Logan and I are presenting at the CNSF* exhibit. Wish us luck!

CNSF: Coalition for National Science Funding

Segunda semana... - Jul 1, 2008 at 12:20AM
135 Posts

If I thought last week was a whirlwind, I was badly judging the week. This week has been even more hectic. Make sure and check out the pictures that we've started putting online!

On the work front, I began the second half of my job, working at MRSEC* at the University of Maryland with their summer camps. Most of my time there was spent working through activities that the campers are going to have to complete next week, like building a car, a trash-picker upper, and a hovercraft. The hovercraft we built was really awesome, it moves on ground and on water. At ACP this week, we did two classroom outreach lessons. We went to Yorktown High School and taught a lesson on polarizers and then taught another lesson on sounds waves to the elementary students at Tuckahoe Elementary. The Tuckahoe lesson planning was certainly a learning experience. We spent a lot of time planning the polarization lesson for Yorktown, then came to the decision that third-graders would be hard pressed to grab the concept of polarization. We threw together a lesson at the last minute (I can just hear my nuclear physics professor scolding me for that ) and worried just about everyone who was working on the outreach, including Gary. After a massive effort by us all though, we pulled through and I think the kids really enjoyed the lesson. A huge thanks to Meagan, Logan, and Justin for helping Mary and I with these outreach lessons this week and an especially big thanks to Gary for all his help with both lessons.

Outside of the office, we went to the Nationals game last Friday. It was an un-exciting game (Nationals lost 10-1), but it was great to spend time with others from SPS and from the Executive Council. On Saturday, Meagan, Kunal, and Logan got up at the crack of dawn for a day of sight-seeing and the rest of us slept in and joined them around 5 pm at the National Archives. Our evenings here have been filled with lots of fun, cooking, and talking. I was especially excited to have dinner on Thursday with my friend Priya. We went to a Spanish restaurant in Chinatown and feasted on all of the food we both missed from our semester in Spain.

What I've learned this week: the last meeting before an event is the most important and I should make all efforts to be there. This week I missed the last planning meeting for the Yorktown outreach and was struggling to catch up on what I'd missed. Lesson learned. Other lessons from the week: Paul and Kunal can't play Wii bowling. My wonderful roommate Meagan would also like me to add that we learned that Kunal and Logan can't play Spades.

MRSEC: Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
ACP: American Center for Physics
SPS: Society of Physics Students

Primera semana... - Jul 1, 2008 at 12:20AM
135 Posts

This week has certainly been a whirlwind of activity. I had about 36 hours between arriving from my semester in Spain and leaving for my summer in Washington. It was a hectic 36 hours, but I made it through with only a little bit of jet lag! I flew into Washington amid wind, rain, and lightning on Saturday and got settled in our home for the summer.

I couldn't have asked for better hall and roommates than the other interns. We re essentially the only ones on our hall and we've been having a blast, whether it be trooping out in the rain under our family-size AIP* umbrella or spending an hour laughing at various YouTube videos. Our two big events for the week were a Cranium game on Monday and last night s family dinner. The entire group participated in the Cranium game, but Meagan and Logan won handily, with Justin and me coming in a close second. Yesterday, Justin volunteered to cook dinner for everyone, so after pigging out on nachos for an hour or so, we stuffed our faces with fajitas as well. It was great because everyone really did their part for the dinner, whether it was cutting up food or volunteering to do the dishes.

It s been a busy week at work as well. My job is to work at SPS developing the SOCK (along with Mary) and to work at for MRSEC s summer camps at the University of Maryland. Since preparation for the camps doesn't begin until next week, I've been at the ACP all week. Mary and I have our work cut out for us trying to improve on last year s fantastic SOCK, but we're going to give it our all! This year s theme is waves and we've been ordering all kinds of materials for demonstrations and experiments. Next week we re heading to Yorktown High School and Tuckahoe Elementary to try out some of our ideas, so next week's entry will surely be accompanied by lots of photos!

*As all the interns learned on Monday, acronyms can be confusing, so here s a quick guide:

AIP: American Institute of Physics
SPS: Society of Physics Students
SOCK: SPS Outreach Catalyst Kit
MRSEC: Materials Research Science and Engineering Center
ACP: American Center for Physics

Introducción - Jul 1, 2008 at 12:19AM
135 Posts

Hello! I'm Jenna Smith, from Rhodes College in Memphis, TN. I'll be a senior physics major in the fall. I've been active in SPS since I was a freshman and represented Zone 10 as the Associate Zone Councilor at last year's Council meeting. This summer I'll be working on the SPS Outreach Catalyst Kits for part of the summer and teaching middle schoolers physics at the University of Maryland for the other part, which is great, since my ultimate goal is to teach physics.

Outside of physics, my interests range from Spanish to the arts. I love the Spanish language (it's my minor) and have spent the last semester studying abroad in Madrid, Spain. I also adore music, dance and theatre. I listen to almost any kind of music and love singing along. I'm really looking forward to this summer!


Hey y'all! - Jul 1, 2008 at 12:18AM
135 Posts

What does the summer of 2008 hold in store?

Physics, two great jobs, amaaaaazing friends, lots of fun, a hotbed of culture, and plenty of opportunities.

This is yet another place to post my journal entries for my 2008 SPS Summer Internship, which you can also read (with pictures!) at: http://www.spsnational.org/programs/internships/2008/index.htm


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