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2002 SPS National Interns
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Lauren Glas Lauren Glas
Rhodes College, TN

Internship: SPS Outreach
Online Journal
Where are they now? Week of July 26, 2006 Week of July 5, 2006
Week of August 9, 2006 Week of July 19, 2006 Week of June 28, 2006
Week of August 2, 2006 Week of July 12, 2006 Week of June 21, 2006
 
Where are they now?

Lauren Glas Zarandona—2002 SPS Intern
Entry posted July 31, 2006

Since the completion of my internship in 2002, I graduated Rhodes College, moved to Mississippi in order to earn a Masters in Curriculum and Intruction from Ole Miss, and got married.

I teach secondary math and science in the Mississippi Delta. I am preparing for my fourth year as an educator. This year I will teach 7th and 8th grade pre-algegra in Arcola, Mississippi, a town of about 550 residents. The school is flanked on two sides by cotton fields and my daily drive to work takes me past 10 miles of corn, cotton, and soybean fields.

While preparing for daily lessons is different from creating a "SOCK," the idea is similiar: engage students in mathematics and science by presenting creative and focused lessons. My experience as the SPS intern not only gave me exposure to lesson planning, it also helped me decide to become a teacher- a decision that I will always be happy that I made.

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August 9 , 2002
Today is the second to last day of my internship. There is usually nothing particularly remarkable about the second to last day of anything; it isn't the first day and it isn't the last day, it is just a day in the middle that happens to be easy to mark on a calander. But today I finally realized a major lesson that the various mentors and experiences I have had this summer have been trying to teach me. A career in science is a balance between pure science and pure policy. This summer I have seen extremes of both: scientists at NASA who devote their lives to their research and politicians on the Hill who ultimately decide the worth of physics even if they have never taken a class in it. Over all, I have noticed that most of the scientists that I have met constantly try to balance and even reconcile the two extremes. As for myself, this summer I have worked primarily on the policy side of science by designing and marketing a product that is specifically geared towards bringing physics into classrooms and into communities. On the science side, I have seen a glimpse of what it is like to design ways of teaching physics. In this case the teaching has a very narrow range, but maybe in the future I will be able to broaden the scope of my efforts, especially as I use the materials for outreach over the next year. Whatever the case may be, I am glad to finally see how the experiences of my summer are already shaping my future besides just leading me towards a career; they are helping me to better understand physics for all that it is.

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August 2 , 2002

As I have been finishing up the SOCK User's Guide I have needed to learn a little more about general relativity. We are calling the SOCK "Dimensions in Physics" and general relativity certainly constitutes a dimension in physics that I have never really explored until this summer. It makes me realize that there are many dimensions to physics that I will never have the chance to fully explore or even begin to grasp if I have the chance to explore them. I think that the many layers that constitute the realm of physics help to make it that much more intriguing. Maybe the very same layers make it seem hard to comprehend to people outside of physics. Certainly I have come across many areas of physics that are hard for me to understand, but the difficulty do not deter me from the subject. Outreach efforts give physicists a chance to intrigue students from all backgrounds, yet I am not sure that they get successfully plant seeds into any soil.

Last night, while talking to Katie, I realized once more that there is a nagging in me to plant seeds that grow. I don't want to be misunderstood; I am not sure that it is possible for undergraduates to go beyond simple outreach efforts. This summer I learned that UNC-Ashville does a mutiple week program on Saturday mornings that I am sure has a more lasting effect, but nonetheless, this summer has really sparked a desire in me to teach high school physics (even though the idea has always frightened me in the past). Will I be 100 percent successful? Of course not. But I don't think that I will be satisfied with myself until I try.

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July 26, 2002
The end of the summer is rapidly drawing near. I feel like I have a lot to do, most of which I put on myself to do. The contents of the SOCK should be ready by early next week (after a few more trips to the University of Maryland woodshop). But I haven't finished writing the last few lesson plans for the User's Guide and I am finding the task enjoyable but difficult. I will finish, it just might take more than I realized to get it done well. I wonder if this is how my professors feel when they plan their lessons or write exams. It doesn't matter how familiar you are with the material in the end if you can't explain it well enough for the intended audience to get the message. Maybe I am hard on myself sometimes; nothing in the internship write-up said anything about perfection. So the finished product will not be perfection. It will be useful. Students of all ages will learn something that sticks for a long time, maybe even something that sparks imaginations and fuels desires to know more about our universe in a way that only science can explain.

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July 19 , 2002
The highlight of my internship thus far took place last week. I designed, planned, and tested a lesson on scaling, starting more or less from scratch. The lesson starts with a clip from the movie "Men In Black" where a giant roach eats one of the characters. The lesson then uses physics to explore the question "What would happen if a creature like that existed in real life?" Using model boxes and "robots" (boxes with legs and smiley faces) kids begin to develop an intuition for area and weight and the differences between the two. The best part of designing the lesson was writing the worksheet; it forced me to think like a kid again. By the fourth grade I had seen the word area plenty of times and calculated it for squares and rectangles, but I didn't really know the difference between area and volume because my conceptual understanding was minimal. So, for the lesson, I scrapped the technical terms and chose phrases that meant something immediately, like "foot surface" for the area for the box/robot that touches the table. In a test of lesson, the kids seemed to get the message that I was trying to present. Not all of the 12 kids that we presented the lesson to necessarily understand everything that we threw out at them over the 45 minutes, but most of them left knowing that the legs of the giant roach in MIB would buckle in real life. And they had fun learning, especially building the boxes and measuring the weight of each, so the experience was worthwhile to all involved.

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July 12, 2002
Everything time I think that I am close to getting something done I realize (well, Gary reminds me) that there are at least 20 things that I hadn't already thought of. For instance, when designing the polyhedra workshop for the SOCK, I can't just put in shapes and leave it at that, they have to be the right shapes, the right size, and all fit into one denim stocking. Overall, I think that the biggest lesson I have learned is that an email that needs to go to a large group of people needs to be carefully written and revised to avoid any controversy. Then again, I have yet to send the email that I keep revising so I might not avoid any controversy at all in the end. But in the end it is worth my while to know what I didn't think of so that I can think of it next time.

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July 5, 2002
I am finally starting to fully appreciate DC and all that it has to offer. I am no longer scared that I will get completely lost on the metro and I finally realized that the large brown mass on the corner of 22nd and Constitution (a corner that I run by I every morning) is actually an oversized statue of Einstein. Perhaps the best part about living here is that so many events are free. For example, on July 3 Katie and I went down to the Capitol lawn to listen to the dress rehearsal of the Capitol 4th concert. We were entertained by the making of the show; the flag dancers kept getting yelled at and the tenor wore khakis and an Adidas shirt but brought out his suit to prove that he could dress well. I can't say that the flag dancers performed any better for the show on the 4th, but the tenor wore the suit that he promised to wear and the fireworks made up for any aspects of the show that might not have been quite perfect.

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June 28, 2002

There are some life lessons that need to be learned over and over again. This week I was reminded of one of those lessons: you can't please everyone. In order to improve on the SOCK, I read comments from chapters that received one last year and then started to work on the User's Guide and content details for this year's SOCK. At first, I really wanted to account for everyone's suggestions. In the end, however, some can't be included. But, just like last year, the SOCK will include contents that give physics majors tools to teach with and that pleases me a great deal.

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June 21, 2002

Over the last week I spent a lot of time playing with blocks. I played with a variety of polyhedra that Dr. White roughly cut out of molding. I felt like I had returned to Mrs. Ebbert's 10th grade geometry class as I counted edges, vertices, and faces, eventually counting my way straight into Euler's Formula for polyhedra. Later in the week I focused my attention on cubes that have scalable volumes. Although the cubes will undoubtedly be useful for scaling lessons, when I look at them I think mainly of the difficult time I had simply finding them. This city is enormous. Getting lost in it seems to be something that I am quite good at.

However, this city also offers a chance to see how science operates on a political level. Last Wednesday I sat in on a Senate hearing regarding the doubling of NSF appropriations. At first, I was a little star-struck; Hillary Clinton was one of the senators on the committee and John Glenn testified about the need for directing increased NSF appropriations to science and math education. Soon I realized that the names of the people in attendance did not matter in the end; what mattered was that the outcome of the meeting would be forward progress on the road to doubled NSF funding. After a long push for increased funding by science foundations, it was excellent to see politicians agree that the physical sciences should not be neglected in an age obsessed with medical research.

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