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2006 SPS National Interns
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Katherine Zaunbrecher
Katherine Zaunbrecher
University of Louisiana - Lafayette, LA

Internship: SPS Outreach/ComPADRE Student Collection
Online Journal
Week of August 4, 2006 Week of July 14, 2006 Week of June 23, 2006
Week of July 28, 2006 Week of July 7, 2006 Week of June 16, 2006
Week of July 21, 2006 Week of June 30, 2006 Week of June 9, 2006
Week of August 4, 2006
I know it's time to return home. I am going through cello withdrawals and I need someone to pass clubs with.

I'm trading in the busy city night life for the star strewn sky. Bike rides across campus and car rides through the country will replace my daily metro and bus rides. No longer will I acknowledge the tall stone monuments and statues. I will instead pay homage to the ancient oak trees and fields of rice that I pass by. Fiddle, guitar, bass, and drums will fill by ears instead of the music on my iPod. And I will even sacrifice being in in one hundred degree weather in order to speak French with my friends.

The final stretch went well. Everything fell into place. I was so impressed with everyones' final presentations. It was great getting to hear more in depth about each of our experiences. I was very nervous...and I know that we all had butterflies on our last day. But the rehersal the day before really helped. And I have to say that we all passed with flying colors.

This experience has been unforgettable. Packing up to go home and saying goodbye to everyone was difficult. I'll miss all of you. Keep in touch. And thanks for making this summer a great one.

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Week of July 28, 2006
It was Christmas on Thursday. Everything that I had been waiting for to come in for the SOCK did. The only thing left to do is put the finishing touches on the user's guide and put them all together once the actual "socks" come in. It's very satisfying to see the end result of our work. Now we have to wait for the fall semester to begin to contact the chapters and see who is interested in receiving one.

The last day in the office I spent some time with Dave discussing everything that I had put together that week. All of the lists are made and he made some additions to the letter I wrote to send out to the chapter advisors about local scholarships. Working with the folks at ComPADRE has been very exciting. It's neat to see what goes on behind the scenes of an outstanding and very useful undergraduate website.

Since this was the last week in the city, my tourist mode was in full blast. I wanted to see everything that I had not had the opportunities to. Friday was my friend, Alicia's, last day working at the Phillips Collection. Tyler and I met her and some of the others who worked there at Dupont Circle for dinner. I saw the Capitol Steps, thanks to Tyler. They were quite entertaining. I spent an afternoon at the National Gallery of Art and the sculpture garden there. My friend Misti, who has been around DC for the summer, invited me to American University to hear Dr. Gary Weaver speak on cross- cultural communications. He made a good point about stereotypes and boundaries that one often has to encounter when dealing with people outside our own culture. I finally made it to Arlington cemetery. Tyler took me there to see the silent drill at the US Marine Corps memorial (aka Iwo Jima). He and I also decided to walk to Haines Point to see the sculpture "The Awakening." It was one of the best pieces I have ever seen. The journey there was quite long but definitely worth it. There are some very interesting, not-so-well know things to see around here.

On Monday night, I had an adventure at the airport. When I was there with Tyler to meet his aunt, we were approached by a young woman from Mexico who attempted to ask us, in Spanish, where she could buy a calling card. Once we each realized that we could not understand one another, I offered her my cell phone to make a call. At first, she tried to call Mexico, which, luckily for me, she could not reach. After waiting for an hour for her ride, they called my phone again. I answered it and sought her out among the crowd, showing her that she had a call. After a while on the phone, I realized that she was supposed to be in Seattle, Washington, and not Washington DC. I tried to explain that to her. When she finally realized what was happening, she took the news quite well. After over two hours of walking around the airport, we found someone at the Continental baggage claim who spoke Spanish and agreed to help her. I wonder if she was able to get a flight in the early morning. (It was entirely too late for her to fly that night.)

The week ended well. I was very tired once Friday came around. On Thursday, Tylers' parents flew in to visit him. That night he and I went to the French embassy (thanks to Misti again) for a diplomatic reception. We didn't get to meet anyone terribly important and didn't have loads of wine and cheese, but there were some delicious pastries (which ended up being my dinner). And I didn't find anyone who spoke French. I think that I am going to be a little rusty this semester because of my lack of parlez-vous-ing.

We are all busy putting the finishing touches on our final presentations. One last weekend with the gang. It's going to be a busy one. The final countdown has begun.

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Week of July 21, 2006
Only one full week of work left and the SOCK is not done! My work load for The Nucleus has stayed the same as I've been scratching things off of my task list. But as far as the SOCK goes only a few of the materials have arrived. Finishing the user's guide is the most daunting task. I feel like it's never going to be done! But it must. It will. Jackie has submitted her written portion since she is leaving for the AAPT meeting on Saturday. That has helped out a lot. And Gary is helping out as well. They will both be back later next week so I'll be completing the text, proofreading and editing, and corresponding with them via email In order to finish it.

For those of you that have been dying to know what is going to be placed in the SOCK

There is a steady trickle of books coming in from Amazon. I thought that it would be a good idea to put a copy of Tom Shachtman s Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold in each one so that any of the SPS students who were interested in doing some extra reading before they performed their outreach on cold physics could do so. The happy/unhappy balls have come in and are ready to distribute. I am writing an experiment to include in the guide. Each chapter will be asked to fill out their data sheets and return them to AIP so that we can use the data. This will hopefully be an incentive for the students to go out to local elementary, middle, and high schools to perform the experiment. Mood beads, liquid crystal thermometers, and liquid crystal sheets will be included to teach about liquid crystals and ways of measuring temperature. I'm still waiting on the instant hot and cold packs, thermometers, and hand boilers. Rainbow glasses and SPS bubble pens will also be in the kits. I'm so excited. Next week I will get to see everything come together.

Last weekend was packed. There was more touring of the city with Sarah, the party at Gary's on Saturday, mass at the National Shrine, the intern dinner, relaxing and swimming in Vienna, and exploring the National Mall and National Museum of the American Indian. Sarah left on Tuesday morning but she was able to tour NIST with us. The night before she left we went out to eat sushi and then see all of the monuments at night. I was also given the opportunity to tour the capitol with the rest of the interns and Liz (thanks to Jackie)! With only two more weekends here, there is still so much I'd like to see.

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Week of July 14, 2006
What a week! The weekend fun began after work on Friday with the party at Liz's. The jambalaya, salsa, and badminton were all hits. We told Liz she'd have to give us the recipe for the salsa to put into our "Intern's Recipe Book." On Saturday I watched the World Cup final. Viva Italia! The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing, cleaning, and preparing for my sister, Sarah. She flew from Louisiana and is spending a week with me. So once she arrived on Monday I spent the afternoons with her and Tyler, touring the city. On Thursday we visited Dr. Hollerman, Noah, and Charles at Goddard. (Dr. Hollerman is a professor at UL Lafayette and Charles and Noah are/were grad students there.) After I realized that they were working there for the summer I contacted them and set up a tour. They showed us around their lab, where they use a really big gun to simulate impacts on planets. And we showed up right before they did a run, so we were able to s!
ee them shoot it!

My undergraduate research clearinghouse search is coming to a close. I've pretty much exhausted all of the resources and cannot find any new contacts to add to the list. So my quest for scholarships begins. These are a bit more difficult and will require some time. This year we will begin posting local scholarships as well as regional and national. We want the clearinghouse to be helpful to the students. Dave and I also met to discuss the contests to be posted this coming year. We were able to come up with twelve or so contests but found that our poll ideas need some developing. I also received some physics "problems of the month" to test out before they are posted on the Lounge. So I'll be handing those out to the interns to see if they are solvable.

The SOCK work is coming along. I believe that all of the purchase requisitions are finished (knock on wood) and the materials should start to come in next week. The labels to go on the front of the folders are finished and the User's Guide is well underway. After Jackie is finished with her poster she is presenting at the AAPT meeting she and I will have to meet to break up the work. There is much to be written. But I have plenty of fun things around my desk for inspiration. A bientot!

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Week of July 7, 2006
My summer experience so far has been quite unlike any of my others. I came with very few expectations. But I did know one thing. I was going to take back with me whatever I put into it. It didn't take me long to realize I was playing a different ball game. Instead of spending my days reading material pertaining to my work (which I have done a little of), setting up equipment, and analyzing data, I have attended a few policy meetings, discussed the future of science outreach, visited elementary school students, made ice cream, and learned how to fill out purchase requisitions. There have been plenty of opportunities to meet so many different people, from faculty to administrators to council members. I really like getting to experience the politics and policy of the career field that I am choosing. I knew that there was more to physics than spending weeks milling over a problem in the lab and discussing results and future endeavors with colleagues. Now I am being exposed to the networking of the physics community that many undergraduates do not see.

This week has been devoted to the SOCKs. There were a few items that we decided to order to take a closer look at. Yesterday we spent some time testing some of these items (to remain unnamed until further notice), deciding what few things we knew we wanted in the kits and mapping out our budget. I will be extremely busy over the next week working on the User's Guide to the 2006 SOCK and keeping track of orders. I also have some metro reading to do looking at an education outreach guide that Karen Fox started for the Absolute Zero Campaign, an article, and a couple of books. I just finished John Rigden's Einstein 1905 and now need to start a review of it to be posted on The Nucleus.

Besides everything going on at the office, this past week was filled with fun and festivities. On Saturday I spent some time on the mall and went to the Holocaust Museum with Tyler. That night we had our weekly intern dinner. Monday, a group of us went to the Capitol to watch the dress rehearsal of A Capitol Fourth, where we got to see Stevie Wonder! I couldn't miss the World Cup semifinals, where Italia (!) defeated Germany on Tuesday and France won to Portugal on Wednesday. The firework display on Tuesday was simply fantastic. I was able to meet Tyler at Gravelly Point and watch the amazing fireworks with him. This week has been unforgettable.

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Week of June 30, 2006

ComPADRE Editors Meeting: June 29-30, 2006
My Thursday and Friday was spent at yet another meeting. This time, all of the collections of ComPADRE met to discuss what had been accomplished over the past year and the goals of the whole group as well as the individuals. I had the opportunity to meet everyone working on the different collections and hear about the roles they play in the bigger picture and what each one focuses on.

When it was time for each collection to meet and discuss, Dave, Gary, and I looked at the tasks laid out at the beginning of the summer. We discussed our goals, whether any new ones should be added, and a time table for these to be carried out. Although the list is a little ambitious I think that reaching for the stars is an excellent way to begin. Some of the tasks will not be complete by the time I leave. But I am working on the most important ones right now and finishing what I can.

The next big step for The Nucleus is determining how high school clubs should be incorporated into the site. There are a few scholarship opportunities for seniors and not many research opportunities. I guess that can be a side project of mine.

The Lounge should hopefully be up by late fall. It will be somehow linked to The Nucleus and have a Problem of the Month and different contests, as well as discussion forums. The look and feel is geared more towards a younger audience. I think it will attract quite a group.

Our time here is going quickly and there's still so much to do.

Council of Undergraduate Research Meeting: June 27-29
Liz, Patrick Mulvey (from Statistical Research at AIP), Stephanie Sears (a former Associate Zone Councilor, or AZC), and I were not given very much time to settle in when we arrived at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana. We flew in for the end of a CUR (Council of Undergraduate Research) meeting to specifically discuss SPS and the role that undergraduate research (UR) plays in a student's immediate and long-term career. Many of the workshop participants agreed to stay for this special session. It was an interesting and very diverse group of people, ranging from geologists, chemists, ethnographers, and physicists. I was one of three students there who were asked to attend the meeting to share their experiences with UR.

The schedule was busy since we only had two days to meet and discuss. On Tuesday there were plenary discussions on the benefits of faculty involvement in UR and student responses to UR experiences. There were a lot of faculty members there who added a lot to the discussions because they had had experience working as mentors to undergraduates. David Lopatto of Grinnell College shared surveys that had been developed for undergraduates who had some sort of research experience. Some other topics of discussion included if UR should be incorporated into the curriculum, the difficulties that might present, and the comparison of a summer research position in a lab with research experience in a classroom.

I was given my first opportunity to be a part of a panel discussion on Wednesday. The three students were asked to talk about their experiences in research. In order for us all to get the most out of the discussion we willingly talked about the positive and negative aspects of our experiences and what made good researchers and mentors. I felt quite comfortable sharing my stories with our elders and felt that the discussion was very effective. As a part of two small working groups I took part in discussing the benefits of student journaling during their experience (where I was a living testament!), how the journals could be used to make improvements to student research, and UR for teachers and pre-teachers. Overall the meeting brought about much good discussion and many ideas for the future. I am anxious to see if a lot happens during my remaining time here. Many of the goals that were discussed require a lot of time to develop and fully take effect.

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Week of June 23, 2006
This week was quite an adventure. The demo rooms that were set up attracted a lot of attention. I think the liquid nitrogen ice cream was the greatest at pulling people in. The interns also found other ways to entertain the crowd using the 77 Kelvin liquid. We froze popsicles, balloons, flowers, and pretty much anything else that was around. The other activities that were set out went well. It was a good practice for Thursday when Ann, Erin, Jackie, Gary and I went to Tuckahoe Elementary School to visit the third and fourth grade classes. That turned out to be such a wonderful experience! I had never done outreach to a group of younger students. They were especially wowed by all of the cool things (no pun intended) that could be done with liquid nitrogen. I'm glad I had the chance to do those things. It really got me thinking about more outreach ideas for when I return to Louisiana.

It's hard to believe that three weeks have gone by! There are still contact lists to be put together for the undergraduate research and scholarship clearinghouses on the Nucleus and a CUR meeting to prepare for. I leave on Tuesday. What a full schedule!

I'm looking forward to this weekend. Some of the interns are going hiking. This will be a good time for some reading, relaxing, and thinking on the trails. I am also going to a dinner dance on Capitol Hill on Sunday. There is so much to look forward to and enjoy during my time in D.C. that I'll have trouble leaving.

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Week of June 16, 2006

il 16 giugno 2006

Journal Entry/Experience: Work this week had a snowball effect. The office was very quiet at the beginning of the week because Liz and Gary were out of town. Dave wasn't going to be in until Thursday, so he was gone as well. So I had the opportunity to tour the Niels Bohr library (avec Jackie), hound the other interns for ideas for the Nucleus polls and contests, and begin reading John Rigden's book, Einstein 1905. We plan to add a link for student to post their reviews on science-related books and I figured I could get a head start.

The annual ACP picnic is this coming Monday. We'll have a demonstration room (formerly the rainbow room...it's been transformed to the chill room, based on the "Absolute Zero" theme). So these last few days have been devoted to planning activities for the children. Jackie and I, along with the help of others, have several demos planned. We even put together 108 gift bags for them. And I'll be making liquid nitrogen ice cream that day. Yum!

This morning Dave and I met with Matt Rigsbee on the third floor to discuss the student "Lounge" that will soon be added to the Nucleus. I think the design looks great! I can't wait to see how it turns out.

One of my goals for next week is to develop the SOCK website. It needs some attention.

Things in the city have been quite fun. The monuments are magical at night! The national cathedral is also very beautiful. The view of the city from its bell tower is excellent. My fiance, Tyler, and I cooked shrimp etouffee last night and had everyone try some. It turned out to be quite a success (despite the level of cajun spice). I plan on cooking it one night for our weekly dinners that we have with the other interns.

P.S. AIP is planning to sing something for karaoke. They've been practicing quite a bit...so I have pretty high expectations. :0)

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Week of June 9, 2006
Because most of the other interns and I arrived in DC on Saturday we had some time to explore the city and get to know one another. Saturday night was spent unpacking so that Sunday we had time to walk around. We passed the White House, checked out the Washington and Lincoln memorials, as well as the numerous others in the area, and eventually found ourselves in front of the National Academy of Sciences to sit in Einstein s lap. Orientation was on Monday. We had a very busy morning talking about our goals, making the most of out time here, touring AIP, and meeting a lot of people. By the afternoon I was bursting with excitement and very eager to get to work. I was given the list of what I would be working on with ComPADRE and the SPS Outreach Catalyst Kits, or SOCK and immediately went to work.

Despite the fact that I have been working for only one week, the people I work with have made it easy for me to feel welcomed. Dave came into the office for the first time yesterday (even though I was only around for an hour or so in the morning) and we discussed the upcoming work with the Nucleus with Gary. Today the SPS Executive Committee is meeting. So this morning will be spent organizing and brainstorming. Jackie and I will work on finding materials to be put into the SOCKs this afternoon. We have already met with Karen Fox to discuss the Absolute Zero and the Conquest of Cold Campaign that will be incorporated into the SOCKs. But we have to have a good idea of exactly what materials will be put in by the end of next week so we can begin preparing for our presentation for the AAPT meeting.

A little more time is needed before I am fully settled into the office setting. This is the first job where I have my own desk and computer. Most of my other jobs have required sitting behind a piano, running around after children, or standing in front of a classroom. The walls of my workspace are still empty. One of my goals for next week is to create a more aesthetically pleasing environment. The entire building is filled with art I feel like I need to keep up.

There is still plenty left to see in the city. This weekend will be very busy. Tonight, after the picnic with the Executive Committee, I am meeting my fiancé (he flew in today for his summer with NYLC) and exploring some areas of the city that I have not yet seen. The next few weeks should be fun. I can t wait!


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