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Justin Reeder Justin Reeder
University of Wisconsin - Platteville
Internship: SPS SOCK/ComPADRE: The Nucleus
Online Journal
Week of July 30, 2007 Week of July 9, 2007 Week of June 18, 2007
Week of July 23, 2007 Week of July 2, 2007 Week of June 11, 2007
Week of July 16, 2007 Week of June 25, 2007 Week of June 4, 2007
Week of July 30, 2007

Monday, 30 July 2007
Today for my adventures at the summer AAPT meeting I decided to check out a presentation on interactive physics lecture demos for college classrooms.  I was intrigued by this topic because for one I wanted to see if I could pick up new ideas for my SPS chapter’s traveling road show.  Plus I also wanted to see what other methods of teaching physics were being used at other universities.  As an engineering student, I have had extensive experience in being exposed to the lecture, lab, and exam method of teaching and now I am curious if there are not better ways out there for learning the material in my major.

The presenters used a book series called Interactive Lecture Demonstrations—Physics Suite Materials that Enhance Learning.  I don’t remember the author or publisher of the series but I was indeed very impressed with this method of teaching students.  The traditional method of lecture and demos is where the professor primarily puts information to be learned on the white board, does some demonstrations, assigns homework, and then uses quizzes and exams for evaluating student learning and grading.  The method these guys presented was that students are given work sheets with some basic information on the lecture and demonstration they are going to see for that day.  Then they are expected to predict what they think will happen thus focusing on the students initial knowledge of the material.  Next the demonstration is performed and then a discussion follows as to what they observed, what their predictions were, and why they think there is a discrepancy.  During this whole process the students also have a worksheet to record notes on for the discussion, demonstration, and later the explanation.  Once the discussion is complete the professor then explains what happened.

Now the presenters took us through a sample run of this procedure by teaching a mini class.  I have to admit that I was very impressed by the effectiveness of this method because I felt that after their lesson I had a far better understanding of what they were trying to teach than if I just read the book and attended a regular lecture.  Indeed I think the interactivity along with having students present the information they already know, showing them something, and then having them engage in discussion about what they saw tends to stimulate more learning and thought rather than here is the information and learn it.  Lectures seem to be more geared for problem solving and mathematical computation but they seem to miss out on the stressing of learning the concepts, which I feel is far more important than just being able to crank out just numbers and equations.  An equation is rather meaningless without knowing the ideas that it came from.

After this presentation I managed to get in a quick lunch with Meagan.  We touched base and talked about the neat things we had seen at the conference and who we had all run into.  I also definitely had to sympathize with Meagan as she recounted her rather difficult weekend.  She had spent half a day due to bad weather being delayed in the airports while the airlines tried to find her a flight that would get her to the conference.  That caused her to miss out on one of the first poster presentations she was going to be at.  Then she had a bit of transportation problems getting from the Greensboro airport to her hotel and to cap it all off, her order for the last Harry Potter book from Barnes and Noble had been lost.  Talk about a streak of bad luck.  But I did tell her that her tale made for one good story.

After lunch I checked out the vendors section of the meeting where I saw some pretty cool physics lab equipment, toys, books, and textbooks.  Then I happened to run across an interesting exhibit.  Apparently AAPT had put on a contest for members to come up with new ways to make home made lab equipment and demonstrations.  There was some good home made equipment.  One I thought was good was a homemade heat engine which used thermal convection currents generated by candles to cause a tinplate floating on water to spin.  Surprisingly simple and yet I thought rather ingenious.

As it got later in the afternoon I headed back to the hotel to do some more work on the technical pages for the SOCK.  I needed to work on the graphics for those pages and I figured I was a little worn out from checking out so many things at the conference.  A little change of pace wasn’t going to hurt.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007
Yesterday Gary told me about a sectional that AAPT was putting on how to do presentations and poster sessions at national conferences.  I was indeed quite interested when I heard this because I figured I could definitely use the additional practice and the chance to get reviewed by more experts in this field the better.   At the session we were given a 15 minute power point show on things to consider and look out for while giving presentations.  Then it was our turn to speak.  Some of the topics that the other students in the room gave were indeed quite interesting.  One was about black holes and some of the new theories that were being put forth by top physicists.  I thought this presentation was particularly good because he stayed away from really technical jargon and managed to go at a good pace keeping his ideas well linked. 

Myself I did my presentation again and did quite well.  The advice the judges gave me were to remain more focused on one of my topics rather than trying to cover the entire time of my internship.  Plus they also suggested that since we had a lot of room for the posters that we should use all of the space with lots of visuals.  I thought this was all pretty good advice and will be implementing it for my future presentations.

In the afternoon I attended a session that Gary and Jack were putting on dealing with Undergraduates’ Roles in Improving Education.  Here I learned about a new program that was being developed by the universities called Learning Assistants which is quite similar to the idea of a Teaching Assistant except that this is for undergraduates rather than graduate students.  Some of the other finer points that differentiate it from a TA are that a LA is required to take some education classes, must maintain a journal and do personal evaluations.  Plus they do more tutoring style assistance in small groups rather than teach actual classes.  I thought this was a really cool program and indeed it would be one I would love to see implemented at my own university.  Especially since it would give the broader range of experiences I need for pursuing outreach programs.

Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the entire conference as tomorrow we would be having our closing breakfast with Liz and doing an evaluation of our experiences in the internship program.

Wednesday, 1 August 2007
I have to admit that it was a little weird not having to get up at 6:30 in the morning to get ready for work.  I was conscious at the time but I didn’t have to get going for another hour.  I had gotten quite accustomed to this daily routine and now it would be changing up again.  Today was different in that we were meeting Liz at L’Enfant Plaza for breakfast and an informal discussion on our assessment of how the internship program went for us.  We ate at a breakfast buffet inside the mall and I have to admit it had been a little while since treating myself to a big breakfast.  We talked about how we liked the program and what changes and advice might be helpful for next year’s interns.

After breakfast and after saying our good-bye’s to Liz we headed for The White House.  I never thought I would be lucky enough to set foot in this famous house and yet here I was gazing at the various rooms of the White House.  Indeed Meagan is very good with her D.C. connections as she managed to get this arranged not more than two weeks ago.  Two major highlights of the tour for me were for one getting to see the silverware and china sets used by President Lincoln.  Yes, that Civil War buff in me really kicked in and I had to try to memorize the intricate patterns in that set of china.  I did not succeed in that though.  And the other high light was the Red Room.  I don’t know why but that was my favorite room of the bunch.  I think it might be because it was the most comfortable and warm looking of the bunch.  The others just seemed a bit too formal for me.

Once our White House tour was complete I grabbed a quick bite to eat at the dorms and then I was back on the metro rail heading back to AIP.  I figured I needed to clean up the area around my desk, finish a couple of last minute tasks for the SOCK, and most importantly take the chance to try to see the crew on 2nd floor, AIP Education Division one more time.  So I hung around work for the last half of the day and before I knew it, it was getting towards closing time.  It was time to say good-bye. Indeed such things are always difficult to do and my internship had been tons of fun and such a wonderful experience which was indeed in large part due to awesome support I got from everyone at AIP.  Before heading out I managed to get a few pictures and some email addresses so I could stay in touch.

Before catching the metro rail back to D.C., I checked to see if any of the other interns were still in the building.  I ran into Katie and she said that she was planning on coming into town to hang out with us for another round before we left D.C.  So we rode back on the rails to D.C.  Andy gave me a call while on the train saying that the crew was planning on checking out this sandwich place near the Civil War African Memorial stop on the metro.  He said it was also supposed to be well known for their desserts and chocolate treats.  Perfect, I hadn’t quite gotten my daily fix of sugar.

Once at the restaurant I figured I would try something a little different.  I figured I would have dinner backwards.  Kind of weird but hey got to live a little and I hadn’t indulged myself in a bunch of sweets in a while.  So for the first time through I ordered a strawberry smoothie.  It was very good stuff.  I ended up with a bit of an ice cream headache, so to cure that I needed something warm, how about chocolate soufflé.  And they gave me a huge piece!  It was so big that I didn’t even need a main course.  I was going to be running off of a sugar high and feeling good.

After dinner we decided to head back to the dorms for one final match of Taboo.  I have to admit that I have come to really like this party game and indeed part of it is the fact that it can create such fun and great rivalries.  We divided up into teams and the competition was off.  This time I surprised Enrique and Ryan as my skills had gotten way better since the last time I was working with Jesus and his team and just got blown away in the water.  I think it was because of all the sugar.  They claimed that I was actually bluffing the last time so I could draw them in this game.  Maybe that was my strategy but who knows.  It indeed made for some great fun.  But indeed the time did fly and before we knew it, it was almost midnight and time to hit the sack for tomorrow would be another long day, of waiting at the airport.      

Thursday, 2 August 2007
Well I’m down to my last few hours here in Washington D.C.  I am now waiting at the airport for my flight out of Ronald Reagan International Airport.  I gave my parents a call to let them know that my flight was on time and should be back in Wisconsin around 5:30 PM.  I then gave my grandparents a call to see how they were doing and how their vacationing had went.

Now it is just a waiting game.  I had said all my good-bye’s to the other interns earlier this morning as they caught their taxi rides to the airport.  My flight was one of the later ones.  I managed to get most of their email addresses and I’m looking forward to keeping in touch with them throughout the year.  I’m hoping we’ll all get a chance to get back together again for something fun in the future.  Indeed this internship has made for quite a memorable summer and I enjoyed having the opportunity for meeting such an outstanding group of people.  It will be good to get back to Wisconsin but indeed I am still leaving a bit of myself behind in this city.

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Week of July 23, 2007

Monday, 23 July 2007
Practice presentation day.  Indeed I can definitely tell when my nerves are running high because I have this tendency to joke around a bit more when I am nervous.  Today was indeed no exception.  I have never been a big one for being the center of attention for a large group people and giving a presentation in front of all of AIP was definitely in that category.  I would have thought that four years of high school forensics competitions would have cured that, but, yeah I still get pretty nervous.

Liz and Gary were really good at listening to all of our presentations and we spent a lot of time discussing what could be done with the slides and the speaking parts to make them more polished for tomorrow.  Surprisingly, more run through my presentation went far better than I had thought.  I was a little rough on the ComPADRE part of my speech but the SOCK project I knew pretty well and didn’t have to refer as much to my Power Point slides as much as I thought. 

Then after my presentation, Ryan and I did a trial run of the Crash Test Smarties activity we were going to do with the audience.  I worked on getting some worksheets put together for the groups we would make and Ryan got the equipment prepped and down in the conference room.

I actually really liked doing a dry run of our presentations.  Not only did I get some good advice on my speech, but I also got a chance to hear all the other interns and that proved to be quite insightful.  Especially, since these presentations gave a deeper perspective of all the hard work that we had been doing over the summer.

Once we were done with our practice sessions with Liz and Gary, we were off to a country club to dine with Toufic Hakim, the Executive Officer of AAPT.  During our dinner conversation, an interesting question arose:  With today’s ever increasing diversity in the job market, how has the definition of a physicist changed and at what point is someone considered a physicist?

I thought this was a rather good thought provoking question and I have to admit that at the time I really had no idea what to add to the conversation but since then I've had some time to reflect.  It is true that physics is actually becoming more and more intertwined with various disciplines of study not to mention the jobs that stem from these fields.  Indeed how should we go about defining the term physicist?  The current definition according to the Occupational Handbook is that it is someone who holds a PHD education in physics and they are typically involved in research and development at universities and government labs.   Hollywood, along with popular culture, has also supported this view by portraying the traditional physicists as being a middle aged man with frazzled hair in a lab coat blazing through equations on a chalkboard trying to figure out some technical problem.  But is that truly just the only case anymore? 

The word physics is in many new job titles some of which include:  Biophysicist, Astrophysicist, Engineering Physicist, Chemical Physicist, Geophysicist, and so on.  These jobs tend to lean more towards the application of physics in specific fields rather than just the pure study of physics.  But then what about the job titles that do not have the word 'physics' in it?  What about the people involved in creating physics policy in our government, physics education, physics outreach, physics writing, physics literature, etc.  All these people are also involved with physics and its advancement.  In this new light maybe we should consider having a broader view of the concept of a physicist because physics in itself has become rather far reaching.  Maybe the concept of a physicist should be that it is someone who has a passion to discover the physical truths in our universe, is willing to apply this knowledge for the common good, and to pass it on for future generations.  So although the job definition of a physicist might need to remain quite specific, our personal concept of who a physicist is should not be so acute.  There can be a physicist in anyone.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007
Wow today is really the big day.  Indeed it is hard to believe that all these people took time out of their busy schedules to see our presentations.  Indeed incredible.  I have to admit that I was quite nervous even though I had practiced a few more times last night.  It is indeed quite fun though to talk to all these people from the various organizations that were here to see what we did.

Then it was time to begin.  Indeed talk about how time flies when you’re having fun, and nervous at the same time.  Before I knew it, I was up at the podium giving my talk.  I talked about what I had learned about the many aspects of ComPADRE and its various components and the work I did on the Textbook Section of the Nucleus.  Then I talked about how Ryan and I had analyzed the surveys from last years SOCK and then devised a new format for the 2007 kit.  The crowd really enjoyed it when we had them participate in the Crash Test “Smarties” sample activity.  It was cool because everyone got to experience a little bit of the excitement and wonder that our Tuckahoe Elementary students did when we tested the lesson a month ago.  After the activity Ryan did a wrap up of the work we did on the SOCK by telling how we tested the Diet Coke and Mentos Design lesson at the MERSEC Space Camp.  Indeed I have to give Ryan credit that from watching his presentation he has had consider experience in public speaking.

After our talks were complete Dr. Worth Seagondollar gave a talk on his experiences at the Trinity Test site in New Mexico where they did some of the first explosions with nuclear weapons.  Indeed it was quite an experience hearing his tales observing the blasts and their trips into the desert to set up equipment and collect data.

Once his talk was over we got the chance to have our picture taken with him.  Indeed an incredible guy and surprisingly I didn’t initially realize it but he had also done PHD work at U.W. Madison.  Indeed it can be surprising what a small world it can be.

After all the excitement of the day we interns decided to kick back and relax playing some Taboo and Trivia Pursuit. 

Wednesday, 25 July 2007
Now that the big presentations were over with at AIP it is time to get ready for the AAPT Conference in Greensboro, NC.  Plus Ryan and I are going to have to begin wrapping up our work for the SOCK, make sure we get all the supplies on order, and do final writing and publishing of our user’s manual.  Lots to do and indeed so little time.

The first thing I figured to tackle was my poster presentation at the AAPT Conference.  I figured that with some modifications my AIP slide show presentation would work nicely for that if I could get it published as a poster.  So I checked with Tracy and he said that Kinkos might be a good place to check.  So Tracy and I went on a road trip to check them out.  On the way Tracy told me about some of the cool stuff to do in the College Park area.  Once at Kinkos I would was quite surprised at the price, which was around $70.00, they were going to charge me for the charge.  I thought this was rather expensive and so we headed back to AIP.

I remembered at our presentations yesterday that Doug had made up a really nice display for in the front foyer for guests to see of our activities over the summer so I asked Doug how he had went about making his display.  Once he showed me how to use some of additional office equipment and the all important laminator, I was off to work planning, printing, and laminating pictures for the poster.  Half way through I realized that I had forgotten about what I would put it on.  I needed poster board and it was near the end of the work day.  Luckily I found out that Katie was going to do a bit of shopping after work and was happy to help me out.  We did some hunting around Target and I managed to find the supplies I needed.  She then dropped me back off at AIP.

Time to burn some of that midnight oil as us engineers can be so good at.  I went back up to second and picked up where I left off on working on my poster.  I managed to get most of her done by 8:30 or so and I was looking forward to showing Gary in the morning.  It was finally time to go home and relax for a bit.

Thursday, 26 July 2007
Today is the day we get a field trip to NASA Goddard.  Indeed I can hardly wait.  Ever since I was real young I’ve always loved the space program and was inspired by the astronauts who went to the moon.  Now I would get a chance to see the facilities that made this possible.  Indeed I was quite impressed.  I didn’t realize that each NASA facility was like a huge college campus onto itself. 

Jesus had a chance to show us where he worked and the stuff that he was working on for the lunar orbiter that was going to search for water on the moon.  Then we checked out the various facilities on the campus.   We saw the different facilities and equipment that they used to test satellites to make sure they could withstand the rigors of lift off and a space environment.  I particularly liked the acoustic testing room and this other machine which used rotational motion to test how much g-force a satellites' electronics could handle before failing. After the tour we hit the gift shop where I saw a really nice NASA hat which I had to get for wearing back at Platteville.

After our tour of NASA we headed over to Fred Dylla’s house who is the Executive Director of AIP.  Wow did they really put on a nice backyard dinner for us.  The variety of refreshments and dishes they offered us was fabulous.  Plus, my being from the Midwest I’m used to the usual ice cream and pie for dessert but to my surprise they had frozen tropical fruit filled with a fruit slushy of sorts.  It was really good and something I had never had before.  After dinner and with twilight approaching we enjoyed kicking back and talking about how the internships went and what we enjoyed about the D.C. area.  I had to leave a bit early as I needed to get packed for my flight to Greensboro.  It had indeed been a fun evening.

Friday, 27 July 2007
“Table of Sin” Day.  Since the beginning of my internship on 2nd floor of AIP I have become an observer of a very cool social tradition here.  Every Friday, the breakfast club, has one person bring in goodies for breakfast so that everyone on the floor can get a snack for breakfast.  This was something that Yvonne introduced me to my first Friday here.  Ever since then I had wanting to get my contribution to this event since it looked pretty fun. 

Table of sinSo what could I contribute that would be totally cool for breakfast and of course have lots of sugar, vital for the morning wake up.  Ah, doughnuts would be the answer and they must be fresh.  It took me a few weeks of looking but I managed to locate a nice Giant supermarket off of the Red Line.  There they had a nice bakery that seemed to keep itself well stocked in doughnuts.  So then this morning I hit the rails a bit earlier than usual, stopped at the supermarket and picked up a bunch of doughnuts.  Yeah this was going to be good.  One of the metro rail security guys got a laugh at my box of doughnuts as I went through the stiles.  He said I must’ve been pretty hungry that morning.

At work I added the goods to the table.  I didn’t realize that someone else also had that day and so by the time Yvonne got in the table was packed with doughnuts, pastries, orange juice, and fruit.  Yvonne got a chuckle out of it since she knew how much I liked to tease about that table and how she kept track of it.  Good stuff.

After getting my sugar rush in I finished up packing the stuff I would need for Greensboro and then shortly after that it was already time for lunch.  I had lunch with Andy and Meagan downstairs on the front patio.  It was actually kind of weird since it would be my last one before my internship was over. 

Then it was off to the airport where I ended up getting delayed on the tarmac because there was bad weather in between D.C. and Greensboro.  I was glad I had grabbed a bite to eat in the airport.  I was looking forward to getting a good nights rest at my hotel and getting organized and orientated for the conference.

Saturday, 28 July 2007
Well my hotel room at the Hampton Inn in Greensboro is just fabulous.  I had no idea what I was getting when I booked it through Austin Travel but it rocked.  My room consisted of a huge king size bed, full desk, sitting area, refrigerator, and a microwave. I also got to enjoy a really nice continental breakfast before heading over a block to the conference.

However I would get a little surprise as the it was raining outside.  In D.C. it had hardly rained all summer and yet once I did a little traveling and didn’t have my umbrella the skies opened up.  I managed to borrow an umbrella from the front desk and made it over to the conference. 

The conference center itself was very impressive and just huge.  I got myself registered with the front desk, grabbed a cup of Chai Tea and picked up the bus that would take me out to the University for my first workshop, which was “Hands-On Units for All Ages.”  Here I picked up some really good ideas for presentations and projects that we could use back at U.W. Platteville for our Physics Phunshop which would be this coming fall.  I particularly liked the one where they made a small model of an electric motor.  We had done something quite similar to that at Platteville but these guys had found some better materials to use which made construction easier and more reliable.

After the workshop I did some looking about at the booths back at the conference center.  I tried to hook up with Matt for dinner but he said that he was pretty worn out from travel and such.  I figured I’d try to link up with Andrea but didn’t have too much luck.  So I figured I’d check out this Italian restaurant I’d seen outside my hotel. 

Sunday, 29 July 2007
Today I was up early and at the conference center early.  I had a full schedule of workshops to attend.  The first one I hit was one about physics used in crime scene investigation.  That one I thought was really awesome considering the actual physics behind basic crime scene investigations didn’t seem that complicated it was more a matter of being aware of them.  I learned how investigators examined blood spatter patterns, how they analyzed broken glass, and some basic ballistics which helped piece together what happened at a particular crime scene.  Then we got a chance to do some of the activities that this teacher had her high school students do in class.  The whole workshop I thought was really neat and I particularly liked it because it was a class that showed high school students the practical application of physics.  That all the number crunching and mathematics had practical applications in their everyday lives.

While walking back from this workshop I ran into Professor Phil Young, one of my professors from U.W. Platteville.  I enjoyed a quick chat with him as we awaited the bus to take us back to the main conference area.  I enjoyed telling him about the workshop I had just seen and how my internship was going.  But before we knew it we I had arrived at my next site for the workshop so I had to split.

The next workshop I did was on about using toys in classroom demonstrations and the physical principles we could show students with them.  I thought this was a pretty good one but not nearly as exciting my previous one.  But I did find out a few concepts that could be pulled from some of the simplest toys.  After this workshop I managed to run into Andrea.  We grabbed a quick bite for dinner before we had to set up for our SPS Poster session where we would meet Gary.

At the poster session I really got an awesome opportunity to talk to a lot of people about the SOCK I had worked on for most of the summer.  The chance to talk to these people in an informal setting really helped me improve my presentation skills.  I almost wish I had a chance to do this before my formal presentation at AIP but none the less the more practice I got with this the better I was getting, which was totally cool.

After this I was pretty beat but indeed had been a very eventful day and I felt good that I had gotten a number of new people at this conference interested in the SOCK.

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Week of July 16, 2007

Monday, 16 July 2007
Today Ryan was off to MERSEC to get ready for space camp.  So today I had to begin getting the logistics ready for the lesson plan that we were going to test out with these students.  Ryan had come up with an idea of using Spandex launchers left over from an old SOCK project and to incorporate that with the minimum horizontal speed needed to obtain an orbit.  I thought it was a really neat idea and he had put it to a good story line which I think the kids will love. We were also going to give the mentos and diet coke powered rocket car a test as well.

So Doug and I took to the road again getting supplies for the two projects.  We stocked up on some more Diet Coke and Mentos and went to Home Depot to pick up some hardware for putting together the super sling shot launchers.  The shipment of our dynamics carts needed for the projects has arrived!  Yeah!

Tuesday, 17 July 2007
Hot Wheels Radar Guns are in!  Yes our final shipment of the radar guns has arrived.  I put these in the back room in preparation for our slowly growing collection of goods to be placed in this years SOCK.  After that I finally was able to begin assembling all the equipment Ryan and I would need tomorrow. Gary worked on getting the worksheets together for the students.  I put together some more super sling shots and then I went over to UMD to drill some more bottle caps with holes in them for our mentos igniters.  Once I got back to the office I collected the last of the gear and hammered out the final details for tomorrow with Gary.  It was indeed a fun day and I had gotten quite a bit done.  After work I talked Andy and Meagan who were also going to help out on Wednesday.  We did a quick walk through of what was going to happen and then it was off to get some rest.   

Wednesday, 18 July 2007
Man, I can never get enough of seeing kids having fun with physics.  Today started out with Meagan, Andy, and myself getting Gary's car loaded up with the gear we would need.  We had brought 5 super slingshots, 5 radar guns, a lot of Diet Coke and mentos and other supplies.  This time all the stuff managed to fit in the trunk of Gary's car.  Last time it was entertaining when we had the ramp board hanging out the window.

After sitting in the morning traffic jam to get on campus we made it to Ryan's class room on UMD at about 9:00.  We did a quick set up and then the students arrived.  There were less than 20 students which was nice.  After Ryan had introduced us Andy started out with the story line and the general introduction to the project we had for the students.  I gave a demonstration on how to use the radar guns and then we got into testing the slingshots.

The slingshot experiment went o.k. but the kids seemed to have gotten bored with collecting data.  Plus our numbers weren't quite all coming out right which was due to the precise need of the radar gun to be directly in line with the moving object.  Some of the kids were a little scared of having our metal projectiles getting shot in their general direction while trying to measure the speed.  Even though we knew it was quite harmless it was not a factor we had considered.  I still think this part of the experiment is good for the SOCK but we might have to consider it to be a project aimed more for the high school level student.

Once the super sling shot tests were complete, we headed outside to shoot the really big one.  That one the kids loved as they could compete against each other for distances they could shoot a golf ball.  Plus they were kind of excited to see if they could hit the side walk with pedestrians on it!  Darn kids!  I definitely got to remember what it was like to be their age.

After that we began the Mentos and Diet Coke experiments.  Because of time we had to do some serious modifications to this lesson.  We performed the experiments as a class and then instead of having the kids design their own rocket carts we had them help us choose what elements to incorporate on our final two racers.  They really enjoyed seeing them go off and race down the walk way.  We all got a laugh when one of the kids decided to pick up one of the cars before it was done reacting.  He got sprayed pretty with Coke pretty good!

After the event we had to part with Ryan who still had to finish up the day with the students.  We headed over to a sandwich joint next to campus.  Gary treated us to lunch which was really cool.  I had a sort of Philly Cheese Steak sandwich which was really outstanding.

Once work was over Ray managed to catch me and let me know that there was baseball again that night over at UMD.  Even though I was pretty beat I had to go one more time out with the guys for ball.  This time I managed to make it all the way to third base!  Our team was still getting walloped pretty bad as the other team allowed us three innings in a row to work on catching up.  Yeah the sun setting was our saving grace.  But no matter if winner or loser the reward was pizza and beer after at Three Brother's Italian Restaurant.  Indeed awesome fun.  I hope I can manage to find such a group that does softball back in Platteville area.  I indeed had really forgotten how much I love the game.

Thursday, 19 July 2007
Today I began doing some research and data collection for my presentation which is coming up next Tuesday.  Yeah a bit too soon for me in my opinion, but then again if it were me I wouldn't be doing a presentation.  I never one much for the lime light and such but everyone's got to do it and I do need to learn how to get comfortable with public presentations.  Besides, I used to be in high school forensics.  Man I even went to state!  Wow how the time can fly at times.

I also worked on attaching the wooden seats to our dynamics carts so that they would be ready for shipping with the SOCK.  I did discover that five of the carts were sized different from all the others and so my attachments didn't fit properly.  I gave them a quick call and they were more than happy to correct the problem.  The reason they informed me that I might have gotten the wrong ones was because one of their other customers required a different sized cart and that I must have gotten an accidental mixed batch.

Friday, 20 July 2007
Party at Gary's house!  Yeah!  Gary and his wife really know how to throw an awesome party!  We arrived in a few groups from the metro rail around 5:30 pm. Gary's wife gave us a lift from the metro rail to their house and once their Gary gave us the nickel tour.  We then enjoyed some of the awesome food that they had prepared for us.  You just got to love a Louisiana style cook out.  We enjoyed talking about the recent release the latest Harry Potter novel.  Gary said he and his family were going to be in line at midnight to pick up their copy.  I almost thought about joining them on that one except I am about five books behind in the series.

When dinner was over we decided to burn off some of the old calories in some games outside.  Gary, myself, Ryan, Jesus, Kristie, and Enrique did a pick up game of basketball.  It was kind of funny when I tried to do a couple of rebounds against Gary.  I didn't really stand a chance.  But Enrique managed to do pretty well against Gary, although, Enrique had been practicing all summer.  After we had won the game Gary and Enrique were already planning their next rematch.  I don t know if they ever got it in.

Krystyna and Katie were in a tournament of badminton.  Not sure who one that one although I know our basketball came into their court quite a few times because of the proximity courts.

Once dusk was almost upon us, Liz remembered that she wanted a group photo.  So we all clambered on the trampoline.  Then, Katie's friend, who was pretty good at photography, took some pictures for us.  It had indeed been a good night.

Saturday, 21 July 2007
Today I spent most of the late morning and early afternoon working at Gellman library on my presentation.  After fighting a little bit of writer's block I managed to get the SOCK part of my presentation hammered out.  I still needed to come up with some ideas for the ComPADRE part of my presentation.  I feel a little bad that I haven t had as much time or resources to work on this part of my internship but indeed the SOCK requires a lot of time and effort with all the testing of the lesson plans and compilation of equipment and written information.  Oh well, I'll come up with something.

I quit working on my project around 5:00 as I needed to grab a bite to eat.  Plus I had also volunteered with a few of the other interns to help Katie with her rap video for Physics Buzz.  That turned out to be some really zany fun which was really cool.  I hadn't done something like that in far too long.  Myself, Katie, Jesus, & Andrea headed out with our support crew of Kirsten, Kristine, and Katie's friend, Erin to do some video shoots around D.C.  We decked out as physics rappers and had a ball doing acting out parts for the video.  That definitely had to be a highlight of my weekend.

Sunday, 22 July 2007
Yes another full day working on the project.  I worked once again at Gellman Library on the G.W. campus.  Granted I could work at the dorms yet for some reason I get more motivation and creative thinking when I'm in the quite of the library and surrounded by such great writers as Isaac Asimov and other such writers.  By the end of the day I had completed my Power Point presentation and I had a rough idea of what I want to say at tomorrow's practice session.  Man it seems like it's so hard to believe that the end of my internship is coming.  

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Week of July 9, 2007

Monday, 9 July, 2007

I have to admit that the weekend just seems to have come and gone way to quick. Today Ryan is back in the office so we do some brain storming for the upcoming space camp that MERSEC is putting on in about a week and a half. Ryan plans to write up a rough draft while I start working on the logistics for the camp and the rest of the SOCK. I manage to place an order for additional Hot Wheels Guns and secure a discounted rate for some dynamics carts from The Science Source. I plan on sending the president of that company a thank you email later on during the week. Then I begin doing some phone calling to see if I could get in at a wood shop on campus to construct the inserts for our Crash Test Smarties experiment. I hit quite a few stone walls but just as the day is about to end I get a phone call from Dr. Richard Berg over at the University of Maryland campus. He said that he would be more than willing to help. Victory at last!

Tuesday, 10 July 2007
This morning Gary ran me over to the physics building over at the University of Maryland campus so I could meet Dr. Berg and use the student shop for constructing parts for our SOCK. After a little bit of searching we found his office. He led us downstairs to the physics departments best kept secret, an awesome consortium of metal, wood, and CNC shops. Really awesome! I could tell this was definitely a research institution. Dr. Berg had his technician assist me in getting the wood I needed cut up and then I went to work on the drilling I needed to assemble the inserts. I thought it would take me only half of the day but it required just a bit more time than that. In fact it was all day! Sometimes I forget how much work is involved in the mass production process which is so easy for a factory to do, but one person. Indeed it is a different story. But I managed to get the pieces assembled minus the belts.

While at the shop I was lucky to be able to visit with Dr. Berg for a bit. He told me about his physics demonstrations he put on for the community throughout the academic year and summer. I was quite impressed with the collection of demonstrations he has put together. He had a piece of equipment which he had designed which showed Newton's laws in non inertial reference frames. In this demonstration piece he had a gun which fired a golf ball at a hole which was directly in front of it. Now this ball will never hit because gravity affects the balls trajectory. The camera shows this. However this whole setup is designed to fall with the touch of a button. When the frame is dropped the ball shoots right into the hole. The camera then shows what this looks like from the falling gun's point of view. Dr. Berg then showed me where to find his demos online and then recommended a few other sites of interest. I am excited to check them out and see which ones might be usable for our outreach programs back in Platteville.

Internet sites:

Wednesday, 11 July 2007
Work couldn't get over fast enough today. For one we were getting a tour of the National Institute of Standards and Technology. I knew this facility had the huge responsibility of creating and maintaining the standards of measurement used in our country but I would be surprised by the extent of their research. I had no idea the broad range of fields covered at this national laboratory. We were shown research involved with Anthrax detection to nanotechnology fabrication research and the study of the neutron from a nuclear reactor using various beam line experiments. Indeed really impressive to see.

Now if touring NIST wasn't enough excitement for one day, how about a road trip to see a Nickelback concert! Four of us decided to pull off a road trip to Baltimore to go see Nickelback and Sting play in concert. It was a rather short trip up there until we were two miles from the park where the concert was playing. Traffic slowed to an unbearable crawl. We played a couple of road games to pass the time. Finally we were and man was the wait worth it! It was my first actual rock concert I had attended. Before that it was a couple of country concerts at the county fair. By the end of the concert my voice was just about gone and my ears were ringing. But it was a really good time and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Thursday, 12 July 2007
This morning I got to sleep in a little longer than normal which was a good thing since I didn't get back from the concert until 1:30 AM. At 9:00 we had an appointment with Meagan's state representative, Kay Bailey Hutchison so we didn't have to rush off to work. At Senator Hutchison's office she gave us a quick talk about how the big issue before the Senate is the Iraq war and that their would be discussions on the floor for the next two weeks on the issue. It would be neat to sit in on one of these discussions but things will be picking up with my internship in these last few weeks.

After we had our picture taken with the senator, one of her aids took us on a personal tour of the U.S. Capitol. Indeed at first I didn't think I was going to be impressed as the initial artwork seemed quite similar to what I had seen in state capitols. But then I saw the Rotunda and that was breathtaking. So many artistic pieces depicting the American struggle and the heroes carved from the strife. It was just magnificent. Then we saw the old Supreme Court room where hearings including where the infamous Dredd Scott case was heard. By the end of the tour I was amazed by what the white dome of the Capitol hid from view.

Friday, 13 July 2007
Today Ryan and I did a lot of experimenting with Spandex. Yeah that sounds kind of weird but it is true. Spandex has a very unique equation for force and it was something that Ryan wanted to include in his space camp demonstration next Wednesday. So we had to figure out how to get it to work. In particular we wanted to use the Hot Wheels Radar Gun to measure the velocities of a projectile launched by stretched Spandex. This proved to be rather difficult as I think we were surpassing the capabilities of this toy. We discovered that these guns indeed have to be directly in the line of travel of the object being measured in order to read accurate velocities. Also small objects are difficult to detect unless they were composed of metal. Another discovery is that the guns seem to have an optimal range of speeds with which the circuitry performs the best calculations. For hot wheels speeds this was approximately in the 60 to 800 speed range. It would be interesting to see if one could design a better analysis circuit. I don t think I could pull this off with extensive research but I have a few friends in back in Platteville who might. Alas time does not permit this. By the end of the day Ryan and I manage to iron out most of the kinks in the Spandex experiment.

I decided to work a little longer at the office to see if I could complete the inserts for our dynamics cart. I put together some nut and bold assemblies and added Velcro. Jack came by and helped me out a bit. We talked about rocketry and the thermodynamic and physics equations associated with calculating the force created by rockets. It was pretty cool. After we got done with that he offered to take me to Five Brothers over by Greenbelt. There we had some outstanding burgers and a huge bag of fries. I hope I'll get the chance to come back to that place with my parents if they ever get to Washington sometime. That place just rocked!

Saturday, 15 July 2007
My excitement grew as I headed out on the green line to Greenbelt metro station. Last night I had put on reserve a rental car for my trip to Gettysburg, PA. Ever since my child hood I had dreamed of walking the fields of this great Civil War battlefield and now I would get my chance. (See photos here)

It was a 1 1/2 hour road trip from Washington to Gettysburg. I enjoyed the road trip as it was the first time since I had been behind a wheel since leaving Wisconsin. Indeed it is a kind of unique feeling, one which I had experienced when I first arrived home from Iraq as well. Upon my arrival into Gettysburg I was rather surprised at how extremely busy the town was. In fact I had also driven myself right into the middle of a biker rally! How weird is that. I would have never considered such a mix of history and modernism on the same day. This rally was huge as at every street corner and intersection had 10 to 20 bikers waiting for the light to change.

I headed for the visitor center to pick up a CD for my auto tour. I checked out the museum for a bit and even got to see an electric map presentation which Jack had mentioned would be pretty cool to see. Then it was off to do the audio tour. I saw a lot of monuments which were really cool to see. But what was even more memorable was being able to feel and walk the same ground that 165,000 soldiers fought over for three days in July over 140 years ago. Almost a third of them would become a casualty of that conflict. I saw the fields of which General Pickett was ordered to Lee to cross. I was just shocked by how long of a distance that was over open ground. Indeed an impossible task to accomplish with the defenses the Union troops had. Then I observed the Union left flank where Col. Joshua Chamberlain held back repeated assaults. The ground was so rocky it was hard to imagine any fighting on this hill as being possible, and yet they had done it. I happened to have a Maine state quarter with me and I left it with the rest of the relics people had left on the Memorial. It was but a small tribute to the great deed they had done there. Finally my tour ended with the High Water Mark of the Confederacy at Cemetery Ridge. It was here that Pickett's charge was decimated by Union troops. This was the battle that undoubtedly saved the United States in its darkest hour.

Indeed I felt a little humbled by the experience. The face of war has changed so much since the mid 1800's. My own experience was similar but yet very different from theirs. Wars seem to no longer be fought uniform against uniform. But rather it is melded into the daily lives of common every day people, some who are non-combative and others whom are not. The danger was still constantly there but indeed more hidden and subtle than it had been during the Civil War. Intriguing comparisons.

Sunday, July 15 2007
This morning I returned my rental car to the rental company. I then headed in on the green line train back to Washington. It had been a fun excursion but now it was time to plan for the next couple of weeks and get organized for what I would have to accomplish on Monday. Time is moving a bit faster than I would like but the excitement does grow.

I picked up some goodies at Safeway and then headed to Gelman Library to do some thinking and writing on what I would like to present for our final presentation at AIP and for the AAPT meeting in Greensboro. So much to do and seemingly too little time.

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Week of July 2, 2007

Monday, 2 July 2007

Well after an awesome weekend of getting back in touch with nature at Shenandoah National Park it was time to go back to the office and play with technological things again.  I felt quite revitalized after the weekend and was ready for a fresh start.  I did some web surfing to find yet another dynamics cart as the last test proved that the one we had would not hold up for demonstrations in the SOCK.  I found a new one from Frey Scientific which had aluminum wheels riding on ball bearings.  That should definitely work.  At noon some packages arrived for me.  One contained the cycloidal ramps for Ryan's idea of impedance matching.  I had to do some research to figure out the concepts behind that idea for the SOCK.  After work I went to Home Depot to find a few parts to use to build seats for the Crash Test Smarties Experiment.

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Today I worked with Gary on figuring out the principles behind our cycloidal ramps and the impedance matching concept Ryan had mentioned.  By the end of the day we had five pages worth of pure equations.  Yeah, I'm not quite sure how we're going to bring the information down to middle school level yet.  I'm still pondering the equations myself and trying to get the other things together for the SOCK.  It was definitely a full day at the office.

After work we hit up a National's vs. Chicago Cubs game over at RFK stadium.  It has indeed been a while since I've been to a baseball game and indeed it was quite fun.  Andrea managed to get a few really good pictures of one of the pitchers warming up in the bull pen.  Myself I loved the atmosphere and enjoyed a basket of chicken wings and a cold Nationals beer.  Indeed it was quite nice.  I guess I should have probably rooted for the Nationals since I am in D.C. but I was rooting for the Cubs.   Chicago ended up winning 3-1.  But the only double play of the game did go to the Nationals though.  It was a good game.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007
Fourth of July in our nation's capital! How awesome of a thing is that. This has got to be the biggest party of the year for this city.  I am indeed looking forward to checking out the festivities in town.  In the morning we checked out the 4th of July parade.  Wow I had never seen such variety in nationalities represented in one parade.  The Brazilian dancers were really awesome doing a fast street dance for the crowd.  I was amazed at their energy since we were at the end of the parade route and yet they were going full blast!

Then a Peruvian club marched on past us with their dancers.  They didn't have as much flair and bells on as the Brazilians but there dance was just as fast paced.  We tried to get Enrique to jump in with them but he was pretty content to get pictures.  Although he did seem to want the "I love Peru" shirt that some of them were wearing.

After the parade we took a break from the heat back at the dorms.  Enrique, Jesus, and I checked out a local restaurant known for their variety of sandwiches and burgers.  Then we checked out the Washington Folk Festival where we enjoyed checking out the booths on the different nationalities of the area.  I particularly liked the Irish and Virginia exhibits.  Of all the music I heard there I think I liked the bluegrass style the best.  It seems to be the type of music that just grabs you and make you want to dance.  But I did find out that I have a little work to do in that department.

At 8:00 I headed out with Andrea to go check out the concerts that were playing down at the Mall.  The concert turned out to be with country singer Steve Azar who was pretty good.  One of the songs I recognized was "Don t Have to be me 'til Monday" which is definitely a good work week song.  Once the concert was over the music kicked up for the fireworks.  Man were they just spectacular!  It was a continuous 20 minute barrage of light and sound that filled the senses.  I was elated.  Plus what really added to the moment was hearing all the patriotic music being played over the loud speakers.  In fact I was pretty sure it was being played by a band.  I took some video with my camera so that I could send it home to my parents and one of my friends who is over in Iraq.  I figured he would really appreciate it.

Once the fireworks were over Andrea and I went for a stroll to go find some good places to get evening shots of D.C.  We took a couple of pictures of the Lincoln memorial at night along with a picture of Einstein's monument in front of the National Academy of Sciences.  One could indeed not leave town without that shot.  Then it was back to the dorms.

Thursday, 5 July 2007
Man talk about a hard day to come back to work.  It's weird having a day off in the middle of the week.  Plus it seems like the office is pretty empty today.  I think a lot of people took an extra day off for the 4th.  So I worked on the finishing touches to the Crash Test Smarties lesson and began work on the lesson plan for the Mentos and Diet Coke experiment.  I also did some checking into this comedy place I had heard about called Comedy Sportz.  I remember there being one in Madison, WI and I happened to luck out by finding one in D.C. which is just right off of the Orange line.  Sweetness.  Now I'm hoping a few of the others are up for a comedy night.

Friday, 6 July 2007
Today at work I made some good progress on the Mentos and Diet Coke lesson plan.  I also tested the new dynamics cart and it proved to work very well on the ramp and when it was being propelled by the Coke.  Meagan took some video feed so we'll be able to incorporate that into Ryan's Youtube site for the SOCK. Awesome.

After work I headed out with Enrique and Andrea to Comedy Sportz.  We were going to meet up with a bunch of interns from the Red Cross, one of which I knew from U.W. Platteville.  I had never seen a show of this style before.  Comedy Sportz is modeled after the hit TV show "Who's Line is it Anyway?" I have always had an appreciation for improve comedy because it is something that is quite out of my skill level.  Plus it is just so funny to watch.  I was surprised to learn that this group also gives classes in this comedy style throughout the year.  That's cool.  Maybe I could use something like this to work on my public speaking skills.
Saturday, 7 July 2007
Today the D.C. heat was really kicking in.  I chose to sleep in a little bit and then head out with Enrique and Jesus to the Museum of Natural History.  We had been there before but this time we had a couple of exhibits we really wanted to delve into.  The mammal exhibit was one of the targets.  When we got there the place was really packed.  Indeed it must be prime time tourist season in D.C.  So we checked out what we could.  I also discovered two new sections which I had missed before, the part on the evolution of our planet and the universe.  I saw a bunch of meteorites which had been collected over the years. Then I checked out the mining exhibit.  When I was about ready to go I found another good exhibit on the English and Mohawk Indian Delegations.  That was intriguing to read through.

After that we headed back and kicked back to watch a movie.  Enrique and Jesus hadn't seen the second Pirates of the Caribbean and I happened to have a copy with me.  So we popped that in and watched it.  We got a really good kick out of the "Disney Physics" of the movie and the classic lines that it had.  It was some really good fun.

Sunday, 8 July 2007
Alright the heat is definitely on in D.C.  Today was another scorcher.  But this morning I decided I was motivated enough to take a quick jog at the Mall.  It was really nice and not much traffic to worry about.  After that it was off to the IMAX Theater with Enrique, Jesus, and another guy from NIST who Jesus knew. We watched Adrenaline Rush and it was alright.  It definitely reminded me why I didn't join the Air Assault teams for the Army.

After this we had lunch at a Mexican restaurant down town.  It wasn't all that great as the food was quite highly priced and the servings were pretty small.  Eh can't win them all as we crossed that one off of the list of places to try.  Then we headed on back to the dorms.  I got a little laundry done and then I headed on over to Gelman Library to check it out.  Found out I couldn't check out books but it was nice to browse the periodicals section.  A nice way to wrap up a lazy day and to avoid the heat.

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Week of June 25, 2007

Monday, 25 June 2007
I have to admit that I thought the only organization that used several acronyms in one sentence was the military. That misconception of mine is now indeed put to rest. AIP, AAPT, APS, SOCK, R&D, and now ComPADRE. Indeed Washington, D.C. has its fair share of acronyms much of which is included in my internship job title. ComPADRE: Communities for Physics and Astronomy Digital Resources in Education. I know from my dealings with web resources and internet searches that ComPADRE is a digital library utilized by physics and astronomy professionals across the globe. But other than that I have no in depth perspective of this resource. Today's meeting with the ComPADRE editors at AIP changed that for me quite considerably. Plus I also got to meet face-to-face my other boss, Dave Donnelly, the editor of The Nucleus.

The meeting started out with each of the editors giving a report to Bruce Mason who is the principle investigator of the project and the one who ran the meeting. I found each of these editor reports very insightful. First, the website I was working on was brought up for discussion. We presented our statistics of the usage of the website and made a note of how Gary White's emails proved to be rather effective for increasing traffic to the Nucleus. One particular email involving a request to member societies to check out a review in the textbook section created a huge spike. We suggested that continued emailing important upcoming events to such societies as SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma would increase traffic on the Nucleus.

After that we heard from all the other editors on what methods worked well on their sites. I found it insightful from their discussions the varied methods they used and in particular what audiences each of the collections targeted. Prior to this meeting it was difficult to tell the difference between the collections. Now I have a much firmer grasp on what the member societies do and the websites that they sponsor.

After spending much of the day at this meeting, I finally managed to get back to my desk to talk to Ryan a bit about some ideas we had for the SOCK. We figured we had a pretty good grasp on the outline that we wanted for the SOCK now it was just a matter of putting together lesson plans and testing equipment to make sure they would work. It is now time for the logistics support, something that I specialize in.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007
Well today I would learn even further about another D.C. acronym, CNSF, the Coalition for National Science Funding. This group is composed of over 100 organizations who have grouped together to work towards obtaining funding for scientific and technological projects and ventures. Tonight I along with the other interns were invited to the CNSF 13th Annual Convention on Capitol Hill. Indeed this convention was quite impressive.

The place was packed with interns, political aids, and head members of NSF. I was just astounded. I talked to some of the other interns working in town and I managed to check out several of the exhibition booths. Three that I particularly liked included the one from U.W. Madison. They were working on an NSF project that had some of their physics students working in Antarctica. Their goal was to detect interstellar neutrinos. Another exhibit I found interesting was the one with the Boston Museum of Science which had a project on working for outreach for nanotechnology. Apparently they were linked with a project out of Madison which was working on a museum exhibit in Milwaukee. Indeed I find it interesting how well networked these projects can be. The last project which I thought was noteworthy was a group psychology and computer programmers who had devised a VR program which would work on treating post traumatic stress syndrome in vets returning from Iraq. I have to admit that at looking at the monitors they had done a good job of recreating the environment that soldiers see over there and according to their field work on the program, stress levels have gone down for their test subjects. They re hoping to eventually make it available to VA's for helping veterans. I think that's pretty cool.

After the convention started to wind down we had dinner with Frederick Dylla, AIP's CEO at the Capital City Brewery Co which was right at Union Station. We had a pretty big crew go. It was a really nice place and I had my first bit east coast seafood at this place along with a sampling of the local brew. Quite delicious I have to admit as by the time I was done I was stuffed. Some of the other guys even managed to try some of the brownies and ice cream for dessert. We talked about what we had enjoyed seeing at the convention and about things we had seen in town. It was indeed some good fun.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007
Company picnic not more than a day away! Today Ryan and I are working on figuring out the final touches on what the interns will be running at the company picnic. We figured to run our collision experiment in one of the conference rooms, the Rainbow Room in the other conference room, and our new battery of Mentos experiments which we had devised to optimize our Mentos propelled car for the SOCK.

One of our first tasks was to design as mechanism for simultaneously igniting 10 Mentos engines. This we did by using a long piece of thin wooden board with strings attached. These strings were attached to the office clips on the ignition system. We then had two people pull up quickly on the board and all the clips are released almost at once. It worked perfectly. We were ready for the picnic.

After work it was wine-and-dine time once again. Jack had managed to get us an invitation with the American Chemical Society to see their facilities and hear about the programs they have to offer. We met a couple of their interns who worked on Project Kaleidoscope. This group's goal was to allow undergraduate students to have access to learning experiences in science and technological fields.

Afterwards our hosts from ACS took us to a fine Middle Eastern restaurant. Two days in a row of getting to go out for dinner with our AIP family. This was something I never would've expected in one of my regular jobs back home. The comrade that such things bring is just amazing to observe and something I have not seen in a while. It is indeed really cool.

Thursday, 28 June 2007
Company picnic day! Ryan and I are busy getting last minute prep done. Ryan headed to the store with Doug to pick up additional supplies and I stayed behind at AIP to get gear down to our rooms. Meagan and Andy worked the Collision Experiment, Andrea and Katie worked the Rainbow Room, and Ryan and I worked on the Mentos cart experiment. Not only did we have these cool things running at the same time but we were also getting pretty lucky at getting our raffle numbers drawn. Andy, Meagan, and Ryan both got up for the Price is Right Game . Myself, I did the country line dancing and managed to learn that two lefts don t always make a right in dancing. When we ran our Mentos experiment it was a big hit with the crowd and we got lots of questions. Other than that it was pretty good fun but with all good fun comes the clean up at the end.

Friday, 29 June 2007
Everybody at work is all geared up for the weekend after yesterday's party. Ryan and I were going to fire off another one of our Mentos experiments to get some additional data. When we video taped the experiment from yesterday, the tops of the spray from the soda was cut off, which is what we needed to figure out the most efficient hole size. So we ran her again. Once we narrowed it down to two optimal sizes we loaded up the carts for a test run. And they were off! They did quite well until a wheel on each cart disconnected and stopped them cold. I was a little disgruntled since I had put lock washers on those wheels to lock them up tight. Apparently to no avail. Now we were faced with the possibility of having to find another dynamics cart. Not cool we had put so much time into getting this part of the project ready for the SOCK. Back to the drawing board.

By the end of the work day I think I managed to locate another good dynamics cart, however, we wouldn't be able to test it until next Thursday because of the 4th of July holiday. A little frustrating but at least it was the weekend. Time to get ready for the Shenandoah National Park hike I had been planning for a few weeks.

Saturday, 30 June 2007
Indeed I had almost forgotten the unique beauty that the countryside can have. After having the fun and adventure of exploring the gorgeous monuments and treasures that Washington D.C. has to offer it was a change of pace to see the lush green hills and valleys of Virginia. But it was a welcome change.

Earlier this morning Katie and her room mate, Chris, came to G.W. to pick up myself, Jesus, Enrique, and Andrea for some hiking at Shenandoah National Park. I had been waiting for this trip for a while since I had heard how close the mountains were. Plus I knew some of the Civil War history that was in these hills. So I looked forward to seeing the land from a nice mountain peak. I had been digging around online and asking around at work as to what were the best trails hit in the park.

We arrived at the park at 10:00 at the Swift Run Gap, a little further south than I had originally anticipated. But we found a good trail to hit just a little ways in. We checked out the South River Falls trail. It was a really good hike. For one the deer in this park seemed really non apprehensive of park visitors. We walked upon two in our first few minutes of the hike. Then we came upon a small creek and of course being science majors curious about nature, we couldn't just settle for looking at it from the path. So we separated from the well traveled path to explore the unknown of the river and all its cool rock formations. I hadn't done fun exploring like that for a while now. Indeed it feels good to do fun stuff like this again.

Once we had checked out the river we made it back to the trail and continued on to the falls. What a site that was, seeing an 86 waterfall with a small pool at the bottom. We had a few snacks while admiring the view. Then we pressed on and that's when we realized that we had been going all down hill to see this and now we had to hike a rather steep grade to get back to our cars.

Back at the trail head we broke out the charcoal and fired up one of the grills at the campsites. Hot dogs never tasted so good after an endeavor like that. It was nice to just kick back and relax. For some reason I particularly liked the smell of charcoal. Guess it's the camping aspect of it.

After lunch we had a quick business meeting on where to go next. We decided that we should either find some more falls or hit the tallest thing in the park. Yup we voted on hitting the tallest point in the park, Hawksbill Mountain at 4,050 ft. And I tell you that was another really awesome hike, although this one was tougher on the ascent, but we made her and the view was breathtaking. We climbed around along the summit for a ways checking out the views from the various angles. We took some really nice photos. But before we knew it, it was time to go. I was pretty exhausted by the time we got back to the vehicles, but it had been indeed a really spectacular day.

Sunday, 1 July 2007
Laundry day and mandatory R&R. Well alright maybe not mandatory but indeed after yesterday's endeavors I have to kick back a little bit. Good day to get laundry done and my journal. But I have heard that there are plans to check out the National Cathedral and the Smithsonian Ethnic Fest which is on the Mall for the next few days. It sounds to be pretty interesting. I'm looking forward to checking it out although I plan on not going too fast today. I'll have to write more on this in my next journal entries.

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Week of June 18, 2007

Monday, 17 June 2007

The word for the day is busy and indeed it was. Over the weekend Gary had picked up some supplies for our demonstration at Tuckahoe Elementary School. He even found some gingerbread cookie cutters which looked perfect for making our test playdoh figures, however later testing of the equipment proved that this was actually not the case. In fact I spent the better part of the morning running extensive crash tests to see which would be most effective for demonstrating realistic crash results. In the end, I found out that the thin Dora playdoh figure would work out best mainly b/c of her thickness and also because she was top heavy which aided in making the collision look more graphical.

Once I had completed that phase of the testing I had to finish prepping the ramps and then I had to work on the skateboard to make it roll more efficiently so that it could pick up more speed on the ramp. I also added some Velcro to the seatbelts to make fastening our passengers easier to accomplish. Once that was all done I had to work on updating Ryan's outline for the class and then help Gary get the gear all packed up into his car. It was funny seeing that thing so loaded up with gear. In fact it reminded me of my earlier college days when I moved into and out of the dorms. Yeah my little Geo Metro was packed to the ceiling with all my gear. It's amazing how much stuff can accumulate in a dorm room after a year.

After that all got done I went back to G.W. But before I could crash for the day I got together to meet with Andrea, Andy, and Meagan to go over a brief discussion of how we were going to run the event. After the meeting it was finally time to crash.

Tuesday, 18 June 2007
Oh man have I forgotten how much energy 3rd graders can have! Now if only we could develop a way to trap all of that energy of theirs, our nation's energy crisis would be over! Indeed today I am convinced from all the laughter and creative brainstorming that I saw in the classroom today that we clearly inspired some of these kids to pursue learning about physics and science. Who knows one, of these days I might be working side-by-side with one of these talented kids. I have to say that today was indeed one of my top most days here in D.C. It is good to be reminded of where all the work we do eventually goes for, and that is the kids. I've included the details in a report that I made following the event.

Wednesday, 19 June 2007
Analysis day. After coming off of the rush that I had yesterday it's hard to get back to regular office life again. Oh wait, did I say regular office life ? Wow I'm already somewhat transitioning out of the student mind frame. Weird. So today my main objective is to check with my fellow interns to see what they thought of the lesson plan, write up a report about it and send it to Ryan so he can see what needs to be changed with his lesson plan. Although from the success of the event I would say that only a few minor changes and she's good to go for putting in the SOCK.
The other thing I have to work on is going through the NSDL records that we received and see which ones are textbooks, and which ones have reviews that are available from the American Journal of Physics.

Almost forgot today's fun highlight of the day! After work I went to the ball field with Ray Chu to play some pick up baseball. Man did I have an awesome time! I hadn't played a game of baseball since high school and it felt great. I always thought I d get a chance to do it in college but my studies have always kept me away from it. The team was made up of some really awesome mix of guys from undergraduates, graduates, and professors from the University of Maryland. I even met Dr. Richard Berg who does Physics is Phun outreach program with the university.

We played until dusk. I didn't manage to wrack up any outstanding statistics that game. I did manage to hit every time I was up to bat, even though each one was a fly out. Ah, they just had some really good outfielders. After the game we headed over to a local pizza place where they had huge home made pizzas. I was after the Hawaiian one. There I got to talk a bit more with Dr. Berg. He indeed is an interesting fellow. I talked to him a bit on fluid dynamics stuff because I was curious about what demos he had done with flying technology since I had done last year something similar with a workshop for girl scouts. He told me about the competing principles that were out there and being taught. I was fascinated.

Unfortunately all good things come to an end and we had to head out once the pizza place closed at 9:30. So I bid farewell to the baseball crew and promised them that I would be out again soon to play ball with them. Ray then dropped me off at the metro and it was back to town.

Thursday, 21 June 2007
Alright, it is true that there is a price to pay for having fun. This morning when I woke up I was pretty sore from my last night's endeavors in baseball. It was indeed fun and I wouldn't trade the experience for anything, but indeed I must remember to stretch a lot more after the game. A hot shower did do wonders for me and I was back and rolling.

At work, Lyle came in to show me and Gary how to work this online computer program called Omniture which gives you statistics about a website that you own. It is really a pretty neat program. When I saw all the features that this program had I was rather stunned, in fact the quote of Big Brother is watching you definitely came to mind.

After the demo I worked on getting some statistical information from the program so I would have something to present at the meeting with how well the Nucleus was being used by internet users. In fact, Gary and I found an interesting correlation in the data. From the graphs we saw it was apparent that usage of the site increased every time Gary sent out emails to SPS and Sigma Pi Sigma members. Another thing we figured from the graphs was that usage also tended to increase in late December and continue on till like late February. This anomaly I think is explainable by the fact that this was the time period which corresponds to when applications for internships and cooperative learning experiences are due. It is neat to see how companies are able to get statistics and analyze usage of the internet.

Friday, 22 June 2007
It is Friday! Yeah I think no matter if you even have your dream job, there is always a bit of elation when it comes to the end of the work week. Today I emailed my state Senators to let them know that I was in town and that I would be attending the CNSF Exhibition on Capitol Hill on Tuesday. I am so excited about this event. Jack gave us a run down of what to expect and he gave us the names of some of the websites that we should check out before attending. One had a flyer of who was all going to be exhibiting at the exhibition. I saw U.W. Madison was showing something along with Boston Museum of Science. Both of those exhibits I mean to check out rather and talk to the people at the booth.

After we got our briefing from Jack I worked on finishing up a few loose ends for the statistics I needed for my meeting on Monday. Then I messed around with that Mentos rocket to see if I could get our cart to go some distance. This proved to be rather difficult and I even tried a couple of dynamics carts which I had ordered. They unfortunately didn't work very well as the wheels were poorly constructed and have a tendency to fall off. I tried a couple of quick modifications including using hot glue to keep the nuts in. This kind of worked but then the wheel nut came loose. This proved to me that lock washers are in order but maybe another company should be considered for the carts.

After work we decided to catch a quick bite to eat at the dorms and then we decided to file up the Poker table. This time we had accumulated enough change to make betting more entertaining. I figure that by the end of this internship it might be my paycheck on the table. And that I'll have to be careful on as Meagan has an outstanding Poker face. I have to work on mine and I'll probably go the route that the Poker players on T.V. go with by wearing some fancy outfit. That d be pretty cool. Huge sunglasses and maybe Mexican sombrero would be my outfit.

Saturday, 23 June 2007
Today after recouping from some hard core poking playing our objective was to tour the Washington Monument which I found out is the tallest structure in Washington D.C. at 555 feet high. Talk about an interesting measurement to end at. For the tour a National Park ranger took us up in an elevator to the observation deck of the monument. We were 500 feet high and talk about a view. It was as good a view as I saw when my plane was coming in two weeks ago. The observation deck allowed us to view the city in all four cardinal directions. I found interesting was that they had historical snap shots so you could compare what the city looked like at different stages in history. When we were back on solid ground again we gathered by the base of it and then looked straight up. We were told that if you did this you might get dizzy. I'm not sure if it really worked as none of us got dizzy from it.

After the tour we checked out the Native American Museum. It was really cool to see all the different artifacts and displays they had. One tribe that particularly stood out for me was the Matise Tribe. They apparently incorporated into their culture music and dance style which sounds like River dance but it incorporates French, Canadian, & Native American aspects to it. This music is displayed at a festival called Matise Days. I'll have to check it out sometime. I also thought the displays on Native People's beliefs were quite interesting too. In fact it was neat to see what beliefs they had which intertwined with the stellar and planetary cycles.

After this we headed back to the dorms to get some food. Later on that evening one of Ryan's friends from the city was going to come on over. She mentioned that she knew a couple of good places for us to check out for some D.C. night life. I thought this would be pretty cool as I had never had much of an opportunity before to check out city night life.

Sunday, 24 June 2007
Lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Instead of going to see the wonderful wizard of Oz we were off to the Smithsonian Zoo. Ryan, Meagan, Andy, Ali, and I were out for a safari today! We had our list of targets that we wanted to check out at the zoo. Indeed the Zoo was much bigger than I had expected, but then again I think I'm beginning to get accustomed to the fact that everything in this town comes big.

It was good to do some walking in an area where there was a lot of greenery. We checked out the Panda exhibit to see if the mother had her kid yet. Then we checked out the Lion, Tiger, and Cheetah exhibit. I have to say I never knew how far a Cheetah's leap was until we saw it displayed on the sidewalk. It is as big as my current dorm room's length! Plus that Cheetah can haul with its top speed being 70 mph. I told Ryan that he probably shouldn't test his running skills against that cat.

We managed to get through the whole park in a day. I think this weekend I put some quality walking time on my shoes. But indeed it was fun. Now it was time to get back to the dorms to check on my crock pot cooking. I had made up a batch of chicken pot pie filling which I planned to share for dinner with the crew. I hope it tastes good!

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Week of June 11, 2007

Monday, 11 June 2007
Today was a really awesome day. I have to admit that getting up this morning was rather difficult after having such an adventurous weekend touring Washington D.C. and seeing as many sites and monuments as possible. I still had the hazy fog of sleep when I stepped off the metro at College Park station. So at work I mixed a batch of my favorite source of caffeine, Chai Tea Latte, and I fired up my computer. To my surprise, I had a ton of emails to go through from people at work giving me information on my ComPADRE and SOCKS projects.

One happened to be from Gary White and in it was information on a website he had found over the weekend. He also attached two documents containing information on a seat belt and airbag experiment which he had found. After reading through it I became really excited. This would be a perfect addition to our SOCKS kit. It would be a fun and exciting way to evaluate collisions in NASCAR. We had to get this in our kit.
Then I continued reading on the email and Gary mentioned that he had gotten permission from the third grade teacher at Tuckahoe Elementary school to do physics demonstration for 25 third graders. Now came the task to prepare a trial run of the SOCK idea with some students. I was really excited and anxious to share this news with Ryan who was also working on the project.

That would have to wait for a bit though. I was on a mission after work to obtain something vital to my survival. I had recently learned from Andrea that she had discovered a Target which was just off of the metro stop at Prince George's Plaza. Sweet as now I knew I could finally obtain a crock pot (slow cooker is the technical term) for cooking in the dorms. I could finally attempt to do some cooking for the rest of the group.

So I stopped at Target along with Andrea and we did some shopping. I had quite a few bags but I was lucky Andrea was willing to help me out. So I was the one who carried her through the metro. Man did I get a few funny looks from people on the metro. But none-the-less I was happy to have my toy. I spent the rest of the evening digging through recipes to determine what I wanted to cook and what I needed to buy. I finally settled on a roast beef hash which we could use for eating at work.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007
Well, for work I spent most of the day discussing with Gary the finer points of working on the Collision project. First off we had to figure out what type of vehicle we were going to use. I searched the web looking for various types of momentum carts used in experiments. They were all a bit expense but after some further talking with Gary we decided that it would be more fun and exciting to use a skateboard modeled as a car with seats for the demo. Next we would have the third graders make their own play-doh figurines to put in the car and then run it down a ramp at a brick to see how well different types of seatbelts protected the passengers. Finally the kids could record the speed they obtained from the radar guns and graph the data of damage vs. speed.

Once I had completed getting the orders for our test runs it was time to go home. I was doubly excited about heading back. First off I was anxious to fill in Ryan about the days events with our project. Secondly I was going to fire up my crock pot for the first time. I spent about an hour and a half cutting vegetables and the meat for my hash. Then after all the stuff was cut I put in the onions and meat in to cook in the pot for almost 9 hours! Oh such a long time but it would be oh so good! By the time it was going Meagan had dinner ready. She had cooked us up an Enchilada Casserole with homemade guacamole, chips, and salsa which Jesus had helped in making. It was really good and it was almost becoming tradition with us to do this round robin cooking. It was quite fun. I m thinking about doing a group one with my crock pot for Sunday.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007
This morning I went to Target to do a little shopping for the Collision experiment we are going to be doing on Tuesday with some third graders from Tuckahoe Elementary school. I m really looking forward to the show but must preparation must be done before hand. At Target I managed to pick up three Hot Wheels radar guns, two skateboards, and some Play-doh which we had to do some testing on. Plus I picked up some mentos which we planned on testing with some Diet Coke to see if it could go into the SOCK.

After picking up all that stuff I had to drag all that stuff through the lines at the metro to AIP. Not too bad for work but the day had already gotten hot. At work I began to construct some temporary seating for the Play-Doh people. However I had to acquire many tools and supplies. So Doug and I did lots of trekking through AIP looking for card board, duct tape, cutting knives and the whole ball of wax to get the skate boards ready for their preliminary run. By the end of the day Doug and I were a bit worn out but we had fun going from the kids day care center to get cookie cutters to dumpster diving to get cardboard. I hadn t had that much fun working on a project for a long time. It was cool. But the test board was completed and ready for testing when Gary brought in the goods making a ramp.

Thursday, 14 June 2007
Gary was awesome on his word for bringing goods in for construction. First thing we did that morning was began experimenting with a ramping system for our collision cart. We tested the skateboards on the ramp we made and found they rolled pretty descent but did have a tendency to slow down a bit because of poor bearings in the tires. Luckily James, one of the education guys from 4th floor is really into skateboarding. Apparently for the 2005 Year of Physics he incorporated some physics of skateboarding. He even got involved with one of the episodes of the Discovery Channel's Mythbusters!

So I talked to James and he was able to loan us a couple of sets of wheels to replace the ones on the skateboards I had purchased. I took a test run with the new wheels and they added about another 4-5 mph according to the speed guns.

After getting all this stuff together I constructed some sturdy seats to place our test figures on the board. Then we ran a few test runs and found the figures to show the appropriate damage for the collisions. Gary and I then discussed some possible ideas for the strapping of the figures into the seats to make it easy. Velcro looks to be a pliable material for this job. We then hashed out some ideas as to the structure of the show.

Friday, 15 June 2007
Today Ryan and I ran through some further testing of the ramp and collision cart. We talked about we should consider formatting the show, what possible hang ups we might have and what some of the last minute supplies we would need. Then we met with Gary, Andy, Meagan, and Andrea who were also going to help run the show with the third graders. Ryan wouldn t be able to go on this one as he will be working with MERSEC on Tuesday. I ll have to get him some pictures so he sees the results of our planning.

After work we kicked back at the dorms for a bit. We pulled out the Cranium Board Game that I had picked up at Target and gave it a run. Through this little run we found out who the true natural actors in our group are. Jesus, Krystyna, and I turned out to be the trivia masters by winning the first game. Ryan and Meagan were running a close second. Enrique and Andrea were a bit further back. They had claims that we rigged the game; we figured they had to work on their clay making and drawing skills. It was all good fun and I will definitely have to thank Meagan for the party game recommendation.

Saturday, 16 June 2007
Today I visited Arlington National Cemetery. I decided to explore this one on my own a bit as I wanted some time for some retrospective thought. Indeed I found it rather touching to see this place. For one I had no idea how large this place was until I visited it. Second I found a tribute of sorts to the fallen soldiers who had died in the war on terrorism. It was quite touching as artists from all over the country volunteered to paint portraits of our service men lost to this cause. With the number of portraits there one definitely gets a more proper and personal perspective of 3,000 plus killed in action.

After checking out this I went to go see the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I managed to just arrive in time to see the placing of a wreath ceremony at the tomb. Very touching and moving, especially when the marine bugler played taps. I then watched the changing of the guard. Indeed how ceremonious the Marine Corps is about this. They definitely hold nothing back.

Once I had gotten done with Arlington I linked up with Katie and then we met the rest of the crew at the Museum of Natural History. I have to say that Washington has no holds when it comes to having very beautiful and large buildings with lots of exhibits to see. I could ve toured this place forever. We saw everything from fossils showing earths time periods to the Hope Diamond to the development of humans throughout the ages.

Afterwards we were totally hungry. Where to eat became the question to answer? But what would be a unique place we had never been to that would be good. Chinatown! I had been accustomed to like Chinese buffets but now was the time to get a flavor for the real stuff along with maybe some Chinese beer, something which I hadn t sampled yet. Got to love D.C., definitely a place to see and do new things!

Sunday, 17 June 2007
Ah yes, recoup day! I enjoyed sleeping in and then taking a run to one of the local stores for some breakfast. Some of the crew headed to the art gallery, me I did a little poking around downtown to see if I could find some more useful stores. You got to love exploring. Later I would work on the finishing touches to my journal.

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Week of June 4, 2007

Man it is so hard to believe that already a whole week has gone by of my internship with the American Institute of Physics.  It seems only like yesterday when I was driving my Ford Focus on the highway passing the small farms and corn fields of Wisconsin.  Now I am zipping by on the Washington D.C. metro!  What a change in such a little time.  In fact it is sometimes a little disorientating but indeed oh so exciting.

It’s hard to think of where to begin.  The excitement began on Saturday when my parents dropped me off at the airport in Green Bay, WI.  I was then off on the 10:00 A.M. flight to Detroit, MN and then on to our nation’s capital, Washington D.C.  Indeed it was incredible to believe.  I, Justin Reeder, was given the opportunity to work with some of the top minds in Physics to work on outreach programs for undergraduates.  How cool was that.  My excitement continued to grow with each passing mile.

Then before I knew it we were on our final descent.  I glanced out the window to see if I could get a glimpse of the city before we landed.  I was indeed not disappointed.  I had a beautiful aerial view of the majestic monuments and government buildings before touching down on the tarmac.  I had not seen such a beautiful site since I last touched grown after arriving home from active duty in Iraq.

After I had collected my two suitcases and a duffel bag from baggage claim it was off to see my fellow interns at George Washington University.  I was elated to finally meet these wonderful people from all parts of the country whom I would get to work and live with.  From the biographies I had read they seemed to be a fun and interesting lot. 

The first ones I got to meet were Krystyna, Enrique, and Ryan. They were really cool and helped me move my luggage into my room and then assisted with my checking in with G.W. Housing.  Then we just kicked back and relaxed while we waited for the rest of us to arrive.  Slowly but surely our number grew until by Sunday all of us interns were in minus Andrea who was at a building ceremony back on her campus.

We had a lot of fun that first weekend exploring about our local neighborhood and picking up groceries.  Krystyna and Ryan were kind of natural to the city lifestyle and helped the rest of us get around and learn the ins and outs of city life.  They showed us how to ride the metro (a definite first for me!), crossing intersections without having to play frogger, finding grocery stores, and other cool points of interest.

The next day was Orientation Day at the American Institute of Physics.  It would be my first time doing a race through the metro system to get to work.  I was glad we were all going as a group as I still had yet to figure the system out.  Ryan took us through with no sweat at all.

Man we were all a bit nervous at first.  We were going to finally see all the people we would be working with at the American Institute of Physics.  Wow!  I still wasn’t quite over the excitement of being in the city.  The day started out with a continental breakfast with some of the top men and women of AIP and it’s fellow organizations including James Stith, Jack Hehn, Gary White, Liz Caron, and many others just to name a few. 
Afterwards we were given a group tour of the building and all its departments and facilities.  The people who work here are really friendly and welcomed us at every turn while telling us about what they did in the office.  After lunch we split up into our respective departments where we would be working.  I got to go with Liz.  She gave me an in depth tour of the second floor, showed me where my desk was going to be at, and helped me meet all of the staff whom I was to be working with.  They were all really cool and welcomed me to the office staff.  Before I knew it, it was time to head on home again.  We interns gathered at the front of AIP and caught the shuttle back to the metro.  It had been a very exciting day.  I couldn’t wait for my first real day on the job to begin.

On Tuesday I would get my first taste of the job.  In the morning I had a teleconference meeting with Dave Donnelly from Texas State University in Liz’s office.  He was to be one of my mentors along with Gary White for the portion of the ComPADRE I was to be working on.  There he laid out some of the relative ideas that Gary and he had discussed would be good improve the website.  I was intrigued with the project.  The first thing I would have to do though was get more familiar with the site.  That was my first assignment for the work week.

My next assignment came in my next meeting which was with Gary White and my fellow intern Ryan.  Gary gave us a quick rundown of the SOCK program and then we began brainstorming up ideas for a NASCAR theme.  We came up with quite a few interesting ones.  By the time the meeting was over with I was indeed quite inspired to get to work on the projects.  But first I had to begin to get organized.  That would prove to take a few days.

Then before I knew it, it was Friday!  The weekend was here!  We had been invited by Gary White to attend a performance of Capitol Steps at the Ronald Reagan Building.  It was my first time that I had gone to a political humor performance.  It was pretty cool how they made up twisted popular songs into hilarious performances ranging from songs about the D.C. metro to the recent purchasing of U.S. ports by the Arabs.  I still remember some of their lines.

The next day we decided to be tourists of Washington, D.C.  We headed for the mall and explored all the monuments in that area.  I was in awe when we explored the Lincoln Memorial.  To be so close to a monument dedicated to one of the greatest men to hold our nation together in such time of strife was amazing.  Although to get the full breadth of that wasn’t possible with all the people milling about.  I promised myself that I would go back to these monuments again early in the morning along with Arlington National Cemetery to pay my proper respects.

After lunch we hit up the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  Talk about a physics fanatic’s best dream.  The opportunity to see tons of exhibits on the practical application of physics.  I was indeed in heaven!

After lunch we hit up the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  Talk about a physics major’s best dream.  The opportunity to see tons of exhibits on the practical application of physics under one roof.  I could’ve spent days in their browsing through the exhibits.  One of my favorites was the one on space exploration where they showed how the instruments worked on the satellites.  But by the end of three hours we were pretty beat but before we were done we figured to check out Union station.

On Sunday I spent the day pretty much relaxing and recouping from the weeks activities.  It was Enrique’s birthday and Jesus had gotten the cool idea to bake a cake for him.  So we went to Harris Teeters to pick up the supplies.  When we got back, Jesus got to work on the cake.  That evening, Jesus got all the interns together and we sang Happy Birthday for him.  We also made an attempt at singing in Spanish but it didn’t quite work out too well.  Oh well.  After cake we enjoyed watching the NBA finals on Enrique’s new T.V. which he had lugged all the way from Best Buy to the Metro and then to F.S. Key Hall.  That was a heck of a trek, but then again, he really likes his basketball.

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