Programs & Awards
2009 SPS National Interns
2009 Interns | Past Interns | About the Program

  • Introduction
  • Online Journal
  • Final Presentation
Erica Watkins Erica Watkins
Chicago State University (Chicago, IL)
Internship: MRSEC Summer Camp/SPS SOCK
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What's Going on!

My name is Erica Watkins- it's so cool that Leslie and I have the same last name! :-) I am a senior attending Chicago State University- graduating with a B.S. in Physics with Bioscience applications next spring!- I'm so excited! As for physics, I am primarily interested in optics and high energy physics but both from a biological standpoint. My plans after graduation are not solidified because I have so many interests and I never limit myself- I'm going for everything! However, the strongest contenders are either going into Optometry school or pursuing a Ph.D. in Medical Physics. I currently am involved with Physics Education Research where I analyze the effectiveness of clickers in the learning environment. I have previously done research in HPLC and GC/FID analysis of organic compounds and transfection of mammalian cells using a GeneSwitch system. On campus, I am the president of my SPS chapter- like my buddy Scott above me, a member of Sigma Pi Sigma, and a senator on the Student Government Association.

I completely LOVE tennis! I have been playing for seven years and played for Chicago State my first two years. I am definitely bringing my racquet and a few extras for anyone else who would like to join. I also like to work out and weight-lift so Erin, hopefully we can go to the weight room. I have always liked to cook but more than anything, I like to eat! Raina- I would love to try some of your Indian cuisine and Mary, I can hang with you and the pancakes!- day or night! And oh yeah! I am a complete Chocaholic! I like staying busy and and trying new things. Always open for a new adventure! and Ian- none of my friends like rollercoasters as much as I do. One day we should roll! As far as music, I like all genres: R&B, Soul, Hip-Hop, Rap, Pop, Jazz- I recently got into country- The Rascal Flatts and Taylor Swift are awesome!

Well, I enjoyed reading everyone's bio. I look foreward to kickin' it all summer with y'all!.... See ya soon!.... ;-)  


Erica Watkins Erica Watkins
Chicago State University (Chicago, IL)
Internship: MRSEC Summer Camp/SPS SOCK
Follow SPS on: Twitter Facebook YouTube Photobucket The Nucleus Email and Share
Final Reflections Friday, July 31st Friday, July 10th Friday, June 19th
Photo Album Friday, July 24th Friday, July 3rd Friday, June 12th
Friday, August 7th Friday, July 17th Friday, June 26th Friday, June 5th

Final Reflections

WOW! Is the word of this final entry! I cannot believe everything that I have experienced this summer! Before I began typing this entry, I read over my previous journal entries. Boy, did I write a lot. I mean and the things I included in the journals only touch on all the things that I was able to do and only touches on the lessons that I have taken from this experience. I am so happy I was able to live with all PHYSICS students that are my AGE!! I have never been surrounded by people just like me. It was very interesting to see what the interests were of the other interns. The physics community at Chicago State is extremely small and I have never really gotten to hang out with any of the other physics majors because Chicago State is a “non-traditional school” in that the overall population is older and majority commuters. I will definitely say that I enjoyed spending time with the other interns and seeing how they feel about physics. It was so good to talk to someone at a completely different school about the same exact classes. This was a great experience.

In addition to meeting new people and seeing new perspectives, my job in the internship has taught me many beneficial lessons that I will remember forever. This internship was unique because I was able to experience the “physics world” from another side. I was able to see all the work that goes into holding together an international society. I thought that perhaps by having a job as such, the physics would be lost in paperwork. However, I was mistaken. I was able to use the things that I learned in my studies and relate it to a more general audience through outreach activities and experiments. I also learned how to “Do It Myself!” If there is one lesson that I cherish the most from this internship, it was the lesson of being proactive and resourceful. Through my time in DC I was required to put tasks, assignments, lessons, meetings, and events together and in perspective with little overseeing and guidance. This I am thankful for because I learned to not focus on small details but to execute as much as possible and as accurately as possible. I believe this internship has greatly benefited me and molded my personality and worth. I would not have done anything else with my summer.   

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Friday, August 7th

This is it- the last week I will be here in Washington, DC. To wrap everything up, I decided that I should do all that I have been saying I was going to do the whole summer. So, a group of us decided to go to Ben’s Chili Bowl on Saturday. When we got there, the line was forming around the building. So, many people may not have heard of Ben’s Chili Bowl, because I had never heard of it until this summer. However, Ben’s Chili Bowl is like a monument in DC. It is one of the oldest run fast food joints on U Street. It is one of Bill Cosby’s favorite restaurants to eat at. Barack Obama had also eaten there. Well, needless to say, it definitely lives up to its famous name. I mean the food is AWESOM! They have by far the best chili I have ever tasted, and they have vegetarian chili and turkey burgers! I am happy I experienced it before I left. After Ben’s Chili Bowl, we decided to go back to Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. We walked around for a while but the most interesting part was when we went to the boardwalk. When we walked toward the river, I noticed that there was a boat docked. I immediately began to think of Navy Pier and how there are taxiing boats there. Then before you know it we were checking out the prices to take a trip on the boat. We noticed that there was a boat that toured all the monuments. We quickly thought that we live near all the monuments and Georgetown so, it would drop us off only a short walking distance from Fulbright. So, we hopped on the last tour that we caught within minutes and enjoyed a 30 minute boat ride to Georgetown! Never did all of us imagine that we would have been taking a boat back home that night! It was great. Once we got back we decided to hop right back onto the Metro and go to Adam’s Morgan in search of the famous pizza joint that sold HUGE slices of pizza for 5 bucks! Oh yeah, we weren’t joking!... We wanted to get the most of our last days in DC! When we got to the pizza place, my expectations were blown away. I had heard the pizza slices were big but these slices were HUGE! I mean they have to serve this pizza slice on TWO plates! We had a blast!

As for work, MRSEC ended last week and this week was used to catch up on everything for the SOCK. I was somewhat concerned with the SOCK because there was so much that needed to get done but in the end we pulled together as much as possible. On Wednesday, Gary, Mary and I went shopping for all the materials we wanted to put into the SOCK. We actually gathered a lot and got a lot out of the way. I am happy with all that we accomplished with the SOCK this summer. I think we had a lot of great experiences and ideas. Our time here went so fast!

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Friday, July 31st

I had a great time visiting home but it was a horrible time traveling back. I was going to ride back with my Auntie but something came up where she had to return earlier than expected. So, I arranged to take the train back. Let me tell you; this was probably the worse decision I have made this summer. The commute was 17 hours and it felt like an eternity. I had not planned to be taking the train back to DC so I was not properly equipped with a blanket or sweater and a pillow. So, when it came time for me to get some rest it felt impossible for the following reasons: First, It was extremely cold- it felt like the air vent was positioned directly on top of my seat… and second, I had an aisle seat- the worse kind if someone is trying to sleep. I had the hardest time getting comfortable. Then just when I thought I found a sweet spot, my right calf cramped up! I know the man sitting next to me must have thought I was crazy because I kept on moving around and then when my leg cramped, I uncontrollably elbowed him in the side! I was so embarrassed; I went into the lounge car and tried to sleep there- I was unsuccessful at that as well. So, after 4 hours of trying to sleep, I gave up and read a book. It wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t so cold. I just knew I was going to get sick from being in that temperature for that long. When we finally arrived at Union Station, I got off the train and once the humidity hit me I immediately felt my sinuses clogging and draining at the same time. By the time I got to Fulbright I had a horrible migraine and a sore thought. I unpacked as fast as I could and hit the sack. When I woke up 10 hours later, I only felt worse. Needless to say, I spent all of Monday in another world.

Things at MRSEC this week went well. This was the last camp that I would be helping with and I believe it was one of my favorite. This camp was for middle school students and the camp was all about Nanoscience. The students were very entertaining and they had so much energy and hunger to learn! The lessons I taught were on nanomedicine. I did a presentation on the new treatments of cancer using nanotechnology and some other applications of nanotechnology in the medical field. In conjunction with my lesson the students learned about viruses and how they are a type of nanobot- Nano Robot! All the students created their own Phage which is one of the most popular studied viruses. After creating their own viruses with arts and crafts, the students extracted the DNA from their cheek cells and made a DNA necklace with it. The kids thought this was really cool. A lot of them were amazed that you could see DNA. They thought it was too small to see. I explained that you can see DNA with the naked eye but would have to go through other procedures to see DNA’s structure. I remember when I took my first biology class in college. We dyed and viewed our cheek cells under a microscope. I was not aware that you could see cells with the naked eye as well. However, when I saw the tiny specks on the glass plate I began to look closely at everything to see if I could see any cells. I mean I was analyzing everything from the chicken I ate to the footprints I left on a floor. Science and curiosity will make people do weird things!

On my last day at MRSEC the students had to create a poster on a topic that they learned about. The students would then have to present their posters to an outside party of judges at the end of the day. A camp counselor was assigned to each group to help them out and the group that the judges thought did the best received a prize. My group decided to do their poster on liquid crystals. They looked up all the history and the different phases of liquid crystals and they did a nice job of translating what they read into their own words. I was very proud of them and the way they worked together. I helped them with organizing their poster and I suggested information for them to look up but the presenting part was all them. When it came time for them to present I felt like a mother watching her children walk for the first time. They got up there and showed everyone what they knew! They knew all about liquid crystals! They barely looked at their poster during their presentation. They did a great job and I was extremely proud of them! I was proud of all of the students. One group decided to do their poster on the nanomedicine presentation I gave. When I was giving the presentation I was not sure if they all understood or even cared, but when I saw that group go up and do a better job at explaining nanomedicine than I did- it almost brought a tears to my eyes!... The presentations were so good, the judges had a hard time declaring a winner. It ended up that there was a tie between my group and another group that presented on nanotechnology in sports. Those students were very bright and I bonded with them a lot over the week. At the end we made liquid nitrogen ice cream for them and said our last good-byes! I truly enjoyed my experience at MRSEC!   

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Friday, July 24th

This week I was scheduled to work with MRSEC for the Science, Engineering and You camp, Monday through Wednesday. The Science, Engineering and You camp is for elementary school students and the fun thing with this camp is that it is extremely hands on and they study a different science every day. Monday was Chemistry, Tuesday was Physics, Wednesday was Environmental Science, Thursday was Biology, and Friday was a review and combination of them all. I lead Tuesday’s activities of course. I did an introduction presentation on what physics was and the different types of things physicists study. I also told them about some famous physicists like Galileo, Marie Curie and Mae Jemison. After their introduction I conducted an optics lesson. It was a simple lesson with a few laser and refraction demonstrations. I didn’t want to get too deep into the different types of lenses and the primary rays because they were elementary school students and all the information may have overwhelmed them. They pretty much walked from my lesson knowing that light travels through air in a straight path but when it goes from one medium to another it refracts or bends. The students really liked the laser demonstration because we turned off the lights and sprayed fog so they could see the beam bending. When we did that they all were like “OOOOH, WOOOW!” in amazement. I love the little kid camps. They are so dramatic!

Another one of my favorite activities in this camp was on Environmental Science Day. They learned about their ecological footprint. So basically the way you use energy and your lifestyle on earth contributes to how big your ecological footprint is. So, someone with a large ecological footprint would be a person that always kept the lights on, drove everywhere and made a lot of trash. We talked with the students about ways they could shrink their ecological footprint- recycling, using renewable forms of energy and such. Then we had the students trace their foot on a “special” piece of paper and decorate their foot with all the ways to help the earth stay healthy. This paper is “special” because it was shrinky dink paper and when you put it in an oven, it shrinks. So, the kids were able to shrink their ecological footprint with the things they learned today and have it to keep. We punched holes in their feet for them to put them on a key ring. I really like that lesson.

At the end of this week I was able to go home. My cousin was getting married on Saturday and my auntie was driving up for it. So, of course I was like “heck yeah I’m riding with you!” So, I decided to pack up the bulk of my things because I knew that when I came home I would only have less than 2 weeks left. This way I wouldn’t be paying all those big bucks to fly everything back home with me. The drive was 17 hours but it really went by fast. Me and my aunt took turns and drove. We even stopped once for lunch and another to get gas. I think the reason the ride went to fast was that my aunt bout a book n CD. The book was “A fortunate Son” by Walter Mosley and let me tell you, It was VERY interesting and kept out attention the whole ride. The only bad part was that we got to le last CD where everything was coming to an end, I stuck the CD in the player and it skipped every other word. I took it out thinking it was dirty and noticed it was cracked straight down one side of the CD. So no matter what part we put the CD on it was still going to skip. We couldn’t believe it!

When I got home my mother greeted me and we chit chatted for a while then I called my sister to get her to bring my niece over. It has felt like forever since I have seen her.  Since, I have been gone she has gained 4 more teeth, learned 3 new words and has learned to do her own rendition of a crawl! I’m so proud of her and was elated to spend some time with her! But to tell you the truth, now that she is mobile, she is all over the place! I was ready for her mom to come pick her up after 8 hours. On Friday I took a trip out to Charleston, IL . A friend of mine is moving to Texas and a friend and I went down there to see him off. While there, we decided to go fishing in Charleston Lake- where I caught my first fish!! Now I have been fishing for a year now and I hadn’t yet caught a fish! But those days are over; I caught two fish on Friday! Yay!   

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Friday, July 17th

Weekend, July 11-12th
“Washin’ and Relaxin’”
Work: None  
Leisure: This weekend I basically spent time with my Auntie Cynthia. She lives in Virginia- about 30 minutes away from Fulbright. I took advantage of this time to do some FREE laundry and I also showed off my crepe-making skills to my aunt and my cousin on Sunday morning! This was like the highlight of my weekend! But it was good for me to relax over the weekend because I needed to get my rest in for the upcoming week. It was extremely busy because final presentations were right around the corner and we hadn’t even started putting our PowerPoint together. Don’t worry everything turned out just delightful!!! … Keep reading to see…

Oh! I forgot to tell you how our presentations are structured. I’m sure you are wondering who is we and our? Well, everyone in the internship is working in different departments on different topics. However, some of us have split positions where half of our time is spent working on the SOCK and the other half of our time is spent working in some other department.   So, those interns are Mary, Scott and me. We all are collectively working on the SOCK together. So, we decided to do one presentations together where we talk about the SOCK and branch off into our own intern experience. That way we would not have to do two separate presentations. 

Monday, July 13th
“Presentation Pre-vents!”
Work: This day was all about the final presentation! It wasn’t until Friday, but we had presentation practice on Wednesday; which meant that our presentation needed to be finalized by the end of the day. Ok, so the game plan was for everyone to finish up their sections of the presentation, then after lunch we would all meet up to put it all together and practice it. Then after that we were going to take the rest of the day to work on printing out all the materials and gathering all the materials for the optics lesson that Scott had been working on. We scheduled to test the lesson out at UMD on Thursday, the day before our presentations. We thought this was a good idea because it worked out for the camp at UMD and we would also have the results to present on by Friday. The only thing was we didn’t expect for it to be so difficult to pull everything together by Friday. So, did everything play out like it was planned? NO! So here is what actually happened. I spent the morning working on may section of the presentation and for some reason it took me longer until after lunch. Then we met up and put everything together later that afternoon. But between all the comments and discussion on what slides should go where, we basically spent the whole day finishing the presentation. It was tough because we had so much to incorporate into our presentation- three people, their parts in the SOCK and their individual work, and a lesson. Oh I didn’t tell you. We lead a lesson in the middle of our presentation to give the audience a feel for the type of activities we had been developing. So, we had a lot to get together but we got through it and I just took the optics lesson home to read over and edit!
Leisure: None!.... Like literally, I hit the bed when I got to Fulbright!

Tuesday, July 14th
“Environmental Science”
Work: Today I was at MRSEC. I did not participate in any camps but I worked on two lessons that I would be leading in the next camp. The students had a different science each day and my presentation was on Environmental Science Day. So basically, I prepared a 15 minute presentation on climate and alternative energy. Then, I put together a solar cell activity where the students were able to compare the energy from a disposable battery to a solar cell. The point was to show that the same amount of energy comes from both sources but one was renewable and the other- the battery, was not. The lesson also gave the students the opportunity to construct their own solar cell circuit. The objective was to hook the circuit up properly to get a motor to run and an alarm to sound using a mini solar panel. I thought the students would really enjoy the activity! I had a good time preparing the lesson. It actually made me more conscious of how to be friendlier to the earth. I have began to recycle more and I also bought an aluminum water bottle so that I can stop buying plastic water bottles. This is good in that I am not disposing as much plastic and I have also heard that it is not healthy to drink from a plastic water bottle after it has been sitting in the heat for a while. I guess this is my attempt to give back to earth. It endures a lot with all of us living here!
Leisure: Nothing to exciting. I went grocery shopping and tried a new red sauce recipe and added lobster stiffed ravioli. It turned out pretty good.
Wednesday, July 15th
“Let’s nip this in the bud!”
Work:  So, this was the day that everyone has been preparing for. We all arrived at ACP at 10am and had breakfast before we began practicing our presentations. When I got there, I had a feeling of relief because the presentation was done and I knew the only changes that I would be making to it would be minor things- The bulk of it was done. So, my group went first because our presentation was the longest; we had 45 minutes. When I first thought of the presentation being that long, I was like “Whew! We better find a lot to say.” But in reality that 45 minutes flew by really fast.  In the beginning of our talk we had a few technical issues because we didn’t have a clicker to change the slides. It made it hard for us to present because someone else had to click for us. But by the end of the day Tom found his and everyone was able to use his clicker for our presentations… thanks Tom! We did not finish the presentations until a little after 5. It felt like this day dragged because when I say critique… we went through everyone’s presentation with a VERY fine toothed comb. Each presentation got at least 20 minutes of attention. We nipped it all in the bud! Overall, I think everyone did very well on their presentations and if there was anything that needed to be changed, it was minor- like text font or further explanation… things like that. After the presentations we stayed at the office a bit later to make sure everything was ready for tomorrow- we went to UMD to try the optics lesson. 
Leisure: None

Thursday, July 16th  
Work: Today I went to work at MRSEC. In the morning, I worked on the lessons for the Nanoscience camp. In the afternoon, Mary, Scott, Leslie and Gary met me at UMD to set-up everything for the lesson. A lot needed to be set-up and worked out because the lesson was an optics scavenger hunt. The students were told a riddle in the beginning of the scavenger hunt about Galileo Galilei. They were split up into two groups and had to visit 4 stations to gather clues and pieces of a map. On the back of each piece there was a letter on it where all together they spelled out the word WEST. Once they gathered all the pieces of the map and put the word together they had to follow the signs saying “WEST” through the building to an outside courtyard where they would point their telescope WEST to find the answer to the riddle.

I believe the scavenger hunt went well. The students were in high school so the optics concepts weren’t too hard for them to grasp. It amazed me because one of the students in my group figured out it was Galileo right after she read the riddle! I couldn’t believe it. I hadn’t heard of Galileo until college! But we never told her she was right, we kept saying “Umm, we’re not sure! Let’s keep going to find out!” It was funny! We might have to make the riddle and clues a bit more obscure. Overall, I think the students enjoyed it.
Leisure: I had a good night’s rest before presentations!

Friday, July 17th  
“Finally! It’s final!”   
Work: So, today was the day that everyone has been preparing for. We made a few changes to our presentation like adding prizes for the people who volunteered to participate in the lesson and changing the way we introduced each other through the talk. However, mostly everything stayed the same. We had a lot of positive feedback on our presentation. Many said they enjoyed it because it was so engaging! I am completely satisfied with the way that things unraveled. We were kind of stressed out all week and it really paid off.
Leisure: We actually finished everything by 3pm. We all pretty much headed our own way… mostly back to Fulbright to sleep! Later on that day when people woke up, a few of us gathered, looking for something to do to wind down from a tough week. We ended up just getting something to eat and playing pool all night! It was fun!

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Friday, July 10th

“My first summer camp!”

Work: This week was the first camp at UMD. The camp was with high school students from Charles Flowers H.S. The camp focused on Microelectronics and Engineering Design. So, they learned all about electronic circuits and their components, soldering, CAD, and molding and casting. Those are only the main subjects they reviewed. The camp, for it to have only been a week, had a large amount of content knowledge. However, that was the purpose for this camp because the students whom participate in this camp are in a special program at their school, and by successfully completing the camp they receive college credit and a grade. So yes, that means they did have quizzes but, I think we made it fun for them. We did a lot of fun icebreakers and one day we had a picnic where they all ate outside and got to play a little football before going back to work. The object of the camp was for the students to learn about an infrared motion detector. They all got their own kits that they were responsible for soldering and getting it to work properly. Whilst they soldered their IR detector they also made a prototype of an adequate casing for it. Once they made the prototype, they made a mold of the prototype and made a cast of the final product- a case for their motion detector. So, by the end of the camp these students accomplished a lot and I was extremely proud of them all. I must say, my favorite part of the camp was when we had the students go on a scavenger hunt around UMD. They got clues on where to go and when they arrived, one of the camp counselors were there waiting on them. They had to collect Lego pieces at each location; however they had to answer a series of questions correctly before they could move on to the next location. The first group who made it back to the classroom received a prize. The students really got into it and I think it was a good way to allow them to let loose and have some fun. I like these summer camps. My only complaint would be that it is hard work preparing everything. All week I was so tired and in bed by 10:00pm.

Leisure: This week I didn’t do much after work or on the weekend. I sort of just relaxed and washed clothes. On Thursday, a few of us went to this bar/restaurant that had 50 cent tacos and trivia. I felt so bad just sitting there because I have never been good with trivia. There are too many things you have to recall for random trivia. I don’t think my memory is up to it! But it was fun to just have gotten out. Oh, and I discovered another room in Fulbright Hall. So, yeah I knew we had a lounge with a TV but I didn’t know we had a small little “library” right off the laundry room. It was perfect because the internet reception is horrible up on the 5th floor and it is hard to watch TV, send emails or chat on my laptop because I am always worried it will stall. But the router is in the basement so, the “library”- there are quotes around library because there are like 5 books in there! and it does not resemble a library at all, it’s more like just a study room- it’s my new hang out spot. Well, the only thing that sucks about it is that none of the outlets in the room work. So, I have to fully charge my laptop before going down there. Well, I guess that’s all!- I know this is pretty short compared to my last few entries!- I guess things are settling down.       


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Friday, July 3rd

Saturday, June 27th
“Oh So Caribbean!”

Work: None

Leisure: So, all week I had been hearing about DC Carnival. It is a Caribbean parade and festival that they have in DC every year. The parade went down Georgia Avenue all the way to Howard University. I have no idea where it began but the metro let us off at Georgia and Princeton (I believe). When we got off the metro there were so many people wearing Caribbean colors and flags, I knew this was a big event. The music was loud and there were people dressed in beautiful costumes with colorful feathers and beads. I have never been to an event that was solely dedicated to the Caribbean, and to this extent. We all bought different island flags and wore them as bandanas. I had Jamaica and I bought a matching necklace. It was culturally interesting and fun. I would definitely go again if I were ever in DC again.       

Sunday, June 28th
“I feel like a local!”

Work: None

Leisure: Leslie heard of this nice farmers market that goes on every Sunday and a few of us decided to go. It is called the Eastern Market and they had all kind of stuff. It was not only a farmer’s market but also like a flea market as well. There was a lot of things there I would have bought if I were only home and didn’t have to worry about shipping it back to Chicago. While we were there, I bought some peaches and nectarines. I had a total of 5 and I made it home with only 2! They were so good- especially the nectarines. There were also a few stands selling all kinds of foods from honey roasted peanuts to kosher pickles. However, the stand I decided to visit was the crepe stand. The line for these crepes was down the street and it took me 10 minutes to finally get mine. Lets just say, I fell in love. Well, I have had crepes before but these crepes had an extra treat in them that sent me to crepe heaven!.. The crepes had Nutella. It is a chocolate hazelnut spread that will make your toes curl. From what I am hearing, it is what they use in France if they want to do a crepe right! So, I think I have found my second love- first comes chocolate, then comes Nutella!... :-) Overall, the area was very nice and walking around there did not make me feel like a tourist. I felt like a local at the weekly farmer’s and flea market!

Oh for a side note. Later on today I was walking back from the grocery store and the biggest rat ran across my feet. I just couldn’t believe how bold it was because it was not that late and I swear it was less than 3 inches away from me. The sad part is, that’s not the first time I have seen a rat in downtown DC. They are everywhere and love the trash cans! I guess you can say the rats in DC get up close and personal!

Tuesday, June 30th

Work: I basically spent all day on the rolling activity. I found it hard to change the lesson from what we practiced at Tuckahoe Elementary School because we had two sets of everything. We cannot put two sets of everything in the SOCK. So, for the most part today I was brainstorming how to rearrange the lesson to be more cost efficient.

Leisure: After work we had the funniest- if that’s a word, little gathering thus far! And you want to know why it was the funniest?... It included my new found friend Nutella! Yes, when I got home Laurie- another Nutella fan- said after we had crepes on Sunday, it made her want some Nutella. She went to numerous stores, only to be turned down that they were not blessed with the presence of that fair fellow Nutella. Then, with all hope almost gone, Laurie tried one more store- Safeway! And to her surprise, there he was- at the end of the 3rd aisle next to Peanut Butter and Jelly! Oh what a happy lad was she!... :-) Let me stop! But yes, once I found out that Laurie had Nutella, I was all smiles! Leslie pulled up a recipe for crepes and I gathered anything that looked useful for mixing and flipping. All five of us- Laurie, Leslie, Raina, Mary and me-all crepe-making virgins, got down to it and made the best crepes to ever come out of the small kitchens of Fulbright hall! It was a historical event!... One I will remember forever!

Friday July 3rd
“Wasabi—is not for me!”

Work: This week was considered a holiday weekend. So, we got today- our first day off!

Leisure: This morning I slept in late on my day off and for some reason had a taste for calamari! Yeah, I had a taste for calamari at 10:30 in the morning. I have no idea why! But I had bought some a week ago and never had the chance to make it. So, I thought to myself- “What better time than now?” I looked up a few different recipes and settled on a fairly easy one that used a beer batter to fry the calamari rings in. I hopped over to the grocery store down the street to get a lime for garnishing and started cooking right away. When word got around that I was making the calamari, everyone said they wanted to try it so I tried to do a good job. Overall, they turned out fantastic. We even whipped up a very tasty, garlic-full red sauce for dipping. Not bad for a first time.

 After we ate and took a short nap, Raina, Mary, “Specks”- Mary’s friend, and I decided to go to Old Town Alexandria, Virginia to check out a seafood restaurant called Fish Flyy… or something related in that way. The attraction was their sushi bar that was said to have a happy hour where the sushi was $1 a roll. Alexandria is pretty far out on the blue/yellow line, I had not been that far out before. When we got there the little town was so quaint and had a lot of interesting stores and restaurants. When we got to the sushi place, we ordered all kind of sushi! I was quite adamant about not eating raw fish so I called myself only ordering all the cooked sushi. When it came we had so much, I was trying everything! We had crab, salmon, shrimp, and even eel. It was definitely an experience. I like sushi… but a word of advice for anyone who decided to go out for sushi for the first time. BEWARE of that green pasty stuff called wasabi! When it was sitting there it looked similar to guacamole or avocado to me so I take a nice sized chunk of it and place it on top of one of my spicy salmon rolls. The minute that stuff hit my tongue, I swear my eyeballs almost popped out of my face and I saw nothing but a smear of colors!!! My nostrils immediately went numb and I just knew I had made a mistake. It took a little while for me to regain my senses but I endured through it. After that, my sinuses were clear and I didn’t touch a speck more of that wasabi stuff!!... It has the strongest, spiciest taste of horseradish! And I don’t even like horseradish. If someone would have told me, I would have just left it alone, but I guess I learned that lesson on my own. All I can say is- BE CAREFUL!!!

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Friday, June 26th

This week was probably one of the more interesting weeks thus far… I have finally gotten accustomed to the weather and learned how to avoid getting caught in Maryland storms, realized that I am not home and CANNOT go bulk grocery shopping when I have to take the metro home, and concluded that I am going to have to leave work early to go to the maintenance office personally so that they can fix the broken window next to my bed. All these lessons in only a week… Let the good times roll!...

Saturday, June 20th
“What goes up, must come down.”

Work: None

Saturday, Laurie, Scott and I met Brian and my roommate Raina at The Building Museum. I had never heard of The Building Museum and thought to myself, a museum of buildings?... Who’d have thought it? But when we got there we saw a few exhibits, one on churches built around the country, one on “Going Green,” and another on the buildings in DC. But I must admit, the most interesting attraction there was the bucket full of soft blocks that constructed an arch. So, you know us- a group full of physicists; we went right for it. Ok so in my shame, I will admit the first try was sort of a fail. The base blocks weren’t aligned correctly. But, our second try worked like a charm! Now, who would have thought we would have had so much fun at a museum all about buildings. :-) 

Sunday, June 21st
“SURPRISE!... Well, kinda!”

Work: None

Leisure: Sunday was Jose’s birthday. However prior to that Friday the 19th was Brad’s birthday! And as ironic as it sounds, their birthdays are two days apart and they are roommates. Now did that work out or what. So, I felt something nice had to be done. I didn’t get home from work late on Friday but when I got there, nobody but my roommate was around so I started wondering where everyone was. When I asked about Brad, they told me he was with his family and I automatically remembered that it was his birthday. So, Raina and I started brainstorming on surprises for him. We decided to get some decorations, and bake him a cake. Not knowing what time he was expected back, we hurried over to Harris Teeter- a grocery store about 4 stops away on the metro, to gather the supplies. Now before I continue, I must emphasize how important it is to prepare a shopping list when you are shopping in a hurry. I will demonstrate the importance of this by explaining the next series of events… We get to Harris Teeter and head straight for the cake aisle. We pick up this cake that I have never baked before but sounded oh so good; it was a butter yellow cake. So I head over to the oil because I know cake needs oil and I remember that I have never done this cake before and look on the back and realize that it didn’t need oil, it needed butter!... Duh! :-) We had butter at home… check! Next, we spent at least 5 minutes trying to find inexpensive cake decorations that we would not fail at using. Lastly, we went over to the cards aisle to find decorations and perhaps a card. We checked out and as we were leaving, I thought to myself, “Man, that was fast!... we did good!” So we walk over to the mall in search of decorations like streamers and such! Well not one store in Pentagon City Mall had one roll of streamers. So, we settled for wrapping paper, ribbon, and tape that we found at a card store. We check out and head down the escalators… We’re going down and I realize that we have no bake pans to cook this cake in!... I was like “Oh darn, we have to go back to Harris Teeter!” So, we frantically go through the mall again and walk the two blocks to the grocery store. I think the adrenalin hit Raina at this point because by this time, it was getting dark outside and she worried Brad would get home before we would. We grab the pans and zoom through check out. I knew the people who worked there thought we were crazy! We hop on the train and head home. As we are sitting there, we are both relieved that we are finally on our way home to get the surprise on its way… I’m thinking to myself the process of how we want to do it. So, I’m like- we’ll put up the decorations first so that he will definitely see them when he comes in then I will start the cake. I start arranging the counter space in my mind and think of all the ingredients. Then WOMP WOMP! It hit me. I grab the grocery bag Raina is holding and look through it. Raina was startled and asks me “what’s wrong?” I’m like “Look in the bag at the back of the box.” She screams out, “EGGS! WE FORGOT EGGS!” lol It was so funny, but at the same time- we were so mad! We decided to just go home to at least get the decorations up and then go back out later for the eggs. We briskly walk up to Fulbright around 9:20pm. We throw all the bags everywhere and rip everything open. When we get to the wrapping paper to tape it up to his room door, we realize we had no scissors! Raina runs in our kitchen and grabs the butcher knife her mom sent her and charges for the paper!... I just look at her like, “OMG, she has gone crazy!!!” But I was cracking up the whole time because she was a nervous wreck… I was a nervous wreck. Brad and his family could have gotten off that elevator at any given second! Needless to say, we got the decorations done; I calmly finished the cake and didn’t finish decorating it until 11:45pm! Raina had fallen asleep with her head on her laptop so I woke her to show her the finished project. I talked on the phone and eventually turned in for the night. When we got up the next morning we realized that Brad never even came home. But I sort of knew he wouldn’t so I hung a sign on his door saying to come to room 500 for his cake! I thought- All that rushing and worrying for nothing! Brad and his family strolled in around 9am and we all gathered in the hallway on the floor… We sung Happy Birthday and ate cake. The cake that Raina wanted a piece of since last night!.... Comical!!!            
Tuesday, June 23rd
 “Unexpected Partying!”

Work: Monday, I was scheduled to be at ACP all day and on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday I was to be at UMD. So, Tuesday I had to catch up on what I missed Monday. I was assigned parts of the camp to lead and began working on lesson plans for my activities. We completed the directions for a new Icebreaker and reviewed the Nanoscience camp during the last week of July.    

Leisure: After work, we wanted to do something for Jose’s birthday that was on Sunday. Somehow, they found out about this bar called McFadden’s that had a notorious happy hour. Just wanting to get out and celebrate Jose’s 21st birthday, we were in store for more than what we bargained for. The bar became packed with young professionals just getting off work and looking for a good time. The music was loud and reminded me of the type that I listened to at home. By 10:45pm, everyone was dancing and having a blast. The staff was friendly and so was the crowd. I just couldn’t get over how we were partying and having so much fun on a Tuesday night!- It was so unexpected! I’m sure Jose had a good time. I sure did!  

Wednesday, June 24th
“Shall the best HOVER win!”

Work: The main event of the workday was working on the Hovercraft lesson for the Nanoscience camp. We reviewed the activities done last year and were able to construct our own hovercrafts. Last year, after the campers finished making their hovercrafts they had a competition on which would hover fastest across the main lobby floor. There were two groups. I worked with Jimmy and we went against Ryan and Stephen- they are the other camp counselors that I will be working with during the camps. So, the competition was the best of 5 races, and the winners were going to be treated to an Ice cream at the school’s dairy. I have heard nothing but good things about the ice cream at the dairy. So, I really wanted to win. Well, it turned out to be a close competition but Jimmy and I won. We headed over to the dairy but when we got there they were closed… Darn!   

Leisure: I have been hearing such good things about Georgetown and I wanted to see it for myself. So after work I changed my clothes, looked up directions and headed out. Georgetown is an older town that has all kinds of shops and restaurants. It seems to be a major attraction for tourists and locals both. They even had a public library that I could go to if I wanted quiet space to work. I even chatted with a few people I saw carrying tennis racquets about the best places to find courts. I came to find out that there are a few courts nearby. Now all I have to do is find a partner…

Thursday, June 25th
“Whoa!... Now that’s ice cream!”

Work: Today was a hard day of work. Everyone was like busy bees working on their presentations and lesson plans. For the majority of the day, I worked on my presentation that is going to be on next Monday. The camp is called Project Lead the Way and by participating in the camp, students will receive college credit. The students are from Charles Flowers High School and the camp primarily focuses on engineering. My presentation is on the 500 in 1 kit- which is an electronics kit that has 3 manuals that contain a sum of 500 electronics labs. I am going to be instructing the students through two labs: the motion detector and door alarm labs. These labs are ideal for this camp because they explore a wide range of electronic components such as light emitting diodes (LED’s), resistors, integrated circuits, diodes, switches, and other things. I think the students are going to have a lot of fun! After work we decided to head over to the dairy early t get some ice cream since they closed early on us yesterday. There, I ordered this ice cream called Midnight Madness!- you know since I am a complete chocoholic! That ice cream had so many layers of chocolate flavors wrapped up in it, I thought I was in Willy Wonka’s factory! I mean that ice cream was SWEET!.... Very SWEET! That ice cream tastes so sinful, they aren’t certified to sell it anywhere other than on campus!.... It was some good ice cream!   
Leisure: Just relaxed at Fulbright!

Friday, June 26th
“It’s Friday, yeah!... It’s Payday, yeah!”

Work: Today I was at ACP. I continued to work on the rolling lesson that we are putting in the SOCK. I pretty much spent all day on it and I am happy with how it is turning out. I also took a look at the calendar and realized how fast things are going. Our final presentations are in less than 3 weeks. There is a lot to be done and being at ACP all next week to work on the SOCK will be good.  

Leisure: It’s Friday and I got my first paycheck!!! So you know it doesn’t get any better than that! After work, I bought a book I have been wanting.  I have heard so much about it. It is called “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” by Steve Harvey. The book is phenomenal for men and women, singles and married! I like to read novels and recreational books over the summer. It gives me a chance to stay grounded in life. I’m always thinking like a physicist and by reading books, I can remove myself from my world and go to another.

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Friday, June 19th

“Torn Between Two”

Work: This marks the end of week one at the University of Maryland (UMD). So, all this week I was there and let me tell you, it was way different from being in the office at ACP… If you have no idea what ACP is… Please read week one, it’s a good “1”… Get it?... lol! Well anyway, everyone at UMD was very nice. It was good to have spent time in a college setting because I met people my age and got to talk to them about the fun things there is to do out here. This week, we accomplished a lot with the summer camps. So, for those who don’t remember; I am working with MRSEC’s summer program at UMD. There, I will be a camp counselor and I will also get the opportunity to use the campers to test out some of the experiments we are thinking of entering in the S.O.C.K. Like I was saying, this week we went through the first camp and completed the activities ourselves so that we have a solid understanding of the content. We also learned the best way to lead an activity. Overall, this week was very fun. However, I did miss being at ACP and being away for the whole week, away from the SOCK, made me worry about things. We made deadlines for some of the lessons to be completed, and I have not had time to work on them because I have been at UMD. I felt torn between two.  I just hope we are able to get things done with me being away. But I am sure everything will work out perfectly. We have a good group.
Leisure: So I left off on Friday, my birthday, and on Saturday a group of us went to Six Flags! It was great because the amusement park is only about 40 minutes away and we got a deal on the tickets- buy one, get one free. I have heard that Six Flags was going to be closing after this summer. So, I had to go! We left out at 9am and Leslie and I decided to wear our bathing suites so that we could go to the water park. When we met everyone downstairs they laughed at us because we were wearing our bathing suites and they weren’t. I was like- We wanted to go to the water park. Then, Ian was like- no I think you have to pay extra money to get into there. So Leslie and I felt all embarrassed just standing there. But it turned out that you didn’t have to pay extra money and everyone wanted to go to the water park too. So, they made us all spend an hour going to a nearby Target to buy everyone swimsuits. Leslie and I were like- huh!... So, who’s laughing now?.... It was funny!

Oh and another thing- I got to do something I have been wanting to do for years! I went bungee jumping! Well, it was not really bungee jumping it was more like some kind of swing thing. So, it was Ian, Sara and me. We all got strapped in our bungee suites and read the instructions and precautions. As we walked into the gated area, all in a row like little ducks, I felt like I was walking to be prosecuted! We all stood there breathing heavily while the ride operator latched us all together. They had us lean forward so that we were dangling in the air, parallel with the ground. Then, the adrenalin hit me in the heart as we were pulled backwards onto this pole that had to be at least 10 stories high- well that’s how it felt.  We were so high, I couldn’t do anything but scream… I even had to close my eyes because if I didn’t I just knew I was going to pass out. The man down below did a countdown from 3 and on 1 Sara released the latch and we went head first, down to the ground!!! OMG!!! I was so happy to feel the force from the cord pull us back up until we reached the node at the other end and we suspended in the air for 2 seconds and fell backwards! Backwards was way worse than forward because you cannot see where you are falling. Whew!... that was the scariest thing I have ever done! When we came down, all of our hands were sweating and my knees were still shaking as we walked back out of the gate!! Yeah so, definitely an event to remember!!!! I wonder what we will get into this Saturday!!!     

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Friday, June 12th

This week was very eventful! I am now situated at work and I have been through the up’s and down’s with my homesickness! When I first arrived I was extremely anxious and excited however, once I got here I decided I didn’t like it because I didn’t know sense of my surroundings. Then once I got comfortable with taking the metro and learned where things were, I was excited to explore and learn more about my temporary home. But for some reason, this week was extremely tough for me- I really missed home! Mostly I missed having my friends right around the corner, running to the mall when I was bored, and seeing my niece everyday- since I talk to my sis and mom everyday but, I can’t talk to little Ciara! I believe it is all a part of the experience and overall, I am still having a blast! SPS has been keeping me busy and I would not trade this experience to do anything else this summer!

Saturday, 6/6
“Buca De Beppo”

Work: None- the best part of the weekend!

Leisure: All the interns were invited to join the National Council for dinner at an Italian
restaurant in DC called Buca de Beppo. This probably was the best Italian food that I have had in a long time! When we got there, before we were seated, they took us on a walk-through of the kitchen. The place is so cool. There are all types of bizarre pictures on every inch of the walls. We had a great time meeting the council as well as the newly elected president. It was a nice night.
Sunday, 6/7
“Relaxing with family and Asti”

Work: None

Leisure: Today was a day of relaxation. Early this morning around 9:00, my aunt came and picked me up from the dorm and took me to her house in Virginia about 40 minutes away. On the way we stopped at a local grocery store to pick up some breakfast items. When we got to the house we made: eggs, turkey sausage and bacon, blueberry waffles and some kind of cranberry cocktail. It was the best food I’ve had since I have been out here. After eating, my aunt worked in her study, my uncle spray painted some lawn furniture and I took on the time consuming task of washing and straightening my hair- which by the way didn’t last because of an unexpected event that you will read about soon! Next, we raced over to the next town to catch the Harley Davidson store before it closed at 4. This side of the family is BIG on motorcycles. We looked around and I picked out my dream bike! After that we went to the grocery store again and I took a nap in the car on the way back. At the house we had chips, salsa and queso, chicken salads with romaine, spinach, craisins, and the best part was the coolers my uncle made with Asti wine, strawberry white tea, whipped cream and fresh strawberries! It was so refreshing, I had at least two! We cleaned up and headed back to Fulbright! Today was such a good way to end the weekend! Thanks Auntie Cynthia!
Monday, 6/8
“Work, Work, Work”

Work: Today was a typical Monday. I came into work and began finalizing the lesson plan for the Galileo rolling activity we are going to present on Thursday at Tuckahoe Elementary school. I got in touch with Kerry on the 4th floor about helping us organize a coloring activity to give to the students. We came up with a nice layout and he was nice enough to take on the assignment. Other than that, I worked on printing out materials and organizing… a very productive day.

Leisure: At home I ate and got into bed quite early. For some reason, I have been very tired. It is especially hard around 1pm when I am missing my afternoon nap! So, this night I went to be at 9:30pm and enjoyed every moment.

Tuesday, 6/9
“Picnicking with inspiration by Émilie

Work: A full day today! This morning, Gary, Mary, Scott and I went to Home Depot and the grocery store to gather the materials we needed for the rolling activity. It was fun walking around Home Depot gathering things that look like they would be good at rolling rather than that they would be essential for a home project. There was a nice guy there that helped us out and he probably thought we were all a bunch of nerds for asking him all sorts if weird science questions. We got what we needed and got back to ACP (American Center for Physics) just in time for the employee appreciation picnic. OMG! When ACP has a meeting, a party, a picnic, or anything that may require food; they do it up! There were hamburgers, veggie burgers, hot dogs, potato salad, macaroni salad, chips, cookies, and a freezer full of ice cream bars open to everyone! There was also an open mic and a lot of the employees played instruments. One guy juggled while telling physics jokes- he was really good! Two interns performed, one intern on the 5th floor wrote a poem about his experience so far as an intern and my roommate, Raina played violin. She is really good! I had lots of fun!

Leisure: Straight after work we headed to Crystal City to meet Jack Hehn, the director of Education at AIP. He arranged for all the interns to go see a play at Arena Stage. The play is called “Legacy of Light.” It highlights Émilie du Châtelet and her journey through life as a woman physicist. The play was awesome. It was interesting to see how other people outside of physics, view physics- if that makes any sense. The playwright explained topics in physics differently and more creatively than I myself have thought of the same topics. After the play, we got to talk with the playwright and give her our views of the play and also ask her questions too. Overall, there was a good review from all the physicists!

Wednesday, 6/10
“Not rain drops, but rain balls!”

Work: Today is the day before going out to Tuckahoe Elementary school. We prepared the lesson and called in some of the other faculty members to give their input on if the activity is entertaining and accurate. We made a few adjustments to our approach but overall, everyone enjoyed our activity and thought the kids would enjoy it too! So, majority of the day, I was making all the last minute preparations. Time seems to go by so fast when you have a deadline because I found myself working past 5 on an outline to hand out to all the people helping out. It was important to have this outline because the activity had many parts and it was difficult keeping track of what came next.

Leisure: After I finished the outline, it was about 5:45pm. I figured, since I stayed late, I might as well go work out in the gym before I left. I got into the gym and did my leg and abs workout. But as I was just finishing my 3 abs rep I look out the glass door beside me and notice it getting very dark. The trees were blowing violently and rain was splashing on the windows from every direction. I continue with my 4th rep and see the lights flickering. Ok so at this point I am super freaked out. I was the only one in the gym, there were windows and glass all around me and it looked like a freakin’ horror movie outside. At that very feeling of uncomfort, I jumped up and headed for the locker room where I threw on some sweats, grabbed my bags and headed for the door. I figured I should leave now before it got any worse outside. I got to the door and realized I left my umbrella upstairs in my desk so I head to the elevators. I pressed the up button once and it didn’t react. So, I pressed it again but this time holding it a little longer. The elevator door opened and I went up. When I got to my desk, there was all kind of furniture blocking it because new carpet was being put in. I climbed over the mass of stuff and retrieved my umbrella. On my way back downstairs, the elevator was completely out so I used the stairs. When I got downstairs, I learned that the elevators just went out. I thought to myself, how I just used the elevator minutes ago and how I could have possibly gotten stuck in there. So I situate myself and head outside. As I’m walking it is raining but it was not horrible; I could handle it until I made it to the Metro about 4 blocks away. Well, about half a block away from ACP all chaos breaks out. A huge gust of wind and rain hit me from the left. Since it was raining from the side I couldn’t cover enough of my body with the umbrella to prevent me from getting soaked. The wind was so hard it pushed my umbrella closed. I look up and I can’t even see an inch in front of me. It’s all gray and WET! I put my arm out and realize that it is not raindrops hitting me, it was rain balls! It was so much rain I worried that all the papers I had in my bag for the activity tomorrow would get damaged. So, I booked it back to ACP. I get to the door and my key card didn’t work to let me in so I knock on the door for the janitors to let me in. As I walked in, in with me came a puddle of water. They all examined me like a sad story and retrieved a towel for me to dry off with! I didn’t care about being wet, I just didn’t want the papers to get ruined so I immediately grab them out of my soaked bag before the ink on them began to bleed. It was horrible. I spent the next hour sitting there until the storm passed to walk to the Metro in the fear of another storm hitting and dreading the hour commute back home in soaked clothes! I didn’t arrive back at Fulbright until 8:45pm! Let’s just say, I was elated to see a shower, dry clothes and a warm bed!... I slept like a baby!      
Thursday, 6/11
“Such intelligent 3rd graders”

Work: Tuckahoe, here we come! Today was the day that we have been preparing for, for two
weeks. When we got to the school, we were greeted by the most exciting group of 3rd graders I have ever seen. We were going to be doing the activity with two groups. The first group was the larger group and the more rowdy group. They were cheering and so excited to do science. I was so surprised at the amount of science they had experienced.  I seriously don’t remember learning about levers, pulleys and simple machines at the age of 8. After the first group we had pizza for lunch and analyzed what we could readjust for the next group- which went by much smoother since it was a smaller and more cooperative group. However, overall the students were a pleasure to work with and I believe they had a good time learning about Galileo and his inclined plane experiments. After the last group, we all headed to a family-owned ice cream shop to debrief on the activity.

Leisure: I was so excited because we made it back to Fulbright by 4:00pm. I was able to go to the post office to get a book of stamps. I had been trying to go since I have been here. So, me and my roommate went to the grocery store to get quarters to wash and I got my stamps. I also, went on a trip to Pentagon City where I met a nice group of girls. They were very nice and rode with me to Prince George’s Plaza in Maryland where I got my nails done! It was a good day!
Friday, 6/12
“Yeah, it’s my birthday! Uh huh!!!”

Work: Today was intended to just wrap up everything because all next week I am going to be at the University of Maryland for orientation to the summer camps with MRSEC. As, we were riding the shuttle to ACP, Mary looks over ate and says, “Oh, it’s Friday! It’s you birthday.” I was happy and quite surprised that she remembered. I kinda giggled and said thanks for her birthday wishes. When we got into the office, word spread quickly of my birthday. Everyone was so nice to me and I even got a Happy Birthday song sung to me from Margaret--- Caribbean Style!!!! It was awesome!

Leisure: After work, it was so nice; I didn’t want to go home. So, my roommate and I decided to go to PG Plaza to just walk around the mall. We stayed up there for about an hour and headed back. Just when we got off at Foggy Bottom I got a text message from Mary asking if I wanted to order pizza with the gang. I responded that I would go in on some pizza and that I was around the corner. When I got in Fulbright, I checked my mailbox and I got a birthday card from a good friend back a home that made me want to be there. When I got off the elevator, Mary, Laurie and Ian were in the hall giggling! I laughed and asked them “What’s going on with you guys?” They responded “nothing” and said “so you still wanna order that pizza?” I said “Sure, let me put my things down.” Mary was like, “Well, everyone is on the roof if you wanna come up we will figure everything out up there.” I was like, “Oh ok that’s great, I have never been on the roof!” The all just smiled. When I get up on the roof, it was all decorated with streamers and balloons and the whole gang is up there! They all turn around and was like “Oh great, yeah!... Happy Birthday!” When it clicked that they had done all that for me, I was speechless! I gave everyone a hug in amazement! They all gave me a card and I read them out loud. But that was not all, they had even went and got me a chocolate cake!... And they know how much I like chocolate!!! I couldn’t believe it! We lit a candle and I tried to blow it out but the wind did most of the blowing. I cut the cake and everyone got a slice. Then we decided to bring up some music and some “beverages,” to keep the night going with conversation and jokes! I am so fortunate to be living with such considerate people! The interns are my family now! Whatever they need, I got ‘em! Thanks guys so much for making my birthday so enjoyable! It meant more to me than what you may think! Love ya!       

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Friday, June 5th

“The Rollin’ Leprechaun”

Leaving home for more than 11 days is a new thing for me. Even though I visit D.C. every year, this visit is much different. I will be on my own, and figuring everything out for myself. So, I guess I can begin with my “lovely” experience at Regan National Airport. So, after a 2 hour layover in Detroit, Michigan, I finally arrived in D.C. at 3:38pm. I made my way to the baggage claim and waited anxiously for my baggage to appear on the carousel. I began to worry about my luggage after 10 suitcases passed me because I wasn’t quite sure how indirect flights worked.  So, I’m staring at the carousel and a suitcase comes from below bulging with clothing. I thought to myself; “that is so unfortunate”- someone’s clothes were all exposed from their suitcase. As the suitcase approached me, I realized that the t-shirt hanging from the bulge look awfully familiar. So, yeah… I’m the unfortunate person I felt so badly for just seconds ago. I grabbed my bad and noticed that the top handle had been ripped off and the bottom had been ripped from the seam! I was so upset. One of the airport employees must have seen how upset I was and told me that I should go to baggage services and claim the mishap. Needless to say, I waited in line for 30 minutes for them to tell me that they were not responsible for handles and rips at the seam. Okay so I wasn’t going to take that. After speaking with a supervisor, he supplied me with some tape to tape my luggage and gave me $50 off my next flight with Northwest airlines. I guess I cannot complain!

The D.C. and Maryland area is gorgeous. Everything is so “green,” well at least compared to Chicago. I had so many concerns about taking the metro back and forth to work, seeing that I have never had to depend on public transportation as my primary source of travel. I will admit, the first two nights I was not a huge fan of D.C. Not because of the area but because I had no sense of direction or where things were located. However, after orientation on Monday, a crash course on how to use the metro, and some inquiry of the best places to shop for essentials; I became quite comfortable with the lifestyle that began to unfold. So, I am still not happy that a 7-day metro pass is $40, but that I have no control over and will try not to think about how much cheaper things are at home!

My position is split between the SOCK (SPS Outreach Catalyst Kit) program at ACP (American Center for Physics) and MRSEC (Materials Research Science & Engineering Center) at UMD (University of Maryland) - So, at orientation we learned that acronyms are fluently used here in College Park. So, we have decided that I will be at SPS working on SOCK for the first two weeks and then the third week, I will begin at MRSEC. The SOCK has been very interesting; I can tell I am going to have a blast with our activities. We have currently decided to base this year’s SOCK on Galileo and his experiments with the telescope, inclined plane, and pendulum. Next week it has been arranged that we visit an elementary school to test some of the activities we are thinking of including in the SOCK. We have decided to conduct a rolling activity mimicking Galileo’s inclined plane experiment since we have yet to receive our Galileoscopes. So, the other interns working on the SOCK with me are Mary Mills and Scott Stacy- I love these guys! We have a blast working together. Sometimes I think we have too much fun because we often disturb the peace of the office with our loud laughter! But there is this one day in particular that we just had the giggles and the whole office knew! So, Thursday we all decided to meet in a small conference room to analyze our progression on the rolling activity. We were on the right track and focused for at least an hour and then all randomness breaks out! Some how, some way we were sharing funny stories and I mentioned a YouTube video I saw months ago about a leprechaun in Mobile, Alabama. Scott had heard of it and automatically began to laugh. Mary hadn’t heard of it so I began to explain what the big deal was. So, apparently someone swore they saw a leprechaun in a tree and had the whole town out around the tree to view this leprechaun. However, the mystery was that the leprechaun only could be viewed at night and for some reason it disappeared when a light was shown on it. I mean this story was being reported on by 3 news channels in Mobile and they were serious about this leprechaun. They even went as far as making an amateur sketch of the leprechaun that my 3 year old cousin could have done better! As, I am acting out the video, Scott is cracking up! Which only makes me and Mary laugh even more. So, needless to say we laughed about the leprechaun for the rest of the day and then some more on Friday! J The second floor is the best floor!           

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Erica Watkins Erica Watkins
Chicago State University (Chicago, IL)
Internship: MRSEC Summer Camp/SPS SOCK
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Final Presentation

MRSEC Summer Camp and the 2009 SOCK

I spent this summer working as a Society of Physics Student (SPS) Intern in Washington, DC. I occupied two positions that were solely based on outreach. My first position was working with SPS on their Outreach Catalyst Kit, also known as the SOCK. The SOCK is a Kit that contains physics lessons, demonstrations and activities that could be conducted at elementary, middle or high schools by the students in the Society of Physics Students Chapters across the U.S. This year’s SOCK was all about Galileo Galilei and his experiments in honor of the International Year of Astronomy.

My second position was working with the Materials Research, Science and Engineering Center (MRSEC) at the University of Maryland. MRSEC is a NSF founded center that conducts annual summer camps mainly on material science and engineering. I helped organize and construct the summer camps and lead activities as a camp counselor. My two positions this summer merge in that I was able to arrange for the MRSEC camps to act as a pilot site for the activities that we created for the SOCK. This summer was enlightening and full of fun- I hope that is portrayed through all that I have accomplished in this short period of time.       

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