Well, it's been a few months since the internship ended, and it was a really great experience. Living in Washington DC, even for only a few months, was awesome. Even riding the metro every day wasn't so bad. I loved that it's a big city where there's always something going on. I visited a museum almost every weekend, which was my goal before going there. I made some really close friends, that I hope I'll be able to keep up with through the wonders of the internet.
Working with the outreach group at APS was a blast. Those people know how to have fun, even at work. I think that my work experience was valuable, because it gave me a glimpse of my future will (hopefully) be like. I'm a month into my Science Communication grad program, so I hope to do the kind of work I did this summer for a living. This has been one of the funnest jobs I've had. The activities I made combined with the outreach events we did really taught me about communication physics to kids, which is something I'll be able to take to my future jobs.
Despite the ridiculous soul-melting weather, I really enjoyed my time in DC working with APS and SPS.
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This week has gone by so fast. This weekend most of us went to Ocean City for what we thought would be a fun beach trip. Besides all the disasters, it was a fun trip. I really enjoyed playing in the water, reading a book on the beach, and hanging out with everyone. I did not enjoy the three hour drive, plus four additional hours of traffic (that’s seven hours, people) in a car with no air conditioning. I did not enjoy the slight, yet still painful, sunburn all over my body. I also did not enjoy Carl’s car breaking down and having to stay an extra night. But at least now I have a funny story to tell. I also found out on Monday that my student visa application got accepted, so now I don’t have to stress about that anymore.
I don’t think I did anything particularly interesting this week. On Tuesday Raina and I went to the Science Club for a drink, and to watch one of the guys from my floor at APS do a “Physics 101” demo show. I’ve mostly been working on my final presentation and my report from the AAPT meeting. I’ve discovered that it’s a huge pain to get videos in a PowerPoint presentation, and I practiced today, but I will probably still run into issues when giving my presentation for real.
I don’t have any particular plans for this weekend, besides starting to pack. I will probably hit up some of the museums again to get gifts for my family and to see some stuff I missed the first time around. There’s also dinner at Gary’s house on Saturday, because there’s supposed to be “something vaguely Cajun” and I love Cajun food.
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Most of this past week I have been in Portland, OR for the AAPT summer meeting. I was in Portland in March for spring break, and I was super excited to go again, because it is an awesome city. Foha and I got up before the sun in order to catch a taxi for our 7 AM flight. We ended up being earlier than necessary, but I’d rather be early than be late and miss our flight (which was a piece of advice I should have kept in mind). The flight was fairly uneventful. The plane had screens in the back of all the seats, though, which was awesome. There was free satellite TV and you could also play trivia against the other people on the plane. I played a few games towards the end, and I even won a few of them.
The actual meeting was very interesting, with lots of cool sessions. I thought the most interesting one was Tracy’s session on social media, because I already use Facebook and Twitter every day, and read tons of blogs. Our poster session on Sunday night went really well. Lots of people asked me about my poster, and the coupled pendulum activity I brought was a hit that everyone wanted to play with.
Wednesday morning was a disaster. Shane was smart and left early, but the rest of us left the hotel a few minutes later than we wanted, so we missed the train to the airport by a few minutes and had to wait for the next one, so we missed our check-in time for our flight by only a few minutes. The lady at the desk gave us stand-by tickets for a flight a few hours later, and if we didn’t get on that flight we would have had to wait until the next day. Luckily, we got on that flight, and everything was good.
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Last Friday we went to baseball game. Nationals vs. the SF Giants. I was torn for who to root for, since the Nationals are the local team, but I grew up rooting for the Giants. In the end I didn’t really root for anyone, and just watched the game. In any case, the Nationals thoroughly trounced the Giants. While the game was fun, the metro ride there and back was not. Everything was so crowded. It was insane. And on the way back to our dorm there was some sort of malfunction that caused our train to be stuck for about 20 minutes. Once we finally got out at Foggy Bottom we discovered that it was absolutely pouring, so that was a lot of fun to walk those few blocks.
On Saturday, Foha, Raina, and Amy woke up early to get tickets to go up to the top of the Washington Monument for everyone. There was still some water falling from the sky, but nowhere near as bad as the night before. My overall impression of the Washington Monument: eh. It was cool to see the whole city from high up, but I would not consider it a must-see. After that several of us went to Arlington Cemetery. It was really powerful because there are so many graves, and some of them are even from this year. I also learned a lot about Robert E. Lee that I did not know, like that he married George Washington’s step-grand-daughter.
All week I have been working on my poster for the AAPT meeting this weekend. I’ve been tweaking the text, and working with Davina from the art department to make it look pretty. I’ve also been tweaking some of my activities and sketches a little bit, like making my moment of inertia cardboard tubes use pennies instead of marbles, since pennies are more common and much more compact. Later today some of us are going with Jasdeep, Kendra, and Gary to do an outreach event. I love these types of events, and it will be a lot of fun.
I’m also super excited about going to the AAPT Meeting in Portland this weekend. I get to present my poster and I’m bringing some of my activities to demonstrate as well. Some of the sessions will also be cool, since there is a about the feasibility of spinning space stations, a la 2001: A Space Odyssey, and about Pirates of the Caribbean. Portland is a great city, and I was there in March. I probably won’t do a lot of the tourist stuff again, but I am already pretty familiar with the downtown area.
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The fourth of July weekend was a lot of fun. Saturday Foha, Raina, Raina’s boyfriend, and I went to the National Geographic museum. It was disappointing because there were only two exhibits: inventions for use in third world countries, and Leonardo da Vinci. Both exhibits were actually pretty interesting, especially the da Vinci exhibit. And Sunday the fourth was a lot of fun. We went to the Folklife Festival in the afternoon, and I learned how tequila gets made. Then we went to the Hirshorn for about an hour to look at some modern art. A lot of the art was really cool and interesting, but some was just a canvas painted a solid color, mostly blue. There was also a pitch black room that actually has a soft red glow once your eyes adjust.
After the museum closed, a couple of us hung out on the grass by the Washington Monument to look at the clouds and take a nap before the fireworks started. When everyone else arrived we played Frisbee until it got too dark. The fireworks were pretty awesome, even though the show was shorter than I was expecting. Though it was made even more awesome because we were all watching through diffraction glasses. I even got a few pictures through the glasses, and Carl got a picture of us all wearing them.
This week I have been working on my poster for the upcoming AAPT meeting, and some sketches of the extension activities I’ve made. Doing the sketches is kind of hard, because I am not very good at drawing. Especially hands. Hands are hard to draw.
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This hasn't been an extremely exciting week. I spent most of the week rewriting an article about laser light shows. I was supposed to bring it down to a fifth grade level, which was a little difficult, since it was originally written at a physics degree level. I've also been working on my poster for the AAPT meeting in Portland coming up in a few weeks.
On Thursday we all went to the Dyllas' party, which was a lot of fun. Their yard is beautiful, and I got to meet a lot of the other people at ACP, including a past intern from the same small town in California as my mom. And on Friday we went on the tour of NIST where Zack and Amy work. That was really cool, especially seeing the clean room. Though I think the word “multidisciplinary” was thrown around more than any other word, which is also cool. I like that pursuing a physics degree doesn't limit you to purely physics-related things.
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I just got done with the egg drop that I helped organize. It was a blast. I had two designs in the running, and I won! (I shall not comment on the fact that I wrote the rules, picked out the prizes, and won the competition.) My winning design was a pyramid made of straws, holding up a basket made of rubber bands, all attached to a plastic bag for a parachute. I also made a giant propeller, and the egg fell out so it broke. But when I taped the egg inside, it survived the drop from the fifth floor. Mike got second place, with a plastic cup attached to some toy helicopter rotors. Alan got the most creative prize, because he put his egg into a container of egg drop soup and threw it off the second floor balcony. Unfortunately, his egg did not survive. And Mike’s “helium rock” did surprisingly well, considering it’s a rock with the word “helium” written on it.
What did I do this week besides work on the egg drop? Well, on Wednesday I went with a friend from high school to see the Reduced Shakespeare Company do Completely Hollywood, which was hilarious. A bunch of us watched the new episodes of Futurama on Thursday. On Sunday I went to the American History Museum, which has probably been my least favorite museum so far. And I discovered that the Kennedy Center has free performances every day, so I will incorporate that into the rest of my time here in DC.
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Another great week has passed. Saturday we went to the DuPont circle area to find a chill place to watch the US vs. England soccer game. It was ridiculous. There were so many people everywhere. And we didn't even start finding a place to watch the game until after it started, so we missed all the scoring. I still think it's funny that, even though it was a 1-1 tie, it's considered a win for the US and a loss for England. Right after the game we went to the gay pride parade, which was both boring and interesting. The beginning was just of bunch of people advertising for politicians, and throwing beads and candy into the crowd. But it did get good, like the group of cowboys dancing to Poker Face.
For PhysicsQuest I have still been working on making some activities. I now have activities demonstrating pendulum motion and coupled pendulums, center of mass, and moment of inertia, among others. It has been a little challenging to think of activities that clearly demonstrate physics concepts, but that can be made from easily found materials. I have seven or eight activities written up, and now I am starting to run out of ideas. However, I love working at APS, since some of the conversations we have are absolutely awesome. Like about setting things on fire with lasers, or the World Cup starting World War III.
Today (Friday) a bunch of us went with the SOCK people, Jasdeep and Pat, to a high school and elementary school to do some Laser Fest related outreach. I did a lot of this type of outreach back in Flagstaff, and it was great to get into here. Working with the little kids was really fun, because it was in small enough groups that we got to really interact with them, and I think a lot of them really got a lot out of our presentations.
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This week wasn’t quite as exciting as last week. On Saturday a bunch of us went to the Natural History Museum, which was really cool. The Hope Diamond was slightly less impressive than I was expecting. On Sunday we went to see Sophisticated Ladies with the SPS executive committee. We got food at Ben’s Chili Bowl, which was delicious, and interesting because Obama has eaten there. The play was also really fun. I love music and dancing, and the play was full of that.
I built a few more demos for PhysicsQuest, though one of them isn’t working quite like I expected, so I’ll have to spend some more time on that. I’m really enjoying my job so far, because it’s arts & crafts meets writing meets physics, and those are all things I enjoy. I think I’ve made more things out of cardboard the past two weeks than in the past ten years.
And on Tuesday I finally found a place to go swing dancing. Amy went with me, and I had a blast. The place I found is in this gorgeous old mansion, and it has a balcony, and a fireplace (not lit, because it was already hot enough), and wonderful wood floors for dancing. Also this week, Amy, Foha, Zack and I all played Settlers of Catan, which is one of the greatest board games in existence. This weekend I have a bunch of plans. Tonight we are going to hit a bunch of monuments, including the Einstein statue. Saturday some of us are going to watch the US vs. England World Cup game, and go to the gay pride parade. Sunday I’ll probably go to either the Spy Museum or the National gallery of Art.
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So far, I am having an awesome time in DC. My flight here on Saturday left ridiculously early (6:10 AM), but now I am adjusted to the new time zone. Sunday was fun, since Raina, Eric (the science writing intern, who, coincidentally, just graduated with me from Northern Arizona University), and I went to the Air and Space Museum. We got to see the original Spirit of St. Louis and Space Ship One, which is always cool. The rest of the weekend I spent getting settled and used to the city.
My job at PhysicsQuest is already a lot of fun. My first assignment is to think of extension activities related to force and motion. I have already built a working prototype of a Newton’s Cradle out of marbles, wire, and a cardboard box. I spent almost the entirety of Thursday finding methods and materials that won’t work, and discovered that thread does not like to cooperate with Styrofoam or with cardboard, and that life is probably easier with a hot glue gun. I am also helping to organize an egg drop, and will use that information to write up another extension activity.
Becky is going to be in Europe for the next two weeks, so she gave me some assignments that should keep me busy. I am worried about two things: 1) Not getting enough done before she comes back, and 2) Finishing it all and having nothing to do. Those things might seem contradictory, but in any case, scenario 2 probably won’t happen, and I’m sure I’ll have enough work to last two weeks.
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