Programs & Awards  
2011 SPS National Interns
2011 Interns | Past Interns | About the Program

  • Introduction
  • Online Journal
  • Presentation
Name Amanda Palchak
University of Southern Mississippi
Internship: SPS SOCK/AIP Career Pathways Project
Follow SPS on: Twitter Facebook YouTube Photobucket The Nucleus Email and Share
Greeting

I am currently a senior at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, MS.  I will be graduating in just a few short weeks with a degree in physics and a minor in mathematics.  Over the past year I have discovered that I really enjoy learning about atomic physics, which is fortunate, because that is the field in which I do my research and will continue to do in graduate school.  My favorite thing to do with SPS is outreach, so I am very much looking forward to working on the SOCKs this summer.  I have never been to Washington D.C.  My excitement of taking part in this internship and living in D.C. is through the roof.  After this summer I plan to return to the University of Southern Mississippi to earn a master’s degree in physics.  I was just elected president of my SPS Chapter for the next academic year, and I hope to take the things I learn this summer back to Mississippi and introduce them to my SPS chapter.

I spend my spare time riding my bicycle, going swimming, taking road trips, and dancing.  Over this semester I made a habit of attending the Zumba class on my school’s campus, and it was so much fun.   Along with dancing, I enjoy going to concerts.  I have heard that D.C. has great concerts, so I am looking forward to possibly seeing some bigger bands this summer that I would not necessary have the opportunity to see in Hattiesburg.  Not only do I love going to concerts, but I love to sing karaoke with my friends.  I am a people person, and I tend to get along very well with others.  I cannot wait to meet all of the interns and spend the summer in Washington D.C. working for such a great organization.

~Amanda

Name Amanda Palchak
University of Southern Mississippi
Internship: SPS SOCK/AIP Career Network
Follow SPS on: Twitter Facebook YouTube Photobucket The Nucleus Email and Share
Review of the Summer Friday, July 22nd Friday, July 1st Friday, June 10th
Friday, August 5th Friday, July 15th Friday, June 24th Friday, June 3rd
Friday, July 29th Friday, July 8th Friday, June 17th


Review of the Summer

Although the SPS Internship ended less than two weeks ago, it seems like a distant memory. This feeling hasn’t stopped me from thinking about the internship and all of the amazing people I met along the way every day. On the last day, we all sat down for a closing breakfast, and sharing such great memories from the summer with everyone was a delightful way to end the internship. It is strange not waking up every morning and seeing such awesome people right down the hall from me.

The SPS Internship was the best experience I could have possibly had at this time in my life. It has helped me grow in so many ways! I have noticed that a large portion of this growth has changed how I think about my future. The idea of finding a job one day and deciding what I wanted to do for a career was rather terrifying, but now I take this unknown future waiting for me as a very exciting thing. The internship has also opened my eyes to other fields of science I would like to pursue. Working on the SOCK and AIP Career Pathways were two of the most gratifying experiences I have ever had. I would sincerely like to thank the Society of Physics Students for choosing me for these two projects. I found them very appropriate and relevant to my life. I truly feel lucky to have experienced everything I did this summer all the way from meeting nine other amazing interns to touring places like NSF, the Capitol, and NIST.

I can’t wait to see my fellow interns and wonderful mentors again the future!

Friday, August 5th

It feels strange to be writing my journal from Mississippi. It also feels strange that I’m not at work right now.

The last week of work was extremely hectic while dealing with both of my projects. My week began by compiling a number of resource sheets for Career Pathways. It was important that I finish for our last meeting together, which happened to be that afternoon. I made resource sheets on STEM Career Information, job postings, resumes, interviews, and networking. I felt like I accomplished a lot this second half of the summer, while also trying to continue working on the SOCK with Erin. Because it was my last meeting, Kendra, Tom, Roman, and I went to Franklins for lunch. I really enjoyed the conversation as well as the chicken pot pie. Franklin’s has a neat, little store in it with toys, collectibles, candy, and the like. I could have stayed in there for hours looking at everything, but I managed to find a little treat for my apartment in the time that we had. I really value everything that I have learned from AIP Career Pathways, and I admire everyone on the time. It was nice to be able to work on this project and see great results come out of it. I sent out the pages I had worked on, waiting for more edits to be continued on Tuesday. Later that afternoon I devoted the rest of my time working on the SOCK. Anish and Mahmuda did a great job at helping us out, and they were able to get a lot of the physical SOCKs put together. I am really appreciative of their help, and I’m sure that Erin is, too. THANKS FOR BEING SO NICE, GUYS!

Tuesday was another mixture of working on the SOCK and Career Pathways. I began my day working on the edits that Kendra sent me, and was able to produce another resource page on interview preparation. I met with Roman later that afternoon to discuss the sheets I had put together, and I really appreciated all of his feedback. I can’t wait to see everyone again at the Industrial Physics Forum in Nashville in October. I also can’t wait to attend that meeting and talk to all kinds of employers about what they look for when hiring people with bachelor’s degrees in physics. It’s also pretty convenient that Nashville is my favorite city. I ended up staying late at work on Tuesday to get a few more things done. After work I met some friends from home in Dupont Circle for a while. It was nice to see some familiar faces even though I knew it would be very soon that I would be seeing familiar faces all the time. Even though I knew that it was my last day of work, I still felt like there was so much to do and that I didn’t want to leave. I think the products that I produced this summer I did to the best of my ability with an open mind, and that’s all you can really ask for. I am proud of myself. I also learned to work with others and keep my cool whenever I am stressed. I think that is a very important part of being professional. All you can do is smile and do the best you can.

Wednesday morning was very bittersweet. Not only was it the closing breakfast, but we would be saying goodbye to Heather and Erin. They were leaving later that afternoon. The breakfast was great, and it was great to reflect on all of the things that happened this summer. I found it interesting to hear about what tours people liked this summer. All of our opinions were very different, and everyone got something out of each tour. I think that’s great. We shared some funny stories over a tasty breakfast, filled out some surveys, wrote thank you cards, and got some surprise gifts from Kendra and Doug. After the breakfast and cleaning up our work areas, we went home on the metro one last time. I said bye to Heather at work and it was sad. I said bye to Erin later that afternoon, too. I hope they have a good rest of the summer. The rest of us went to Clydes that night to get that amazing chicken dish that we didn’t discover conveniently until the end of the summer. I finished packing and went to bed early.

Thursday morning was sad. I finished packing and said goodbye to everyone. Fidele and Binayak helped me with my luggage downstairs to get ready for my cab. We exchanged some hugs, and Anish and I got into the cab. Anish and I parted at the airport, which was very sad for me. He was like my brother, and I hope to see him again soon. I will truly miss everyone. My first flight was delayed, and the time I had to get to my connecting flight was very limited, so I raced to get to my connecting flight in Charlotte. The anticipation was killing me the closer and closer I got to Mississippi. I couldn’t wait to see my family. I was greeted in Gulfport by my mom and sister. It felt so good to see my family. I went home to greet my dad, and I ate spaghetti. Overall, it was a great day.

I want to thank everyone that I worked with this summer once again for being so great. I also want to thank anyone who gave me advice and great conversation. These conversations meant a lot. This was the best summer I’ve ever had.

Friday, July 29th

[Insert comment about how this was your last full week of work and how you just can’t believe it’s possible.]

It just occurred to me that today is Friday, which for most people, that would be exciting news. For me, however, the amount of work that needs to be done by next Tuesday (our last day of work), is hanging over my head causing the idea of Friday to be a bad, scary thing. Okay, it’s not that scary. I am still looking forward to the weekend. But wait—it’s our last weekend here in D.C. Now I am thinking about all of the things on my weekend to-do list and how many are still left unchecked. Even ten weeks in Washington, D.C. is not enough time to see the whole city.

This has definitely been another busy week here at ACP. We have been gathering all of our materials together for the SOCK as well as finalizing lessons and constructing different tools we need for each activity. Monday began with by having a meeting with Gary about our nuclear fission balloons. We tried a few different ways to do that activity and researched a lot about the daughters of nuclear fission. We finally decided to use marbles for our balloon, and by that time, we needed to go shopping. There was a lot that we needed to buy this week including more foam, wooden and bouncy balls, as well as balloons. Our luck at the stores was not as good as we had hoped for, but we did find the majority of the things that we needed. When we returned from our shopping trip, I decided to change gears and work on more stuff for Career Pathways in preparation for my Wednesday meeting. On Monday night I went for pizza in Georgetown with my boyfriend to celebrate his birthday. I saw a rat that was bigger than a football.

Tuesday was spent focusing on Career Pathways. I set up a meeting with Justin Stewart to get information on the AIP Career Network, and I found this meeting to be very helpful. It was interesting to see what the process would be for an employer seeking resumes and job applicants on the career network database. I also learned that “passive job searching” is not the most effective way to find a job. That makes sense because job searching can be a very time consuming challenge. That is why I want to make it easier on undergraduate physics majors so that the job searching process will not be so anxiety-inducing.

Wednesday morning I had my second-to-last meeting with the AIP Career Pathways team. I really enjoy working with all of them, and I hope to get as much done for them as possible before I leave. We made a list of priorities to complete by the next meeting, which is going to be on Monday, and I have a large portion of it completed. I am working on my last of the top priorities today, and I see myself being able to complete everything by the lunch meeting on Monday. If there are changes that need to be made, at least I will have Tuesday to work on them as well. Ideally. I still have a large portion of the SOCK to complete, too.

Thursday was spent looking at and compiling more resources for Career Pathways during the day, and I finally was able to figure out which format I would like to use on my resources sheets. Later in the afternoon was spent working on stuff for the SOCK. I find it hard to manage my time between the two projects because I care about both a great deal and do not want to neglect either of them. (Wow, it sounds like I am speaking about non-existent children.) Erin and I stayed late at work on Thursday to get a lot of time consuming jobs out of the way that don’t require much thought (a.k.a. putting lots of ping pong balls and fly paper in individual bags). After putting in time working late, Erin, Moriel, and I were surprised with reward barbeque and watermelon, which was left over from the Center for History of Physics meeting going on here at ACP. Staying late at work is not so bad if barbeque and watermelon are involved. Erin taught us a few German phrases and I requested that she say a few extra things in German such as, “The man is drinking milk. It tastes good.” This was for no particular reason.

I cannot believe this is our last weekend here in D.C. We better make it count. As far as I know, we plan on cooking dinner together on Saturday and going canoeing on the Potomac on Sunday. I haven’t been canoeing since I was in tenth grade, so Erin is going to be my canoe partner and show me the ropes. The last river I went canoeing on was called the “Wolf River,” and I went for ten miles. That river is a narrow river and it’s a lot easier to tip over with the low hanging trees and shallow water. I am interested to see what it will be like to canoe on such a big river. I am sure once I get out there I will really appreciate the view and the great bonding experience I will have with the rest of the interns. Oh heck, I think it’s about time I start saying “my friends.”

I would now like to leave you with a phrase I learned this week:

“Der Mann trinkt Milch. Sie schmeckt gut.”


Auf Wiedersehen!

Friday, July 22nd

This is my eighth journal entry. That means I have been here for eight weeks. WAIT! I HAVE BEEN HERE FOR EIGHT WEEKS?!

Week 8 was also the most inconsistent week ever. The only thing I consistently did was eat Cheerios for breakfast. This week was filled with deadlines. DEADLINES, DEADLINES, DEADLINES. Did I mention deadlines? This week was presentation week, and I got to do two presentations, which turned out to be amazingly fun. The journey of getting to that point, however, was not easy.

I began working on my AIP Career Pathways presentation on Monday morning, which carried on until lunch time. After lunch, the theme of the day changed drastically into “OPERATION MOUSETRAP.” With the help of Courtney, Anish, Fidele, Mahmuda, Moriel, and Elizabeth, Erin and I were able to finally film the mousetrap-fission demo. We had a total of 270 mousetraps and 270 ping pong balls, and the setting up process took about an hour and a half. During the set-up process, Erin had a time-lapse setting going on her camera to add to the final video. Jack, Gary, and Kendra came down for the big reveal, which lasted about five seconds. Even though the amount of time was so short, days to plan and hours of setting up was totally worth it. We are hoping that this video as a learning supplement for the applications of the nucleus will give our SOCK the edge that it needs. After Operation Mousetrap, I went back to working on my presentation, hoping to have a rough draft copy for my Career Pathways meeting the following morning. On Monday night, Erin, Heather, and I went for half price pizza at Froggy Bottom, and it was fun to break up the monotony of going home every day after work. We enjoyed our pizza and talked about how nervous we were about our presentations.

On Tuesday morning I went to my weekly AIP Career Pathways meeting with Tom, Kendra, and Roman. The meeting was mostly on things I had learned while talking to Donna Jones in HR, as well as the rough draft of my power point presentation. I got great feedback from everyone on the team, and I was focused on the changes that I needed to make as well as slides that I needed to add. I finished the first draft of my presentation on Tuesday, in order to do my first practice presentation in front of Kendra, Gary, and the other interns who work at ACP on Wednesday.

Wednesday morning began with presentation practice. It was actually my first time to do a run through of my presentation, and I have to admit, it went pretty well. I felt confident speaking in front of everyone, and I have my advisor, Dr. Alina Gearba, from USM to thank for that. My favorite section of my presentation was the “Mythbusters: AIP Career Pathways Edition.” In these sections, which were randomly placed throughout my presentation, I asked the audience to vote on questions, which answers address many common misconceptions people have about the type of STEM careers you can get with a bachelor’s degree in physics. I also provoked the audience with questions about resumes, which can often be a controversial subject. I filled the rest of the day with presentation edits and SOCK stuff. Later that day, I had a special visitor come into town. My boyfriend came to visit me on the perfect week that included: a DC United soccer game (we lost, of course), Anish’s Cosmic Café with Dr. Gates, our final presentations, and Gary’s barbeque.

Thursday was an exciting day at work because we were all looking forward to Anish’s Cosmic Café. After scrambling to set up our activities and check out formatting issues in the conference room for final presentations, Erin and I left work slightly early to get the science café at RFD in time. A dear friend from high school who has been living in DC for a few years now was able to join us at the Science Café, and that made the night even better. Dr. Gates was an extraordinary speaker, and the entire audience was engaged throughout the entire evening. At the end of the discussion, Dr. Gates concluded with some pop quiz questions and some giveaways for right answers. I seemed to be at the winning table. Out of the seven of us sitting at the table, five of us won prizes, including me! I won a universe plushy, which was exactly what I wanted. After the science café, I practiced my presentation by saying what my slides were from memory forwards and backwards. I don’t know if the backwards part was helpful, but I felt confident about knowing the order of my points of discussion.

Friday morning we left the dorm bright and early to head to ACP to prepare for our presentations. I would like to thank Kendra and Elizabeth for organizing the event. The process flowed very smoothly, and I only felt slightly nervous before giving my talks. During the Career Pathways presentation, the majority of the audience solved my Mythbusters, but I did have a few people that I surprised with information. During the question/answer session, Elizabeth threw me an unintended curve ball, and even though I blanked out, I was able to answer her question. Regardless, I got the audience laughing, and that felt really good. At least I can think fast on my feet! I just want to recognize all of the interns for doing such a fantastic job with their presentations. I really enjoyed seeing what everyone did this summer, and I appreciated how all of ours were rather different. I also would like to thank everyone who attended the event and showed their support for us.

Next week begins our last full week at work, and it is bittersweet. I’m not going to think about it right now.

Now I will attempt to stay cool in the northeastern heat wave. Yeah, not going to happen.

Friday, July 15th

And now…….IT’S CRUNCH TIME!
Tuesday of this week marks three weeks left of full workdays. I refuse to believe it.

I realized that there is something I did not mention in my last journal. At our tour of NIST on Friday of last week, we entered a building that was below ground (the whole building), and to get in the building, you had to take an elevator that opened up horizontally while beeping very loud at the same time. Now I don’t know about any of you readers, but I am a huge Lost fan. For those of you who watch Lost: I definitely felt like I was entering a Dharma Initiative building. It’s a good thing that we did not come across people drilling into a large pocket of energy or find someone repetitively entering 4-8-15-16-23-42 into a computer. Then we would have run into some serious problems.

On Monday, my work day was filled with resume edits and searching for career resources. My goal was to finish compiling a sheet of useful websites for a person with a bachelor of physics searching for a career. I was very pleased with the amount of useful information provided by SPS, APS, and Physics Today Jobs, just to name a few. Tom and I also booked an appointment with Donna Jones in Human Resources to review my resume. It is incredible how different a resume can be from someone else’s, so Tom and I found it useful for me to create a list of questions I have about resumes such as format, what to include, and what not to include. Thank you for your help, Donna!

Tuesday was my weekly meeting with the AIP Career Pathways team, where I presented everything that I had worked on the previous week. Everyone seemed pleased with my resource page and I was happy to hear all of their feedback. Tuesday can be considered monumental for me for one reason—I learned that it is acceptable to have a resume that is more than one page long. For my entire life, I have been told that a resume should not be more than one page, and for the sake of length, I had to cut out many honors/awards I have received throughout college. Meeting with Donna opened my eyes to the fact that these things are important to include on a resume, and if it goes over one page—so what! I really enjoyed my meeting with her, and I learned a lot of useful and interesting information. I went to Macys for the first time on Tuesday afternoon. It was 5 stories, and I was so overwhelmed I didn't want to look around or buy anything!

Wednesday was spent formatting lesson plans for the SOCK and making the final plans for the mousetrap demo. Erin put together a budget spreadsheet, and I am so grateful. Thinking about the budget makes me nervous and bores me all at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, though, it’s important! We also looked at very exciting things like box sizes. We looked through a catalog with different sized boxes. Who knew that there were so many different kinds of cardboard boxes? I also submitted my resume on the SPS Job Site. That was exciting.

Today (Thursday) has been a good day. We finally decided on what color we want the SOCK Manuals to be, and we decided on a box size. I have been reading about interviews today, which is my next focus for Career Pathways. Interviews are so important, so it would be of value for students to know good interviewing tips. The interview for a job could make or break you. We went to lunch at Noodles and Company with Gary and Susan. At lunch Fidele told me that Rwanda does not have chocolate chip cookies, and that he would stay in America for them. I know a few chocolate chip cookie lovers who would say the same thing. We are going to visit NSF tomorrow, so as a result, I am writing my journal today. Erin and I are doing some spray painting this afternoon for a demo that will have a big reveal.

Stay tuned!

Friday, July 8th

Fourth of July weekend here in Washington D.C. could not have been more fun. My friend, Melanie, from college came to visit me, along with her sister, and we had an absolute blast. On Saturday, we attended the DC United versus Philadelphia United soccer game. The match was relatively slow in the beginning, but the excitement definitely picked up throughout the game. For a while, I really thought DC United was going to win the game, but in the few short minutes before time was up, Philadelphia scored a goal, causing a tie between the two teams. I really enjoy watching soccer, but the fact that a game can end in a tie bugs me. Overall, it was a good experience, and I got a DC United t-shirt as a souvenir.

On Sunday, my friends and I went to Georgetown (feels like I am always there). After an afternoon full of shopping and relaxing by the Potomac, we went grocery shopping to make a picnic for the dress rehearsal of the 4th of July Concert at the Capitol. I decided to cook yellow and red chicken curry (big surprise). Coincidentally, as soon as we left the dorm to head to the concert, a big, fat raindrop hit my forehead. I decided to dismiss it until we got to our destination where we were faced with a complete downpour. Luckily, we didn’t exit the metro and get soaked. Erin’s boyfriend, Paul, decided to check out the weather, and he returned to the metro soaking wet. People were asked to leave the dress rehearsal because of the dangerous weather, so Sunday night turned out to be relatively uneventful. We went to grab some Turkish food for dinner and took a nice walk after the air was cooled off by the rain.

Monday was the 4th of July, and what better way to celebrate a holiday than sleeping late and eating curry for breakfast? As soon as my friend woke up, she was on a mission to find cupcakes. What better way to top of curry for breakfast than with cupcakes for dessert? We walked to Dupont Circle to Hello Cupcake. I tried the banana cupcake, and I must say, it was definitely a favorite of mine. We spent most of the day walking around different parts of town, and then stopped at a new favorite among the interns: La Tasca. La Tasca is a Spanish tapas restaurant in Chinatown that serves tiny plates of really good food, all for about six to ten dollars each. The idea is to order a few plates, and possibly share. We ordered so many tapas that I probably could not even count them right now. Among the smorgasbord of Spanish food, my favorite was the sliced tomatoes topped with goat cheese and pesto. Muy delicioso! Next time I would like to try the dates wrapped in bacon. As I like to say, “Yumtown, USA.” After eating tapas, we picked up my quilt and headed to the Lincoln Memorial to meet everyone else. The rest of the interns picked out a great spot, and even though the area was crowded, there was plenty of room for my blanket. We sat for about two hours before the fireworks started, but I enjoyed relaxing on my quilt and chatting with everyone in the meantime. The fireworks were absolutely breathtaking, and they played a great mash-up to go along with the show. “American Girl” by Tom Petty is one of my favorite songs, and when that song came on during the fireworks, it was definitely a best case scenario situation. I was wondering why they did not play “Born in the U.S.A.” by Bruce Springsteen (The Boss), and it turns out that he is a musician commonly mistaken for singing patriotic songs. If you read the lyrics to that song, it’s pretty easy to tell why it would not be played on the 4th of July. I still love The Boss, but I suppose there is a time and a place for him.

Tuesday was the first day of our work week, and I promptly started the AIP Career Pathways project that morning. I am very excited to be part of this team, and I look forward to seeing what will come from our work. I find this time in my life to be very appropriate for the position, seeing as I just graduated from college with my bachelor’s in physics, and had I not decided to go to graduate school, I would be trying to find a career for myself right now. I feel as though the questions I have represent a large group of people in my position, and I am feeling very enthusiastic about finding answers. I also think I hit the jackpot with mentors this summer. Kendra and Gary have been great, and now I also get to work with Tom! Luckily, I still get to work on the SOCK, but now I just need to manage my time in order to do both projects. It’s a good thing that I absolutely love what I am working on.

I spent Wednesday and Thursday researching jobs and the resources that are provided in aiding job searching for Physics Bachelors. I think that the organizations here at the ACP provide excellent resources for graduates, and when the time comes for me, I will most definitely be taking advantage of these great materials. I now have an account through the SPS and APS job sites, and as soon as my resume is done revising, I will be submitting it online. I think this project is providing me with great learning experiences. On Thursday, I met with Crystal from APS to talk more about careers. I really enjoyed my conversation with her on the different ways to prepare for a career search with a bachelor’s in physics. I have found that by searching all of these useful resources, the idea of finding a career seems much less intimidating.

Today we took a tour of NIST, provided by Heather and Binayak. We began by taking a tour of the different displays of historical standards, which was very interesting. Binayak did a great job in explaining the different displays, and everyone enjoyed it. We then took a tour of the NIST Library, and I soaked up all of the information we were given. I even saw a display of some of the equipment used in the research I am doing back at my university. After visiting the library, we went outside to see a real life Newtonian Apple Tree. The tree was grown from a piece taken from an original apple tree on Sir Isaac Newton’s property. Apparently the apples don’t taste that great, but it was awesome to see. We filled the rest of the day with lab tours and watching the last space shuttle take off. How many people can say they watched the last shuttle take off at NIST? This summer is filled with some truly unforgettable moments. As of now, there are no definite plans for the weekend besides seeing a movie and getting crepes. Whatever we do, I’m sure it will be a blast. We interns know how to make the most of our weekends here together in Washington, D.C.

Now I would like to leave you with a link to a video where Jim Carey and Conan O’Brien discuss quantum physics. Enjoy!
http://www.boreme.com/posting.php?id=10036

Until next time!

Friday, July 1st

This week was extremely eventful at work. Erin and I continued working diligently on the SOCK. Our mousetraps came in for our chain reaction demo, and I have no doubt that this demo will be very exciting. There is only one problem—mousetraps are terrifying! This week was my first time to ever set a mousetrap, and let’s just say that my first try did not go as smoothly as I would have liked. I think the best thing I can do is work with the mousetraps repeatedly until I am no longer afraid.
On Wednesday the interns at ACP were asked to attend a lunch/focus group on gradschoolshopper.com. For those of you who are beginning your junior or senior year in college and are interested in going to graduate school, I would not hesitate to visit this website. Even though I have already chosen which graduate school I will be attending, I still found the website very helpful. The focus group was interesting, and everyone had some great input and ideas. DO IT! Go to gradschoolshopper.com!
Thursday was the ACP tour lead by the AIP and APS interns, which was for the interns who work at NIST and Capitol Hill. Even though I work in this building, I found many things I heard on the tour to be very interesting and helpful. Kendra arranged for us to be given a tour of the Niels Bohr Library and Archives, and I was impressed with all of the materials they have to offer. It was also interesting to learn about the media and government relations departments. After the tour at ACP, we went to the University of Maryland to take the Physics IQ Test given by Dr. Berg. I had so much fun at this event. Dr. Berg took simple ideas that you would learn in an introductory physics course with a slight spin on it, and it was our job to predict the outcomes of certain scenarios. Apparently about a third of physics professors actually pass the IQ test, so I did not feel as bad having a degree in physics and not getting all the questions right. That’s not to say that I did not feel awesome when I did answer correctly. After the Physics IQ Test, we attended a barbeque at Dr. Fred Dylla’s house. I had a great time, and everyone I met was very nice. I also enjoyed seeing some familiar faces at the barbeque. For the first time, all of the interns were at an event together, so we made sure to document it. The food was great, and the Dyllas were very hospitable. Thank you for having us!
Friday felt very much like a field trip. During the morning, we met with Courtney and Cabot at Capitol Hill to tour their worksites. It was nice to get to see what their offices look like. Now when they talk about work I will be able to picture where they are and what they are doing. For the Capitol tour, I chose to be in Courtney’s group because Cabot had given us a tour earlier that morning. Cabot and Courtney did a great job, and made sure to include fun and interesting facts for us throughout our tour. The Capitol building is beautiful, and I enjoyed myself very much. My friend from home and her sister are joining me this weekend in Washington D.C. to celebrate the 4th of July and I couldn’t be more excited!

Friday, June 24th

(Insert comment about how surprising it is to be writing your fourth journal.)

But seriously. I can’t believe it is Friday again.

Monday was a fun day. I researched a lot of material about nuclear power and fission. We worked till about 3 in the afternoon, and then joined Jack and Tom at the Einstein Fellows poster session at the Hill. I really enjoyed the posters that I had time to see, and I met a lot of great people. Apparently John McCain was in the room for a short time while we were at the poster session. I cannot believe I didn’t notice him in there, but I guess being in the same room and not knowing is almost as cool as meeting.

Tuesday was a fun day for Erin and me. We began the day by making a twitter account for the SOCKs. Our username is called SPSSOCKMONKEYS (yes, like the cute brown toys). Over the summer, we will be updating on the progress of our SOCK, talking about old SOCKs, and talking about our summer in Washington, D.C. Come on, you know you want to follow us. After being way too excited about having a twitter, Erin and I bought supplies online that we needed for the SOCKs this year. It was fun choosing all of the different things we want to include. We also made a trip to the virtual Particle Zoo to find a nice addition to the materials we are putting in the SOCKs. After work on Tuesday, the fun continued—barbeque style. We went to a science café in Rockville at a barbeque place called Branded 72. They had great macaroni and cheese. It was nice that most of the interns got to come to the café. Cabot even walked 2.5 miles to get there! The talk was interesting, but I have to say, having a science café at a barbeque place is a dangerous idea. With food like pulled pork, mac and cheese, and baked beans, I think it was difficult for some people (including myself) to not go into a food coma during the talk. (Or as my sister calls it: “The itis”)

Wednesday was a nice day. Erin and I have been doing a lot of collisions to advance our activity for high school level students. We decided that filming our collisions in slow motion would be a cool idea for high school students. It’s a great way to visualize the speeds of the objects before and after the collisions, and it is also just really cool to see everything happening frame by frame. Later in the morning we met with Gary to talk about our fission demo as well as modifications we could make to our Rutherford demo. At noon we met with people working all through the ACP building for an outreach themed lunch. While we ate, Moriel did a demo with oil, ice, and water. Although it did not work as planned, she came to our floor later and showed us her demo once more. It was very visually stimulating and would be a perfect project for parents to do with their children in middle school. After lunch, Erin and I showed our Rutherford demo to everyone, and it was very well received. We made a few last minute modifications to our activity, and it seemed to work out in our favor quite nicely. I enjoyed showing the activity to the staff and was very grateful for the feedback from everyone. It gave me just the encouraging boost I needed. After work, our Wednesday ritual of music in the park and frozen yogurt continued. I’ll tell you—none of us can seem to get enough of that fro-yo. It’s a good thing we limit ourselves to getting it on Wednesdays.

Thursday seemed to drag more than any day this week. Erin and I worked on collisions and taking video for the majority of the day. We were thankful that Paul on the third floor allowed us to use a video camera (thank you, Liz, for setting that up)! After taking video all day, we were able to narrow down what supplies we want to use for our fission-collision activity. Because Courtney is only here Mondays, we will be using iMovie on her computer to edit the videos to include with the SOCKs. We haven’t started editing yet, but I think that will be really fun. After work, the ACP interns went to Trader Joes to buy supplies to make curry that evening. We made Indian curry last night, which is definitely good, but I think I prefer Thai curry. We all cooked and ate dinner together. I really enjoy nights where everyone gets together like that.

Today Erin and I will be editing our collision videos, and hopefully we can get some good ones to include in the SOCK. I cannot wait for our supplies we ordered to come in. Once we get those supplies we are going to be doing some really fun projects that will give our SOCK just the edge it needs. Did I mention I love this job? After work, the interns are going to jazz at the Sculpture Garden. I’ve never been before, but I have heard good things. Today I will also be getting ready for my cousins to come visit me tomorrow. I haven’t seen them since I was very young, so I am really looking forward to it. On Sunday, some of us might be going to do the zoo. A good bit of the interns are traveling to New York this weekend (for all separate reasons), and they want to go to the zoo, too. I don’t know if I can wait!! I’m sure whatever we do, we’ll have fun—as usual.

In addition to all the things that happened this week, I learned two things that changed my life: I am addicted to curry, and Fidele considers Mississippi to be its own country. I guess that makes me one of the international students.

One more thing--I saw a guy doing pull ups on the metro this morning.


Auf Wiedersehen! (Don’t be confused—that language is not indigenous to the country of Mississippi.)

Friday, June 17th

Wow. This week has been extremely eventful here at the ACP.
Monday was so fantastic. Erin and I presented our lesson on collisions and Rutherford’s gold foil experiment to almost 100 third graders at Tuckahoe Elementary School. Those third graders were so receptive to everything we taught them, and from what I can tell, they had a great time. Aside from being such great sports, those were definitely the smartest third graders I have ever encountered. In part of the lesson when I transition into talking about atoms and the nucleus, I asked the children to name some of the smallest things they knew of. I thought typical answers would be things like the cell, a grain of sand, etc. BUT NO! I got answers immediately starting with atoms and continuing to get smaller with answers like proton, neutron, and QUARKS?! I was absolutely blown away, but in the greatest way possible. It is amazing to see such young students so open to learning, and I must say, they had an amazing teacher, along with all of the other teachers we met that day at Tuckahoe. Our lessons would not have gone as smoothly without the help of Gary, Kendra, Anish, Moriel, Elizabeth, and Fidele. I would like to give you guys a personal shout out: THANKS! After our lesson, everyone was rewarded with homemade ice cream, thanks to SPS. I got cinnamon ice cream, and it was awesome. On Monday night, we went to a Science Café at Busboys and Poets to learn about the science of what bugs (annoys) us. It was very interesting, and I had a great time. I think Anish got some good ideas from it for his science café, so overall, Monday was a success.
If I had to choose one word to describe Tuesday, I would pick hectic. Erin and I had one day to modify our lesson that we did on Monday to make it appropriate for seventh graders. I put together a power point while Erin edited our collision worksheet and created a data worksheet for the Rutherford demo. After we finished that, we put our brains together to produce a take-home supplemental sheet as well as treats for the kids to take home. Luckily, Erin and I did not have to go out and buy more supplies because Kendra and Gary were nice enough to go get more Hot Wheels tracks and clamps before they came to work Tuesday. Thank you! After putting everything together for our lesson, we were still able to leave the office by 5:30 that night.
Wednesday was slightly nerve wracking because we had not presented our modified demos to anyone in the office before testing them on the seventh graders. I would like to once again thank Gary, Kendra, Moriel, and Anish for helping Erin and me with our activities. For our first time doing the demos, I would say it went smoothly, and I thought it was a really good learning experience. Teaching middle school is much different than teaching elementary school, and teaching the seventh graders on Wednesday was able to help me see parts in our lesson that need modification. I think the students enjoyed watching our video and solving the mystery. It was fun to hear all of their ideas about our video. Let me just say, those students were great detectives. They not only figured out the mystery but were able to identify every single plot hole in our video. Sometimes any feedback is good feedback. Erin did a great job grabbing their attention right away, and the students immediately got into it. I really like the video aspect of our lesson, and I think it contains a lot of different ways for the students to connect all of the material together while having a good time.
Wednesday evening after work, most of the interns went to Farragut Square for the free concert in the park, which is held every Wednesday night for the month of June. Wednesday’s musical theme was funk, but it really was more like the most eclectic set of music ever. I guess to some people, funk means poppy radio hits, Michael Jackson, Journey, and Bon Jovi. We decided to go to a happy hour at a restaurant close to the concert to sit outside and enjoy the weather. It was a best case scenario (BCS) situation. Happy hours for young professionals are pretty popular here in DC. Now I feel like a real, young professional. Last night after our fun day in the park, a few worst case scenario (WCS) things happened, too. Around 10:30pm, the full length mirror in my dorm in front of my door, bathroom, and closet fell off the wall, just barely missing Cabot and shattering on the ground. The mirror was in the room when Moriel and I moved in. The mess was absolutely crazy and glass went everywhere, leaving barefoot Cabot stranded in our room. Because he was a broken glass refuge, I made him some chicken and cilantro wontons (rough life). My 7 years of bad luck did not hesitate to begin. I decided to lift my mood and make a turkey sandwich for my lunch at work, and my new, unopened turkey was filled with mold! Housekeeping did not arrive till almost one in the morning. It was absolutely crazy.
I decided to write my journals today (Thursday) because I did not want to forget any of these crazy and amazing things that happened this week. Today, Erin and I plan to look at more old SOCKs to get a feel for writing the manuals, and hopefully we can think of some more cool demos to put in this year’s kit. Tomorrow a bunch of the interns are going to see Noah and the Whale at the 9:30 club in DC. They are one of my favorite bands. They did a Sun Chips commercial a year or two ago, I believe. If they did a Sun Chips commercial, it’s obviously feel-good music. Thanks to the “Interns Rock” program going on in DC for the next few days, tickets to the show are 2 for 1. I am looking forward to it!
Well, this was officially the longest journal I have written thus far. Until next time!

Friday, June 10th

This week in D.C. simply flew by. It is hard to believe that I am already writing my second journal entry!

On Saturday morning, I met with a friend that I graduated from college with, and we went to visit Arlington National Cemetery. The property was absolutely beautiful and the tour was very interesting. However, I could not get over the fact that we were on a tour at a cemetery. Even though I found that strange, we learned a lot of interesting history, and overall, I enjoyed myself. After spending the morning at Arlington National Cemetery, we decided to go to Dupont Circle and have lunch at Kramer's Books. I was told that Kramer's was famous for being the place that Monica Lewinsky bought Bill Clinton's books. Regardless of that weird, fun fact, I enjoyed my lunch and the store was very quaint. After Kramer's we decided to head to Georgetown Cupcake to see if we could have our fifteen minutes of fame on camera. For those of you who don't know this, Georgetown Cupcake is famous for their series on TLC called "D.C. Cupcakes." Let me just tell you, those cupcakes were amazing. Sam, Heather, and I all indulged in many different flavors like salted caramel, key lime pie, and white chocolate raspberry. We waited in line for about forty minutes, but those cupcakes were well worth the wait, and we had a great time.

On Sunday, the interns decided to visit the Air and Space Museum, which was amazing. For some odd reason, I had this notion that we would be in and out of the museum in about two hours. I was so wrong about that. In about two hours, I was able to look at the NASA section and the planets section. For those of you who haven't been there, that is maybe about an eighth of the entire museum. The next museum I want to go to is the Natural History Museum because I love when museums have dinosaurs. I think the plan is to tackle a Smithsonian every weekend. It is unbelievable how much there is to see in D.C., and I want to see it all!

On Monday, Erin, Anish, and I went with Doug to buy supplies for the lessons coming up on the 13th and 15th. This week I have learned that Hot Wheels tracks are very hard to come by sometimes, and so are marbles. After returning from shopping, Erin and I spent the rest of the day testing out different balls for our collision activity, and since then, we have finally decided on the right ones. On Tuesday, we spent the day testing out our Rutherford activity, and Fidele made a very valuable suggestion that allowed us to finally decide what we were going to do. We showed our activity to Kendra and Gary, and they both seemed to enjoy it. That was very exciting.

On Tuesday after work, most of the interns and a few staff went to the Science Café at the National Science Foundation building in Arlington. That was my first science café, and it gave Anish some ideas of what he can do when he puts his own Science Café together. On Monday we will be going to another science café, and the topic is called “What Bugs Us,” which is about the science of why things likes nails on a chalkboard and someone talking on the phone in an elevator is annoying to people. It sounds very interesting, and I can’t wait to hear all about! Tuesday was also my sister’s birthday, and I wish I could have been home for that. For many years now, we have eaten at The Shed Barbeque for her birthday and this was the first year I missed it. Happy Birthday, Sis!

On Wednesday, I and the rest of the interns went to a workshop on how to get the most out of our internships. The workshop was at Farragut North, and as soon as we got off the metro, we could hear Latin music playing in the park. We took a short frozen yogurt/dance in the park break before we went to the workshop, and in that moment, I really felt like I was getting the most out of my experience here. Every once in a while, it is important to just stop and take in what is going on around you. I am so glad we stopped in the park; it was a nice pick-me-up for the rest of the day. Wednesday was my Dad’s birthday, and he had a birthday dinner at my favorite seafood restaurant, and I wish I could have been there, too. Happy Birthday, Dad!

Yesterday (Thursday), Kendra was nice enough to bring in some Hot Wheels Gravity Clamps and Tracks in for Erin and me so that we could make sure they worked before we did our run through lesson later that afternoon. Thanks, Kendra! Luckily, the Hot Wheels equipment worked just fine, and that was a huge relief. During the afternoon yesterday, Erin and I gave a run through of our lesson to some of the staff, and it turned out great! I am very excited to teach the lesson to a class on Monday and Wednesday of next week. Today (Friday), Erin and I will be working very hard to put the final touches on our lesson plan for Monday as well as having lunch and dinner with the SPS Executive Committee, followed by the Capitol Steps comedy group. It is supposed to rain this weekend, so that might be good museum weather, but I was really hoping to get back to Georgetown. Thank goodness for umbrellas! I’m sure that whatever we do, it will be a great weekend.

Friday, June 3rd

At 8:30am I arrived at the Gulfport, MS Airport to begin my travels to Washington, D.C. I said goodbye to my dad, mom, and sister and made my way through security. I knew the day was going to turn out great because one of the first people I saw in the airport was famous. I’m not saying that I necessarily watch Nickelodeon, but “Freddie” from the show iCarly was standing next to me at the airport. So thrilling. All of my flights went smoothly and were on time. I arrived in D.C. around 4pm to begin my list of “Things I Have Never Done Before.” (Aside from flying alone.) I took my first taxi cab ride to GWU where after checking in, I settle into my dorm room. Erin Grace, another intern for SPS, knocked on my door and we met. I am so thrilled to be working with her on the SOCKs. Soon after meeting Erin, Cabot arrived as did most of the other interns shortly thereafter. On the first night, we decided to go to CVS as well as a pub a few blocks away from the dorm for dinner. The excitement of being in D.C. had not yet faded, even after traveling all day, so we decided to walk to the National Mall and check out the Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and the Vietnam War Memorial, all of which were breathtaking. We also stopped by the Einstein statue on the way back.
On Monday morning, which just so happened to be Memorial Day, we took the metro to target. After riding the metro, I crossed another bullet off my “Things I Have Never Done Before” list, which is in fact a mental list. The metro is very nice and clean, and fairly easy to navigate if you know what colors you need to take. After all of the interns arrived (except for one coming later in the summer) we decided to go to a Thai place for dinner that Courtney’s friend suggested. I must say, it was a great suggestion. After dinner I retired to my room early to gear myself up for orientation at work the next day.
Tuesday was our first day at work for orientation and our first long commute to work. Even though it does take a while to get to work, the time goes by rather quickly. When we arrived, we met a lot of people working in the ACP building. Everyone was very nice and enthusiastic. After doing some activities and being introduced, all of the interns took group pictures with Nobel Laureate, Dr. John Mather, whom we also got to eat lunch with. After orientation we all went to our respective work places. I am working in a cubicle on the second floor with SPS National next to Erin and Anish. Erin, Anish, and I met with Gary and Kendra to set a schedule for the summer and begin preparing for our first outreach lesson on Rutherford’s discovery of the nucleus, which will take place on June 13th.
Wednesday was rather uneventful in the sense that Erin and I spent most of the day brainstorming for the first outreach project and doing research on Rutherford’s gold foil experiment, the plum pudding model, and elastic collisions. Thursday was an extremely productive day in the office. Erin and I put together a lesson plan for June 13th, designed and created the structure for one of our demos, conducted some collisions to decide on the best materials for our activity, and began making a worksheet for our lesson.
Today (Friday, June 03, 2011), Erin and I took a small field trip to Home Depot and Target this morning to get the supplies we needed for our outreach project. Home Depot generously gave us free wood that we could use for collision tracks, and we also bought some gold spray paint to go along with our gold foil theme. No one seemed to have steel balls that we could use, so we bought the next best thing: plastic balls filled with glitter and water. This afternoon we are going to test to see how they work, and hopefully our ideas prove to be successful. Overall, I would say that this was an amazing first week at work, and if it is any reflection on what the remainder of the summer will be like, I couldn’t be more excited.

< back to top


Name Amanda Palchak
University of Southern Mississippi
Internship: SPS SOCK/AIP Career Pathways Project
Follow SPS on: Twitter Facebook YouTube Photobucket The Nucleus Email and Share

Final Presentation

2011 SPS Sock: A Century of Revolution

AIP Career Pathways

2011 SPS SOCKs Abstract
This year marks the 10th year of SPS’s Science Outreach Catalyst Kit (SOCK) program. The theme of this year’s SOCK is “A Century of Revolution,” which celebrates Rutherford’s discovery of the atomic nucleus based on the results of the Gold Foil Experiment. For the first lesson, students solve a “gold robbery” by learning about collisions. In the collision activity, students form patterns in why different kinds of balls collide differently. The second activity, the mystery box activity, is a metaphor for the Gold Foil Experiment. Students roll marbles (alpha particles) into a raised box (gold foil) and observe the directions the marbles exit the box. The last lesson is on nuclear fission and focuses on how nuclear reactions can become a chain reaction. Throwing a ping pong ball into an enclosure of set mousetraps with ping pong balls on top gives students a very vivid picture of chain reactions.

AIP Careet Pathways Abstract
AIP Career Pathways is a new project funded by the National Science Foundation.  One of the goals of AIP Career Pathways is to prepare students to compete for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) careers with a bachelor’s degree in physics.  In order to do so, I reviewed and compiled useful resources on finding a STEM career with a bachelor’s degree in physics.  These resources not only supply the job seeker with job postings in STEM careers but also provide them with information on resumes, interviewing skills, and networking.  Ultimately, these components will be used as supplements at student career workshops held at annual SPS Zone Meetings.

   Home  |  Search   |   Site Map  |   Privacy   |   Contact SPS