This week has been very exciting and very busy. On Saturday, I made the journey to DC and spent the afternoon moving in to the dorms. I also met my awesome roommate and fellow SOCK intern, Melissa. That evening, I went to dinner in Georgetown with my parents and boyfriend, who all came to help move me in. We walked around for a while and ended up in a place called Thunder, which had really good burgers and was decorated in a rock and roll theme. On Sunday, all of the interns got together to meet each other and go to TGI Fridays. It was great meeting everyone that will be here this summer! Monday morning we had orientation and also had the pleasure of meeting and having lunch with Dr. John Mather, who won the Nobel Prize in 2006.
Melissa and I have also been very busy brainstorming ideas for our SOCK. The SOCK (Science Outreach Catalyst Kit) is sent to SPS chapters to be used in outreach events that they are involved with. The SOCK has a theme every year and has activities and instructions to go along with the activities. Our theme this year has to do with unseen forces. We have been working with spandex to model gravity and investigate orbits, as well as using iron filings to show the magnetic field of various magnets and combinations of magnets. We have begun to order parts to play around with different ideas and see what will be the most effective activities to use in our SOCKs. In addition, we are preparing to give a demonstration involving some of these activities to 3rd graders next Wednesday, as well as one for high school students the day after that.
Aside from working on the SOCK activities, we also have been busy with a lot of events this week. On Wednesday, Melissa and I travelled with Gary to the University of Maryland campus, where Gary was giving a presentation to the competitors for the 2012 Physics Olympiad National team. After his talk, we were able to see and participate in the spandex demonstration. On Thursday, all of the interns were attended the “Celebration of Scientific Citizenship” event in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Niels Bohr Library and Archives. This event was held in the beautiful home of Dr. and Mrs. Marc and Vivian Brodsky. At the event, I had the opportunity to meet many prestigious physicists and also practice my elevator speech! This has been an amazing first week!
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This week definitely flew by! On Sunday, some of the interns got together and went to the Natural History Museum. This is one of my favorite museums, because there is so much to see! We started off at the dinosaur exhibit and were immediately transported back in time to see all kinds of different dinosaurs from millions of years ago. The Hope diamond was next, along with a multitude of gems and jewelry from all over the world. Among other things we saw were a mummy exhibit, whales, fish, and tarantulas. I could easily spend another afternoon in this museum, but there are many others to see as well! Afterwards, we had a pasta dinner and spent the evening relaxing before it was back to work the next day.
On Monday and Tuesday, Melissa and I were busy preparing our materials since we had school visits on Wednesday and Thursday. We held a practice run at the office to go through our demonstrations and were offered some very constructive feedback from everyone around the office. We started off with our spandex demonstration of gravity, orbits, and planetary rings. After that, we moved on to investigating magnets and their field lines with iron filings before ending with a real life application of magnets – using them to generate electricity. We then did some final adjustments to our lesson and proceeded to gather all of our supplies together for the next day.
Wednesday was our first presentation of the lesson we had developed. Melissa and I had been able to enlist the help of a few of the interns as well as staff; Gary, Kendra, Elizabeth, Matt and Ryan accompanied us. We arrived at Tuckahoe Elementary School that morning to a classroom full of ebullient third graders. After brief introductions, we divided the class into two groups for the spandex, led by Melissa and myself. The students loved it! They were all able to participate by holding the spandex and rolling marbles to create orbits, and they also were learning while they were doing it. The students were especially interested in the planetary rings demonstration. Next, we broke up into five groups instead of our original two and continued with the magnetism part of the day. The students discovered which materials are magnetic and which are not. They also investigated the magnetic field lines of bar magnets and combinations of bar magnets, as well as refrigerator magnets and several others. We concluded magnetism with a game, where one team hid magnets under a paper and the others had to use iron filings to recognize the field lines and infer the orientation of the magnets. Since we only had an hour for each group, we had to cut the electricity part out of our lesson. Afterward, we had a pizza lunch with the teachers that were there, and were pleased to discover they enjoyed our lesson. After leaving the school, we stopped for ice cream and to talk about what to improve for our lessons before heading back to work to plan for our presentation to high schoolers the next day. After work, the interns got together for dinner. We took the metro to Chinatown and found a restaurant called Clyde’s. The food was delicious, and since it was a nice night out, we walked back to our dorms together instead of taking the metro.
Thursday morning, we met with Gary to go over our plan for the day one last time, and then went over to the high school. This time we only had half an hour to present, so we decided only to use the spandex. We modeled orbits, binary systems, tides, planetary rings, and the creation of the solar system. Our reservations that the high school students may not be as enthusiastic as the third graders were quickly eradicated. Apparently age doesn’t matter when it comes to spandex and marbles! After three classes that went smoothly, Melissa, Gary and I went for lunch at a place called the Lost Dog Café to discuss the day. We talked about what went well, what parts of our lesson need to be developed a little more, and what to do next for the SOCK.
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Friday night, a few of us started off the weekend by going to DC Improv, a comedy club a short walk away from our dorm. Dan was here for the weekend, so it ended up being us, Melissa and Jonathan seated front and center, with our table literally touching the stage! We ordered a few appetizers and waited for the show to begin. Gary Valentine was the featured comedian, but the two before him were absolutely hilarious. All in all, it ended up being way better than I expected. The next day, Saturday, we ventured to the zoo. Although some of the animals, like the sloth bear, had either escaped or were in hiding, we did get to see a lot of interesting animals. My personal favorite was the lions, because they were walking around and roaring (as opposed to the tiger, who was laying in the grass and refused to look at us).
This week at work, Melissa and I have been busy yet again! We found some really cool things to order that we are hoping to include in the sock: Ferrofluid, magnetic field viewing paper, and even a magnet from a health store. We also ordered different kinds of iron filings and iron powder so we can pick the best choice for the SOCK. Aside from ordering, we put together a rough draft of the spandex demonstration to include in our instruction manual. We typed up instructions for the various spandex demonstrations, the physics behind each of the topics, and objectives for what the students will learn from each of the demonstrations. Since we also want to include an instructional video showing how to do each of these spandex demonstrations, but there are only two of us to hold the spandex, we constructed a frame to hold the spandex for us. We have also been focusing on magnetic fields. We began taking pictures of the magnetic fields of various magnets that we plan to include in our SOCK as a reference guide. In order to adapt the game for high school students, we decided to have pictures of magnetic fields and have them figure out what arrangement of magnets caused the field pattern. This resulted in Melissa and I investigating the magnetic field pattern of various arrangements of magnets in order to find the best ones to include in the game.
Aside from working on the SOCK, we also attended a work picnic on Tuesday. There was a lot of great food, as well as an egg relay race and talent show. There are a lot of very talented employees at ACP! Tuesday turned out to be a busy day, because after work the interns went to a Washington Nationals baseball game. Sadly, the Nationals lost, although we still had a great time. On Thursday, there was an education/outreach lunch. I learned about many upcoming events for anyone interested in physics outreach/teaching. Towards the end, Matt entertained everyone with his laminar flow demonstration, and Melissa and I brought our spandex to do a short demonstration.
Tonight the interns plan on going to “Jazz in the Garden,” an outdoor jazz concert that goes on every Friday at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden. There is a different performer every week; this week is John Lee. We have not been to any of these concerts yet, but it should be a good time!
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Last Friday after work, most of the interns went to listen to the jazz concert in the Sculpture Garden. There were so many more people there than I was expecting! After walking around and looking at the sculptures, we found an open spot on the grass where we could relax and listen to the concert. Matt suggested a restaurant near Capitol Hill called Good Stuff Eatery, so after we were done at the Sculpture Garden we headed to dinner. None of us had been there, but we soon discovered how amazing their food was! I had the best burger I have had in a while, and I think everyone else felt pretty much the same way. On Saturday, we went exploring at the Air and Space museum. Binayak suggested that we try the flight simulator, so four of us decided we would. Matt and I were in the same plane. After watching how badly other people were doing as we waited in line, we decided we would be happy just to get one target. As it turns out, we beat our goal and shot down not just one but two other planes! The rest of the Air and Space museum was also really cool. On Sunday, Melissa and I made a trip to the Eastern Market. It was fun to walk around and see what everyone was selling. There were tents set up with paintings, posters, pottery and crafts. There was also a farmers market and food stands inside one of the buildings. We each bought ravioli from one of the stands in the market, which turned out to be delicious! That evening, Melissa and I went to Georgetown to H&M and Urban Outfitters, and later that night had dinner with everyone back at our dorms. Tom made amazing pizza, completely from scratch, for all of us!
After a busy weekend, we returned to work on Monday ready to continue our magnet catalog as well as work on the power point for our magnet game, which we then spent the next few days working on. Our iron filings, Ferrofluid, magnetic silly putty, and magnetic viewing sheets also came in, so we have been experimenting with those as well. After work on Monday, all of the interns met at a Nepalese restaurant called Himalayan Heritage. The food was great, and it was nice getting everyone together for an evening before Binayak left to go back to New York. On Tuesday, Matt and I were able to sit in on a workshop for new physics and astronomy faculty that was being held at ACP. This workshop was very interesting for me because I will be student teaching in the spring. I liked learning about different ways to make teaching interactive, even when giving a lecture. Wednesday, Aaron Schuetz, a physics teacher at Yorktown High School, came to ACP to talk to us about the SOCK. Gary is leaving to work at the National Science Foundation for a year or two, so Aaron is our new mentor for the SOCK. Wednesday night, Tom taught us a card game called Munchkin. I don’t think I quite figured it out, but it was still fun!
It’s Friday morning, and we have an eventful day planned. Soon, the rest of the interns that don’t work at ACP will be arriving for the day. We are touring the ACP and have meetings set up with various staff members to learn more about what goes on in the building. Also, the SPS Executive Committee is having a meeting at ACP, and we had the pleasure of being invited to eat lunch with them. I’ll be sure to include more about all of this in my journal for next week!
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Last Friday, we had a tour of the building with the interns. Although most of us already work at the building, we still learned a lot because we were able to meet with a lot of people we hadn’t talked to before. We learned about Physics Today, American Association of Physics Teachers, American Association of Physicists in Medicine, and many other things that go on in the building. Everyone was very enthusiastic to talk to us. We also met the SPS Executive Committee at lunch, and Melissa and I were able to do a demonstration for them of what we are going to put in the SOCK. Overall, it went very well. On Monday, Aaron came to the ACP to help Melissa and I plan out what we should work on next. We decided a shopping trip for supplies was necessary, so on Tuesday we met at the Clarendon metro stop with a long list of supplies we needed. We arrived at Home Depot, only to be told that the store was closed due to a power outage from the recent storms. We were told to come back in an hour so we went to Jo Ann’s, which luckily was open. We bought their stock of jewelry containers to use for our magnetic field viewers and also found foam that we can package the magnets in. We then stopped at a fabric store, where we got two samples of different kinds of spandex. Home Depot was still not open, so we went in search of a place that still had power so we could eat lunch, and after that headed to a different Home Depot. There we found washers and dowels. Finally, we ended at an outdoors store to get tent poles for our spandex frame.
Wednesday was the Fourth of July, so although it was very hot, we left around three to set up camp on the Capitol lawn. It was fun hanging out with everyone and waiting for the fireworks to start. Around 8, the entertainment started with “A Capitol Fourth,” with the fireworks following soon after. It was really cool seeing the fireworks above the Washington Monument.
On Thursday, Aaron came to the ACP with all of the supplies we had bought earlier in the week. We put the tent poles together and made an important discovery; the spandex could be held on with binder clips! Therefore, we no longer have to sew the spandex at all. We also found glitter shakers to hold the iron filings. Friday, we were able to borrow a video camera from Jenny to make our spandex videos. We spent the morning filming and then took the afternoon to edit the videos. We made more progress editing than I expected us to so far! We also were able to attend a meeting during lunch to discuss what SPS should sell at PhysCon this year.
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This week went by very fast! On Friday, Melissa, Allen and I went to a Nationals game with some interns from the American Geosciences Institute. They were all very nice and it was fun talking to them during the game. Although the Nationals lost to the Rockies, it was still a good time. Saturday a few of us went to the Hirshhorn Museum of Modern Art and then to the National Archives. The museum of modern art is very interesting because of all the different kinds of art you see there. Some of the art is really cool while some things you look at and wonder why it’s there. We then went to the National Archives, where we were able to see the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights on display.
Monday, Melissa and I spent our day finishing up our video for NOVA. NOVA is providing funding for our SOCK this year, so we met with them on Tuesday via Skype to give them an overview of our plans for the SOCK. Although we were nervous for the meeting, everyone we talked to was very nice and interested in what we had to say. We even received a few suggestions of things to add to the SOCK, including a suggestion to add a cow magnet. After our meeting on Tuesday, Melissa and I spent the afternoon preparing a magnetism demonstration to do at a physics camp at the University of Maryland the next day. We made a worksheet to go along with our magnet game, gathered all of our materials together, and came up with an outline for our demonstration. Tuesday night, Melissa, Matt, Allen and I went to the Kennedy Center for one of their free 6:00 performances. The performance was with a few of the members of the Kennedy Center Opera House Orchestra.
On Wednesday morning, we went to the University of Maryland for our demonstration to the physics camp, which was for 9th graders. We began with introductions and then gave them a chance to use the magnetic field viewers to investigate what the magnetic field of different magnets looked like with the iron filings. We then explained our magnetic field game. We gave them a worksheet with eight different iron filing patterns and space beside each one to draw the magnet configuration that would produce the image that we had given them. After the game, we showed them Ferrofluid. Overall, the demonstration went very well and helped us know what parts of our demonstration need to be modified before we go back to a different physics camp in two weeks. The rest of the week has involved writing up the instruction manual and making corrections to it. We have a good start on the spandex portion of this, but have the most work to do on the magnetism section.
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It’s hard to believe that this is the end of week seven already! We only have two and a half weeks left, so Melissa and I have been busy working on our user guide for the SOCK. Although we already had most of the spandex activities typed up, we spent this week working on writing introductory material as well as writing the magnetism section. I also worked on adding objectives to each activity.
Tuesday morning, Melissa and I were able to join a creative development meeting regarding a Physics Today mailing. It was really interesting to be a part of this meeting, particularly because I have never been exposed to any sort of marketing concepts. That afternoon, I listened to a webinar titled “Acing the Physics GRE”. Jeremy Dodd, an estimable connoisseur of the Physics GRE, provided a lot of useful information and resources to look into. Tuesday night, Melissa and I found a redbox not too far away from our dorm so we rented a movie for the night.
On Wednesday, we met Aaron in Arlington at a coffee shop to discuss what else we needed to accomplish for the week, including things to change for our magnetism demonstration before we go back to the University of Maryland next week to do a demonstration for another physics camp as well as what the order of the magnetism activities should be in the SOCK. We also made a few worksheets on Wednesday to include in the SOCK with the magnetism activities.
Thursday evening we had a barbeque planned at the Dylla’s house. However, due to the large chance of rain the barbeque was held in the cafeteria here at the ACP. I had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people that work at the ACP as well as some former interns. It was great getting to talk to former interns and learn about their experiences. Next week, we scheduled a presentation of the Physics IQ Test, so this morning Melissa and I sent out email invitations for the event.
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On Saturday, some of the interns got together to go to the Newseum. The first thing I noticed when we walked in was the design of the building itself. There were even huge glass elevators to bring you up to the top floor. The Newseum had some really interesting exhibits to see. They had part of the Berlin Wall, Pulitzer Prize winning photos, G-men and Journalists and sports photography, just to name a few. After the museum, I went to the Cheesecake Factory with Dan because he was visiting for the weekend.
On Monday, Melissa and I prepared for our outreach event that was scheduled for Tuesday. We were planning to do the same lesson as two weeks ago, so we had to make changes based on feedback we received from the last outreach. This involved creating another worksheet and adding the number of magnets used in each picture for the magnet game. We met with Aaron in the afternoon to go over the plan for Tuesday. We also received feedback from him about our gravity write up.
The next day we met at the ACP before heading to the University of Maryland for our outreach event with a science camp there. Our lesson went over smoothly, and we were able to see the effect of the changes we made to the previous material. Overall, the kids seemed to enjoy the lesson. Melissa, Ryan, Binayak and I went to a restaurant in Georgetown on Tuesday night called The Guard. It was a great restaurant and it was nice not having to cook for the night. Melissa and I also went shopping at a few places nearby after dinner.
On Wednesday, we finished typing the rough draft of the instructions for magnetism, as well as made changes to the gravity instructions. We also took some pictures for our user manual. Wednesday was especially exciting because we got our first package of materials for the SOCK – iron filings! We also got a few more materials on Thursday, including our huge roll of spandex. Thursday night we had a pizza dinner and then went to the University of Maryland for the Physics IQ Test. The Physics IQ Test is a series of demonstrations and you have to figure out what is going to happen during the demonstration, but most of them are counterintuitive. This was a fun way to spend the evening and I ended up learning a lot.
Friday we took a tour of NIST, where Binayak and Tom are working for the summer. They showed us their labs that they have been working in, and we also got a tour of a few other labs. We saw three of the world’s most powerful microscopes, as well as a machine that is extremely accurate at measuring length. Then we took a tour of the library, where we saw a tree grown from a clipping of Newton’s apple tree!
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It’s hard to believe this was our last full week in DC! Since we only have a few days left, Melissa and I have been very busy putting the final touches on our SOCK. Most of our materials came in this week, so we separated marbles into bags, packaged ferrofluid, and shock corded tent poles. Today we put together the boxes and put the SOCKs together! We also finished making videos so that we can include an instructional DVD with each kit. Our user guide, after many revisions, is also almost done! We plan to finish putting the user guide together on Monday so that we can put the folders together.
Monday afternoon, Allen and Jon took us on a tour of the Capitol and showed us their offices. The Capitol tour was amazing! Allen and Jon knew a lot of interesting facts about the building and what goes on at the Capitol. We also were able to get passes to sit in on a session at the Senate. Even though I was expecting the room to be crowded because they were in session, we only saw two Senators while we were there! After the Senate, Jon showed us his office where he has been working for the summer, and then Allen took us to see his office as well.
On Thursday, we went for a tour of the White House. It was a self-guided tour, so we got to walk through the rooms at our own leisure. The rooms we were able to walk through were the formal rooms that are used for things like dinner parties. After the White House, we went to the Supreme Court building. We were just in time for the last talk of the day, so we got to sit in the courtroom and learn about the history of the Supreme Court and of the room itself. Later, Matt, Allen, Binayak and I played tennis in the park down the street and then met up with Tom and Melissa to go to Fro-Yo.
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For our last week, we were very busy trying to get our final presentation together and also finish putting the socks in boxes. Since almost everything was already in the boxes from last week, all we had to do was distribute the materials that had come in over the weekend into the SOCKs. We also had a practice run through of our final presentations on Monday. We received feedback from the other interns and staff about our presentation and then made necessary changes. One suggestion that Melissa and I got that worked really well was to move our spandex demonstration to earlier in the presentation instead of at the end.
On Tuesday, we gave our final presentations in the morning. Many people from the ACP, as well as some parents, were present to hear about our internships. All of the interns gave very interesting talks about their summer. Afterwards, we traveled to the Udvar-Hazy center to see the space shuttle Discovery as well as many planes that are kept there. On Wednesday, we arrived at the ACP for our last day of work. We had breakfast and talked about how the summer went. Then we cleaned up our work stations, said our goodbyes, and headed back to Foggy Bottom. I left on Wednesday to come back home. It was sad saying goodbye to everyone that I had become such close friends with over the summer, but hopefully we will all be able to meet up again at the Physics Congress in November!
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After completing the SOCK this summer and spending ten weeks in Washington, DC, I still can’t believe I was able to experience this amazing opportunity. I learned so many things along the way, like how much work goes into planning outreach activities and how long it takes to develop the activities. I also met many wonderful people that I worked with this summer. Everyone was very helpful and eager to test out activities for Melissa and me before we used them in outreach.
I had such a good time getting to know the other interns throughout the summer. In addition to our internships, we were able to explore the city this summer. We did so many things together, from going to museums, to shopping in Georgetown, to watching the fireworks on the Fourth of July.
The SPS Internship experience really opened my eyes to the different opportunities there are in physics. From talking to different people around the American Center for Physics, I learned about opportunities in medical physics, teaching, outreach, and writing for physics publications. I had not realized how many different physics related careers were out there. I am very grateful that I was chosen for the SPS SOCK internship and for everyone at the American Center for Physics that helped to make my summer so amazing!
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