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Southern Polytechnic State University, APS PhysicsQuest Intern
Jamie is working with the American Physical Society's PhysicsQuest. PhysicsQuest aims to teach middle school students physics concepts, but its overarching goal is to give them a positive experience with physics. Jamie is developing extension activities to complement the core PhysicsQuest experiments and will be writing teacher/student instructions for each activity.
Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5 | Week 6 | Week 7 | Week 8 | Week 9 | Week 10 | Final Reflections | Final Presentation
Week 10: Best Summer Ever
Museums, shopping, boat rides, walking, and a lot of food. I have had the best summer in DC working with SPS and exploring the city. I have made friends that I will keep in touch with as we all depart and travel back to our hometowns; also, I’ve made professional connections that I can contact in the future for advice.
The last week began with presentation practice on Monday. All the interns gathered in the conference room to practice final presentations. We were all there to give feedback to make the presentations the best they could be. Everyone did so well! I was very nervous, but I received some wonderful advice and fixed it up to perfection. After work we went out as a group for the last time to a Chinese restaurant.
It was up and at ‘em early the next morning. Professional dress and smiling faces put on and we were off to ACP early to settle. Everyone’s presentations were flawless! A quick lunch and mingling after the presentations and then we were off to tour the State Department. I picked my car up that afternoon and loaded up all my packed bags for the drive home. The next morning was bittersweet.
All the interns had breakfast at ACP filled out our final paperwork, and said goodbye to our offices and mentors. Everyone at SPS and AIP have worked so very hard this summer to help us out, and they did a lot of work to get us here and take care of us while we stayed in DC. I am grateful for my opportunity to journey to DC and take part in an adventure of a lifetime. It has been the best summer ever, and I would recommend this opportunity to anyone interested.
Week 9: The End...But Not Really
This past weekend I went to the Air and Space Museum Extension in Chantilly, VA. The extensive hanger holds hundreds of planes of all shapes and sizes; they even host the Space Shuttle Discovery! The museum has five flight simulators, and of course I had to ride in it. The extension is about an hour bus ride from L’Enfant Plaza and then another 15 minute shuttle; it is well worth the trip. This was by far the best and most exciting museum I’ve been to, and I’m glad I took the journey out there.
I also did a morning monument walk. The weather has been so hot during the day it is hard to want to walk outside, but first thing in the morning isn’t so bad. I made sure to take a lot of pictures. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it to all of them before it started getting hot outside and I headed back to the dorm.
Monday at work I found my last demonstration for my Absorption Spectra topic. I began writing up all activities in the student and teacher worksheets. Wednesday Daniel Golombek gave an interesting talk on the Hubble Space Telescope downstairs. By Thursday I was able to turn in all my activities along with key term worksheets and suggested sources for teachers to read more about each topic. It was time to finish up my final presentation. I’ve been working on it since about week two, but I had a lot of updating to do because a lot of time has passed since then. If I say so myself I am very proud. I am proud of everything I’ve done this summer, and I’m proud of what I have to show for it.
This summer has flown by; I’m sad to say that its almost over. Monday we are doing a practice run of our presentation with all the interns. Tuesday, we have our final presentations in the morning and a tour of the State Department in the afternoon. Wednesday, we come back for breakfast and a tour of ACP (American Center for Physics). I remember at the beginning of the internship they told us we would understand all of the acronyms they use here, and they were right!
Week 8: Weak Ate
The beginning of this week I started working on preliminary drawings for the Angular Momentum and Rotation. I have to send them to the Art Director at APS to have them professional drawn up for my activities. Becky gave me my final topic for the last three activities for the PhysicsQuest project. I am working on Absorption Spectra. I’ve been searching several books of physics demonstrations for ideas. I’ve found a couple I think I can alter in a book Elizabeth let me borrow called Hands on Physics Activities with Real-Life Applications. There are tons of activities in this book; I’m thinking about buying a copy for myself. I am considering an activity using a red and blue filter and pictures in red and blue. When looking through the red filter the student will be able to see the blue writing and when looking through the blue filter the student will only be able to see the red writing. If you have a pair of old 3D glasses at home with a red lens and a blue lens try looking at this image with only one eye at a time, then both eyes.
The Library of Congress
Friday we did a tour of the Capitol. We started with lunch in the Library of Congress, which was delightful. The Library of Congress definitely has the best lunchroom I’ve been to. The Capitol tour was amazing! We had a guided tour from an employee who told us about individual paintings and statues. She also shared some personal experiences that made the tour memorable. Her memory of September 11, 2001 brought tears to my eyes. She feared for her life that day. She looked back at the Capitol building running out thinking it may be the last thing she ever looked at. It is these types of stories that make an impact.
Saturday I went to Chinatown to the Regal Cinema to watch Red 2. I watched the first one the night before and it was hilarious. Sunday morning I made a trip out to the Building Museum. The architecture is beautiful, and the shop inside the museum is amazing! Toni invited all the interns over to her house in the afternoon to watch The Wizard of Oz and eat burgers. It was fun to go out as a group again with everyone.
Week 7: Museums Galore
Time is just flying by here in DC. Last weekend my friends flew up from Georgia and we went to a few museums on Saturday. We started off at the Holocaust museum, then journeyed to the Air and Space Museum, next walking to the National History Museum, and finally the American History Museum. We visited a few of the exhibits in the Air and Space and National History Museum that I didn’t see the last time. After all the walking around on Saturday I felt like I needed a day of rest on Sunday. I made a quick trip to a Redbox machine at Columbia Heights and discovered an interesting Museum that I had not heard of yet.
The Museum of Unnatural History is a small shop right across from the metro station. They carry items for sale including: Primordial Soup, Mega Sand (rocks in a jar), and a Bone Saw (butter knife).
Have you ever wondered if a tree fell in the forest and no one is around to hear it, will it make a sound?
Well the Museum of Unnatural History has the answer. Well… three answers really. Apparently It depends on the type of wood.
At work I began testing a couple new activities for Angular Momentum and Rotation. I’ve found several good demonstrations of the topic. Now its just getting them to work correctly. The write-ups for the teacher and student worksheets are going to be a little different for this topic. I am drawing up a few pictures to take to the art department here at APS to help me enter into my directions. It is a good thing they are not my drawings. The kids would be so confused.
Wednesday I went back to NIST for the teacher workshop to aid in circuit building for the theramin the teachers are building from the SOCK kit. The teachers who were selected for this workshop are getting a lot of neat things to take home and use in their classrooms. Nicole ordered the parts for the theramin and Kendra, Caleb, and I came in to help the teachers build their own to keep. I stayed for the rest of the day at NIST, where the teachers were shown a spectrometer demonstration with water balloons.
It was such a fun activity and very easy to follow for a middle school level. Friday is the end of the teacher workshop and also the tour of NIST for all the interns. I hope to stop in and say goodbye to the teachers before they depart. Having only spent two days with them I feel that I have learned a lot in my time there and I see their passion for teaching. I hope to be a teacher that is always willing to learn and develop techniques to keep my classroom interesting and informative.
In big news today, the Titun Arum is about to bloom at the United States Botanic Garden. This is a plant that blooms only ones every few years and could take as long as a decade to bloom. When it does bloom it releases a potent smell compared to that of rotting flesh. Because of this I think I will partake in the adventure and watch the live stream video online in my air-conditioned, fresh smelling dorm room. Live video stream is available at: http://www.usbg.gov/return-titan .
Week 6: In a Contemplative Fashion, and a Tranquil Frame of Mind
My new topics for the PhysicsQuest project are proving more difficult than the previous. I am working on rotation and angular momentum in relation to quantum physics. I’ve been working with ideas like Dirac’s Belt Trick, and the Balinese cup trick. The underlying problem here is these are more spinor demonstrations than activities. I am reading more about the topics in Understanding Quantum Physics, and I hope to have more ideas soon. My internship here at APS is flying by, with only a month left I still have quite a lot to do.
We are beginning our tours of each others workplaces this week. Wednesday we toured NASA Goddard. It is enormous! Alec and Darren are working on separate projects at NASA this summer, and it was amazing to see all they’ve accomplished. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden gave a presentation upon arrival about budget and politics. Fortunately we had two wonderful tour guides, Dr. John Mather and Dr. Ted Gull. We stayed for hours and we were able to see the WFC2 (Wide Field Camera 2) that was on Hubble for 15 years and will be in the Smithsonian later this year for Hubble’s 20th anniversary, the centrifuge, the largest operational clean room, the MMS satellites, and the vacuum chamber. I probably missed a few things; there was so much to see! What an extraordinary experience to be able to tour, let alone work at this facility.
Centrifuge at NASA - they still use this!
Nicole invited us to a teacher workshop at NIST where I helped teachers in a workshop go through some demonstrations she has developed this summer. The workshop began at 9am and meant we had to leave for work significantly earlier than usual. The class began with a measuring activity, where the teachers broke into groups of four and measured a 50ft rope with various length measuring sticks that we created. The teachers were oblivious that their sticks were different lengths and they quickly began questioning why they were all getting different answers. It was exciting to see their shocked explanations when we told them the strings were in fact the same length it was the measuring sticks that varied. The second part of the activity was making a small theramin. Unfortunately, we were short on time and weren’t able to finish our activity. Luckily, we will be going back next Wednesday to help the teachers build the theramin. If I must say so myself everything went very smooth and it was nice working with educators who are implementing hands on demonstrations into their classrooms. I spent the rest of the day with the teachers at NIST; I toured a ballistics unit, sat in on a lecture that explained how to answer any question ever, and assisted in an activity building wood sets for DNA to protein via mRNA.
A few of my friends are flying in from Georgia this weekend to tour the city. I have made a complete itinerary to ensure we accomplish as many things as possible in the few days they are able to stay. Saturday alone we plan to visit: the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial, the Washington Monument, the Holocaust Museum, the Air and Space Museum, and the Museum of National History. All before catching the metro back to Foggy Bottom and heading off to Georgetown for dinner. Wish us luck, as we try to pack all of this into one day in DC.
Week 5: Independence Day
Dinner with the SPS Executive Committee was delicious. It was delivered to ACP and we ate in the conference room on the fifth floor. It was a quick meal before we went to the Capitol Steps show in DC. The show was full of hilarious political satire that mocks everyone. It was quite a riot.
Saturday we made a trip to the Hungarian Folk Festival that was held in the Mall. There were entertaining booths set up that displayed a wide variety of arts and crafts along with musical instruments, textiles, and games. We spent several hours at the festival, making sure we visited every booth. Everyone tried walking on stilts, which is much harder than it looks. In order to cool off from the sweltering heat I stopped into the National History Museum. It was by far my favorite museum so far! I love dinosaurs!
The next day we went to the Smithsonian Zoo; however, mid-day when the temperature is 90+ is a bad time to visit. Most of the animals were hiding. The zoo is on my list to go to again, and maybe I’ll make my trip in the morning next time.
The first week of July flew by at work. Becky gave me a few new topics that I need to study. Toni is lending me a book, Understanding Quantum Physics, by Michael Morrison. Surprisingly, it is intriguing and an easy textbook to read. I am reading about Rotation and Angular Momentum. I have an idea about the direction I should head. The work week was cut short as we were given Thursday, July 4th and Friday, July 5th off for Independence Day here at ACP!
Thursday one of Ro’s friends invited us to a pool party/BBQ at her house. We took the metro and she kindly picked us up at the stop. The food was amazing, and the day was very relaxing. We left her house around 6 pm that evening to head back to DC for fireworks. We grabbed our diffraction grating glasses and blankets and hit the road to insure a good spot on the ground outside theWashington Monument. Never have I been to quite a large Fireworks display! The presentation was beautiful, and the diffraction grating glasses only improved the spectacular show.
Week 4: Pirate Ships and Spectroscopy
Saturday I went to play pool and watch the soccer game with Ro, Alec, and Darren. Soccer isn’t
really my thing, but it’s fun to go out and try new places. That night we went out to Gallery Place to the Regal Cinema to see The Bling Ring. The movie was fantastic! I may be a little biased because I am a huge Emma Watson fan. Sunday I made a journey to Ben’s Chili Bowl. WOW! It was by far the best food I have had in DC. I had a chili dog and chili cheese fries. I loved it, and so did my wallet!
This week I worked on building a new Spectroscope. When built the same way, I had the exact same issue as last week with the spectra overlapping. I tweaked it a bit and angled the CD, used as diffraction grating and ‘wa-lah!’, it works! I noted when angling the CD 15 degrees in the direction of the eye piece the spectra separate and it looks the way it should. I made modifications to my worksheets and had a few of the other interns proof-read my work. In addition to building an identical version of my first spectroscope I worked on a different type that uses a cereal box instead of a larger box. This one worked well the first time without any modifications.
The AIP Development Board met Thursday and I was able to speak to Dr. Katharine Gebbie with NIST. Her list of accomplishments is astonishing. The reception was lovely. Tonight, Friday, we are meeting with the SPS Executive Committee; we are having dinner, and going toThe Capitol Steps show tonight.
Life in the dorm has been a lot of fun! Ro, Darren, Caleb, Nicole, and I bought a Groupon ticket to a Pirate Ship ride on the Potomac. It was a blast, despite the 90 degree weather. When I was planning my summer in DC I made a list of all the traveling I wanted to do on the weekends. I wanted to make a trip to New York, Hershey, PA, Baltimore and a few other places. Now, it has been a full month and I haven’t made it out of the city yet! There is so much to do in DC it’s unreal.
Week 3: I Broke Physics
Time is flying by here in DC. It feels like there are not even 24 hours in a day. The National Symphony Orchestra made me feel cultured. It was fun to get dressed up and go out as a complete group. My favorite part of the symphony was the final piece Symphony No. 2, “A London Symphony”. It was very pretty. The conductor, Matthew Halls, was great! He was interesting to watch; it made me recognize that he must know the part of every instrumentalist, which is incredibly impressive.
I’ve been working on spectroscopy demonstrations this week. My task: make a spectroscope out of a cardboard box, paper towel roll, two razor blades, and a CD-WR as the diffraction grating. The results were a bit bizarre; the spectrum is rearranged. My first thought was that the red end of the first-order spectrum and the blue end of the second-order spectrum were overlapping. However, I was using a small white LED light, and when using diffraction grating glasses with 500 lines/mm there is a large gap between spectra. A CD has a higher diffraction grating with up to 625 lines/mm; therefore, it should be better defined, not smashed together. Finishing up the week, it is my goal to make alterations and produce a correct visible spectrum.
Tuesday we had another outreach project at an elementary school. Nicole and Caleb, the SOCK interns, are demonstrating the importance of measurement. We were with a group of 100 rambunctious third graders in a lunchroom and only an hour to get through four activities. Challenge accepted. It was astonishing how well the third graders behaved and went with the demonstrations. They were excited, extremely intelligent, and showed great teamwork even in large groups. Working with the kids was so thrilling.
I am getting some great ideas to take back to my SPS chapter at Southern Polytechnic. I hope I can bring back ideas that will help my chapter grow, and make the current members active and excited about Physics.
Week 2: Singing Acapella
Time is flying by here in DC! Often I’ve thought to myself, I can’t believe I’ve only known these people for two weeks now! It’s nice that we all, the interns, get along so well. It feels like I already have great friends here. So let us begin where I left off last week…
On Saturday morning we decided to get up and go grocery shopping. We were gone for most of the day and we decided to just hang out in the dorms that evening. Sunday we had our first outreach project at the HoCo Stem Festival at Howard Community College. Caleb and Nicole, the SOCK interns, prepared a couple of demonstrations and wrote discussions about each activity. It was a lot of fun! We left there, had dinner together and spent the rest of the day resting up.
Nicole, Darren, Caleb, Alec and I went to visit the Air and Space Museum on Monday afternoon! We had to do a quick run through before it closed but it was spectacular. We will definitely have to go back and see more! Darren and Alec are interns at NASA this summer and it was even more fun to walk through with them because they could tell us fun facts that aren’t mentioned in the museum.
The work week put me back to brainstorming for new ideas for activities for the PhysicsQuest kits. I downloaded the SpectraSnapp app and browsed the internet for ideas related to spectroscopy. It’s been a lot of fun coming up with new demonstrations and writing the instructions. Work at ACP is thrilling! I’ve had so much fun and I’ve been doing some really cool demos. The annual ACP Picnic was Wednesday. There was great food, karaoke, and an egg race. Some people even did the wobble! I didn’t join in that one, but I should have.
Thursday, I tried a new project. I get to play with some of the coolest things here! The SOCK interns are doing a neat project downstairs. I don’t want to give out too many details; I’ll let them write about it themselves.
The weather has been pretty crazy this week between heat waves, thunderstorms, and tornado warnings. Who knows what will be next. We’ve spent a lot of time inside this week because of the weather. We watched Pitch Perfect, even though all of us a Friday we are planning to go to the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. Our new intern friend, Katherine, is going to join us. My roommate, Fiona, gets here on Sunday from London. I am elated to meet her. We’re already making plans for next week to go on boat tours and sing karaoke at a Chinese restaurant!
Week 1: "You're not that sly"
My friend and I drove from Georgia to Washington, D.C. and arrived mid-day Saturday. Man was it hot outside! I thought, coming from the south, that it would be a nice cool spring day in Washington, but was I wrong. My friend Kait helped me unpack and fix up my dorm with an assortment of Christmas lights in all colors. We are staying in the International Hall of George Washington University this summer, which is right in the middle of the city. My friend and I went shopping for food and a few things I needed for the dorm, then we went out to eat at Ruby Tuesday. When we came back to the dorm we met Ro, Darren, Alec and Caleb and decided to walk out to the Washington Monument with them. It is so great to be in walking distance of so much! My friend left the next morning, and I met up with another friend who lives locally for breakfast in Old Town Alexandria at a cute little restaurant with excellent food, La Madeleine. We went to Chinatown in DC for lunch and dinner and to a concert at The Black Cat that evening. Who knew we could pack so much into one day!
Monday we had orientation at the American Center for Physics (ACP). All of the interns left from the dorms together at 7:40 to walk to the Metro station. Orientation went well; we were introduced to everyone and they told us a little about themselves. We had lunch with Dr. John Mather, the 2006 physics Nobel Laureate. It was great! He was interested our backgrounds and what we had on our minds. He was fascinating and it really made the orientation special. Later, we were split up and went off to work! We met up after work to go out to eat as a group at Baja Fresh, and it was delicious.
Tuesday was our first full day on the job. I began the day by working with Caleb and Nicole on a laser sound demo for an exciting outreach that is planned for this Sunday. I met my mentor, Becky Thompson, who was enthusiastic about PhysicsQuest and we talked about our first project goals. The theme for this year’s kit is Quantum Mechanics. Luckily, I haven’t taken a Quantum class in college, so everything I am studying here is exciting to learn about for the first time. I am working on extension activities to demonstrate the Photoelectric Effect. Most of the day I spent doing research and reading, but at the end of the day I was able to try out making a glow jar with the inside of a highlighter pen and a UV light.
Wednesday I researched ideas for the kits including: using fluorescent and phosphorescent paint to demonstrate the differences in required energy for materials to absorb light and re-emit it at a longer wavelength in the visible spectrum, building a small solar cell from household materials, and designing glow jars with phosphorescent paint.
On Thursday Becky went to buy supplies to try some of the ideas. It is so much fun working on the designs and examining which ideas would work the best for the extension activities. We left work early to attend an Einstein Fellowship Poster Session at the Russell Senate Office in DC. The members were very interesting and we made a few connections and grabbed a few business cards. It was raining in the evening and we spent it moving from room to room hanging out in the dorms and laughing at funny videos.
Friday was another day of experimenting all day with all the supplies I received yesterday. I couldn’t imagine having a better summer job! This has been such an amazing first week and I am learning so much! It is nice to be with other interns who have the same interests and want to go out and explore the city together. We have been out almost every night this week walking around DC and finding nice, local places to eat. Too often we stay out late and regret it the next morning, promising to go to sleep earlier the next night.
So far we’ve established a regular routine of getting up and walking to the Metro, having lunch, coming home, and all going out to eat together as a group. It has been so much fun meeting new people and exploring the city. All anxiety has been expelled and I can see that this summer is going to pass much too fast.