Final Reflection: The end of an extraordinary summer

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Friday, September 4, 2015


Brean Prefontaine

People often say that it is easy to get wrapped up in life events and forget to take a moment to reflect. I can certainly agree! The end of summer brought an end to the SPS internship and a whole new set of things to tackle (like moving into a new house and the start of another term of classes). So, it has been awhile since I have sat down and thought about the ending of the internship and having to pass the project along to someone else.

Last time we left off, I was trying to tackle to project from an organizational standpoint. At this point in the summer I had less than two weeks left and I knew that women and African American lesson plans would not be finished. This meant that the entire project would have to be passed on to another intern so that it can be finished. At the start of the tenth and final week of the internship, I made a plan to expand upon and improve the document that was meant to guide incoming interns. Thinking back on how I felt at the beginning of the summer, I knew that this document had to be turned into a guide book of sorts for the project. I was lost at the beginning of the summer and since then the summer 2015 intern team has added more content to the project so it became increasingly complicated to navigate through the project. I decided that I would start out the “guide book” with a section simply explaining how to access the project and find important documents that were added this summer. I also added in an explanation of the teacher’s workshop held over the summer and how to access the feedback that was given during that time. So, really this last week was just all about cleaning up the last missing pieces of the project and putting it all in words for the next intern. My goal was to simply make the project understandable to anyone that wanted to work on it.

On the last day of work at ACP, the SPS staff members took Shauna and I out to lunch at a neat restaurant close to ACP. I thought that this was the perfect way to spend our last day! It was so nice to just sit and talk to the SPS staff about what our plans are after the end of the internship.

As I sit here back in Philadelphia, I am thinking about what a crazy and unforgettable summer it has been. I am so thankful for all of the opportunities that I was presented with this summer. Working at ACP was definitely a really unique experience because it was not the research or academic environment that I am familiar with. I am glad that I was able to experience what it would be like working with a science society and I this opportunity allowed me to interact with various people from different backgrounds. Being able to talk to and interact with people who are not specifically physicists has allowed me to learn so many new and different things. I thoroughly enjoyed working with Dr. Good in the AIP Center for History of Physics during the summer because looking at physics through a historical perspective is something that I would not have encountered in any other setting. Through working on the lesson plans all summer long, I learned about many unsung heroes that worked tirelessly to develop physics. I think that one of the most important things for me, was realizing that all of these people that I spent time reading about and researching were relatable and inspired me to continue on with physics.

I am also extremely thankful for the opportunity to live in Washington, DC through this internship program. Not only was I able to experience the culture and history of the district, but I was also able to make some lifelong memories with the other interns. All of the workplace tours (going to NIST, NASA, and the Hill) were definitely some of my favorite days this summer. One thing that people always tell physics students is that there are many different career opportunities with a physics degree. This is great, but this also means that there are so many different options to learn about. This summer, even though I was only working on one project, I was able to learn about many different opportunities within physics through the tours. It was great to see all of the different research going on at NASA and NIST as well as learning about how physics fits into politics.

Overall, I had an exceptional summer! I would recommend the SPS internship to anyone and I am looking forward to presenting my work at a conference sometime this year.

Brean Prefontaine