Final Reflections

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Sunday, September 4, 2016


Victoria DiTomasso

As I’m getting settled into the new school year, it’s hard to miss the influence that this summer has had on me. For starters, my dorm room is adorned with mementos from DC; my face photo shopped into an astronaut suit from the Astronomy on the Mall outreach event, my wristband from our trip to Lucky Strike with the executive committee of SPS, a collection of books left behind by my roommates who couldn’t fit them in their suitcases, not to mention my wall that is half covered with images torn from books that I got at NIST and NASA.

My dorm wall, decorated with images from NASA and NIST

Beyond the keepsakes, my day-to-day activities are constant reminders of the impact of this summer. I’ve exchanged emails with the SPS Observer team about the article I wrote on the World Science Festival after interviewing Brian Greene. Since getting home, I’ve interviewed another remarkable educator, Lauren Zarandona, a high school math teacher in Mississippi and a former SPS intern who just won the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. I’m drafting an article about her for Sigma Pi Sigma’s publication, Radiations magazine. I’m also working on making the SPS chapter at my school active again, and I just booked plane tickets to go to California for PhysCon to present my summer’s work. None of those things would have been possible if I hadn’t been an SPS intern this summer.

If I were to give a piece of advice to a future SPS intern, it would be to buy into the whole experience of the summer. Explore DC, get to know the other interns, take advantage of the opportunities and activities that SPS sets up for you. Although I learned a lot about the history of science that I may never have learned otherwise and I am extremely proud of what I and the other AIP History interns accomplished, it was the adventures that I had outside of my job that made my summer what it was. Week 5, at the Women’s Policy, Inc STEM Fair, I met a microbiologist who changed my view of graduate school and solidified my desire to pursue a PhD. Week 7, I remembered what a joy it is to teach science to people who are excited to learn when we put on a demo fair for the NIST Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers. During week 9, I visited Carnegie DTM and overcame my own nerves by presenting my astronomy research to professionals in the field. I am coming out of this summer with a better idea of the education and career I would like to pursue, along with the confidence and support system to make it happen.

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank some of the people that made this summer so amazing. Thank you to Greg, Lance, Stephen, everyone at the AIP Center for the History of Physics and at the Niels Bohr Library and Archives, and, of course, Sam, for working with me. Thank you to everyone at SPS, especially Courtney and Brad for being endlessly energetic and caring so much about us interns. Shout out to Charna for working with me on the World Science Festival article (she’s part of the longest email thread I’ve ever had – 55 emails). Finally, thank you so much to the other interns, especially my roommates from apartment 304. You guys are awesome, I’m really glad that I got to live with such incredible people. I can’t wait to see where everyone goes in life because I know that you’ll all do great things. Thank you SPS and thank you DC for an excellent summer, I wouldn’t change a thing.

Victoria DiTomasso