Final Reflections: The Summer in Review

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Monday, September 28, 2015


Patrick Mangan

When I first found out that I was accepted for this internship and that I would be spending the summer in Washington D.C., I made it my goal to be on a first name basis with Barack and Michelle Obama. And while I didn’t come anywhere close to achieving this, I still could not be happier that I went. This summer was an insanely good experience for me. I met a lot of great people, lived in a completely new environment, had a lot of unforgettable experiences, and did a lot of work that I think could really benefit the education system in America.

I am very grateful that SPS gave me the opportunity to get what is in my opinion one of the best internships you can get. I got to work with the American Association of Physics Teachers, which is needless to say a very important and influential group in physics education. As a physics teacher, I will be working with AAPT and the materials they provide to physics teachers throughout my career. And as their summer intern in 2015, I played a major role in developing some of these materials. The contact network of STEM-focused high school in America, while not yet finished, will be a great resource to spread innovative physics teaching strategies to school districts all across the U.S., and my concept map of NGSS physics standards will serve as an effective tool for teachers and districts to implement the NGSS into their curricula.

Life in general in D.C. with the other interns was another great experience. I got to meet 11 other people with bright futures and a lot of ambition. The people I spent my summer with will go on to contribute greatly to science, in a multitude of ways. And not only that, but they were all cool people that were easy to chill with. We all had a lot in common and after spending the summer together, fending for ourselves in a big city, we all had bonded by the end of the summer and some lasting friendships were made. Dare I say, we became “bros”.

D.C. itself really surprised me. I never thought of myself as much of a city person, but I really started to get used to it. I’m really glad I had that experience, because being in that different of an environment can really help you open your eyes to the world around you. Everything about it was so different than where I come from. Whether is the population density, the majority political views, the metro system, or literally everything except McDonald’s cheeseburgers being over twice as expensive as they are back home, experiencing culture shock can really tell you a lot about yourself. Being there made me feel motivated, important, and like someone who will go on to be a great teacher.

And finally, I want to talk about the people in charge of the motley crew of interns that we were. Sean, Courtney, and Kendra were great mentors throughout the whole thing. They gave us a huge amount of support for our respective jobs. And the accommodations they had set up for us (i.e. living situation, stipends, travel expenses covered, etc.) were incredible. I really felt quite pampered, considering many people’s internships provide nothing of that sort for them. They are great people and not only are they really good at what they do, but they truly enjoy it as well. Thank you guys for a great summer.

SPS Interns after presentations

Patrick Mangan