Scratching the Surface -- Week 5

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Saturday, July 1, 2017


Justine Boecker

I know I said last week went quickly, but it was nothing compared to this week. I didn’t even had time to blink and the week was gone. I only spent one day in the office, Monday, and, on that day, I felt like I didn’t even get much done. Tuesday and Wednesday were spent at a workshop at the National Academies on NGSS aligned curriculum. NGSS stands for the Next Generation Science Standards. They are those that are endorsed at the federal level. However, not all states have adopted them. Minnesota is one that has not so I actually don’t have an extensive amount of experience with them. At the workshop, it was interesting to see the standards and teaching in general from the perspective of a curriculum developer. It seems to be a complicated process all that goes into developing and marketing curriculum for school districts. There is a side of creating a quality product and a side of it actually being a product that needs to be sold to make money. It got a glimpse into all those different angles.

 On Thursday, I enjoyed a tour of the Capitol with all SPS interns. We got to sit in on a hearing in the house about in-space propulsion. The highlight was when Senator Bera began his statement by acknowledging all the Society of Physics Students interns in the room and had us all stand up. If you watch the video (29:30) you will see me in the upper left corner when the  camera is on us. After that recognition, we got to hear several people from NASA, experts in the subject, talk about the importance of electric propulsion in space. After spending some time in the House buildings, we moved on to the Senate buildings where we were able to go into a hearing room and all sit at the senators’ seats. We have a pretty great picture. *See below

 Finally, on Thursday and Friday I was invited to three meetings with staff in senators’ offices. In the offices of Senator Feinstein, Senator Durbin, and Senator Merkley, I was able to observe and contribute to a discussion on the importance of the Albert Einstein Fellowship (mentioned in my previous post). Everything to do with advocating for this fellowship is continuing to be such a valuable experience for me to see how we can make our voices heard in the government, and I am continuing to learn more about how our government functions.

 Towards the end of the day on Friday, I was on a call with the people that I met with last week with 100kin10 project. They started planning their next meeting, and it is going to be after I am done. I can’t believe that my experience here in DC is half over. I have already learned more than I ever expected but somehow feel like I have barely scratched the surface. I have tipped my toes in the water, and I am going to be pulled out before I can do a cannonball into the pool.

 Looking forward, I will be spending much of the next month not in Washington. I will begin my Miami adventure the second week of July working with a grant project dealing with women in physics. It then have a day and half back in DC before I leave for Cincinnati for the AAPT summer meeting. It is a busy month but sure to be another full of learning and growth.

Future senators
Space Committee hearing room
Found on Al Franken's wall
Capitol Hill

Justine Boecker