Week 1: Let the Craziness Begin

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Friday, June 14, 2013


Christine O'Donnell

At the risk of repeating all my fellow interns, it’s been one crazy week.

Monday’s orientation tested our limits for how much information we could retain in one day. We met lots of new people and tried to learn the names attached to them, and we were exposed to the alphabet soup of abbreviations in DC (as one person commented, it’s lots of “TLA’s” – i.e., three-letter acronyms). The day ended with a nice long chat with my mentors (Beth Cunningham and Jack Hehn) about all the opportunities and possibilities I have for the summer. It’s overwhelming how much there is to do!

And so, after receiving lots of information, I’ve spent most of this week going back to square one. My main project is to develop advocacy strategies and resources for the American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT), and I quickly realized the most basic resource someone would need is a sort of “Advocacy 101” to learn how to advocate well. Additionally, working on it allowed me to organize my own thoughts and think through the steps I’ll need to take to create other resources as well as figure out what resources are needed.

That’s not to say this week was without lots of excitement too! Orientation included lunch with Dr. John Mather, a Nobel laureate. The next day came with a full House committee hearing on a proposal to reorganize federal STEM education programs (a good summary of the hearing is onScienceInsider from AAAS). We watched a webcast of the hearing, and it was intriguing to see what questions each committee member asked as well as how members from both sides of the aisle were critical of the plan. Thursday we went to a poster session by the Einstein fellows, a select group of K-12 STEM educators who spent a year working in DC. Besides taking photos with Einstein, I had a good time talking to the fellows. A few even had connections with my high school, and they all had really interesting experiences. I’m planning on scheduling lunches with a few of the fellows to learn more.

With the first week coming to a close, I’m looking forward to all the other crazy weeks coming up. It’s going to be a busy summer, but I already know I’m going to love every minute of it.

Christine O'Donnell