Week 1: "You're not that sly"

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Friday, June 7, 2013


Jamie Garrett

My friend and I drove from Georgia to Washington, D.C. and arrived mid-day Saturday. Man was it hot outside! I thought, coming from the south, that it would be a nice cool spring day in Washington, but was I wrong. My friend Kait helped me unpack and fix up my dorm with an assortment of Christmas lights in all colors. We are staying in the International Hall of George Washington University this summer, which is right in the middle of the city. My friend and I went shopping for food and a few things I needed for the dorm, then we went out to eat at Ruby Tuesday. When we came back to the dorm we met Ro, Darren, Alec and Caleb and decided to walk out to the Washington Monument with them. It is so great to be in walking distance of so much! My friend left the next morning, and I met up with another friend who lives locally for breakfast in Old Town Alexandria at a cute little restaurant with excellent food, La Madeleine. We went to Chinatown in DC for lunch and dinner and to a concert at The Black Cat that evening. Who knew we could pack so much into one day!

Monday we had orientation at the American Center for Physics (ACP). All of the interns left from the dorms together at 7:40 to walk to the Metro station. Orientation went well; we were introduced to everyone and they told us a little about themselves. We had lunch with Dr. John Mather, the 2006 physics Nobel Laureate. It was great! He was interested our backgrounds and what we had on our minds. He was fascinating and it really made the orientation special. Later, we were split up and went off to work! We met up after work to go out to eat as a group at Baja Fresh, and it was delicious.

Tuesday was our first full day on the job. I began the day by working with Caleb and Nicole on a laser sound demo for an exciting outreach that is planned for this Sunday. I met my mentor, Becky Thompson, who was enthusiastic about PhysicsQuest and we talked about our first project goals. The theme for this year’s kit is Quantum Mechanics. Luckily, I haven’t taken a Quantum class in college, so everything I am studying here is exciting to learn about for the first time. I am working on extension activities to demonstrate the Photoelectric Effect. Most of the day I spent doing research and reading, but at the end of the day I was able to try out making a glow jar with the inside of a highlighter pen and a UV light.

Wednesday I researched ideas for the kits including: using fluorescent and phosphorescent paint to demonstrate the differences in required energy for materials to absorb light and re-emit it at a longer wavelength in the visible spectrum, building a small solar cell from household materials, and designing glow jars with phosphorescent paint.

On Thursday Becky went to buy supplies to try some of the ideas. It is so much fun working on the designs and examining which ideas would work the best for the extension activities. We left work early to attend an Einstein Fellowship Poster Session at the Russell Senate Office in DC. The members were very interesting and we made a few connections and grabbed a few business cards. It was raining in the evening and we spent it moving from room to room hanging out in the dorms and laughing at funny videos.

Friday was another day of experimenting all day with all the supplies I received yesterday. I couldn’t imagine having a better summer job! This has been such an amazing first week and I am learning so much! It is nice to be with other interns who have the same interests and want to go out and explore the city together. We have been out almost every night this week walking around DC and finding nice, local places to eat. Too often we stay out late and regret it the next morning, promising to go to sleep earlier the next night.

So far we’ve established a regular routine of getting up and walking to the Metro, having lunch, coming home, and all going out to eat together as a group. It has been so much fun meeting new people and exploring the city. All anxiety has been expelled and I can see that this summer is going to pass much too fast.

Jamie Garrett