Week 10 and Then Some

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Tuesday, September 6, 2016


Samantha Spytek

In the end I spent 100,800 minutes, which is the same as 6,048,000 seconds as an SPS intern. Since the end of the program, I have spent roughly 30,240 minutes or 1,814,400 seconds as a former SPS intern. Sad face =( 

But the summer was a blast, and having had such a great experience, it's hard to be too sad in the end. I met many wonderful people, made some great connections and helped others make some cool connections too. I now feel like I really am part of a physics community that will go on after I leave school, which I find very comforting. It means that no matter where I go, or what I do with myself, I'll always have a physics family somewhere out there. I've avoided writing this 'last reflection post' because I knew it would make me confront the sadness I've felt since leaving, but was too exhausted to really express at the end of the last day due to some late night corrections that had to be made to the slide show... more on that in a sec. By the time I was rested, the moment was gone and it just felt wierd to cry and be mopey while out at a waterpark with my family. I mean, I was in a wave pool, how wierd would that have been? As you can tell, I'm great at avoiding confrontation. 

So... the last week. What's the best way to say it couldn't have ended better? I guess that's it. So it couldn't have ended better. We finished uploading everything, we wrote the little introduction to the site, we made an acknowledgements page, and we were just slam dunking everything. It was like there was a crazy amount to do, and then all of a sudden it was gone. We finished up with a day to spare. It was glorious. On that last full day of actual work, Victoria and I took our time, got lunch out, and made our powerpoint. We also prepared for the tour we were to give the next day. I discovered a book called The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua, which I promptly went home an bought. If every you want a fun comic book that is also educational, read this one. It's *The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer. Here's the 22nd page of it:

Page 22 of The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua

So when everything was wrapped up and come to a close, all that was left was to present on Friday... Except I was seduced by the allure of watching a movie and forgot that I had to finish making corrections to my powerpoint and then transfer it from google slides onto a memory stick... I might or might not have been up rather late the night before my final presentation... OK, let's just go with I might have been up really late. This of course was not ideal. It's just a good thing that nerves are great at waking me up and keeping me awake all through whatever nerve-wracking ordeal I'm putting myself through. Of course it really wasn't that bad. 

I had had some trouble during the dress rehearsal the previous day because my audience was not those who I was really speaking for, and I hadn't really practiced with a strict timer before. But I managed to time it almost perfectly when it mattered. I also got a good several laughs out of my audience as well, which is always a plus. I consider it an extra hard feat considering I was the last speaker before the break, and at that point I know I would have been itching to get out of my chair, so working with that mentality I think really helped me make their time better spent. I think it was also good practice for teaching high schoolers, since for them to really learn they need to pay attention, and grabbing and maintaining it is one of the hardest jobs a teacher can have. I also think it could be argued that grabbing and maintaining the attention of a bunch of adults who haven't had to do studenting in a while is almost more impressive than grabbing students attention. At least the students are used to sitting quietly and listening, adults aren't. 

And, not to toot my own horn (well, OK yes to toot my own horn, I mean who am I kidding?) I gave a really good talk. I'm a pretty good orator, and I have lots of practice not looking at my slides and reading my audience, but I really knocked this one out of the park. I knew my actual performance was going to be better than my practice, but dang I was good. I still feel a swell of pride in myself when I think about it. Maybe that's a bit egotistical, but hey, I did a good job, and taking pride in your work is one of the most beneficial things you can do in life, for yourself and those you serve.... anyway, I'll step off my soapbox now. Afterwards, we had many pictures taken and some last forms were filled out and presents were presented. We were each given books, and I received Leonardo's Brain by Leonard Shlain. It fit perfectly =) and I've been enjoying reading it. 

It was great spending a summer with these people:

Group Photo from the First Day of the Internship

They're all wonderful and I'm glad I got to know them. This is a group photo from the first day of the internship. I was a nervous wreck, and also experiencing lots of post nasal drip - remember that? Wasn't that a lovely entrance? 

Since the end of the program, I spent a week preparing for school, and two weeks in school so far (plus of couple of days). It's been back to normal for me, so I don't feel that wierd, but every now and then something will happen and I'll think of my summer and I'll miss my apartment, despite the street I walked down every day to get to the metro (Connecticut Ave) or the psyduck that was always there to welcome me at the College Park metro stop when I played Pokemon Go on my way to work. I miss my roommate, Maria, who was fantastic to live with. I miss my desk with my two monitors - I've been demoted back to my regular single monitor here at school... =( I miss my coworkers, Victoria, Stephen and Lance. We really were a great team. And I miss AIP. I felt like I found a home there, despite the brief period. I could see myself walking back into the building to work again any day. I don't think I can express in words how meaningful my time at AIP was. And let's be honest, if I tried this post would be even longer than it already is, and I'm not convinced anyone will really read this far down anyway - just kidding... mostly ;-) So with that in mind, I will say goodbye for now. _\\// and may you live long and prosper! And the force be with you! And... physics is phun. OK, I'll go now. 

Samantha Spytek