Week 2: Getting into the groove of things

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Sunday, June 8, 2014


Mark Sellers

So, it's been a full week at SPS and things are going very well. I think I've made a good transition back into the working environment. Friday was spent on brainstorming more demonstration ideas, as well as meeting Dr. Kraig Wheeler of the American Crystallographic Association at a meeting. I talked to Dr. Wheeler about my project and mentioned that crystallography was going to be a big part of it. He mentioned that he received a kit from the ACA and invited me, Kearns, and Toni to see it! Talk about serendipity. We definitely got some good ideas from that on how to present the subject of crystallography using legos.

The weekend went by very quickly. On Saturday, we visited the Freer gallery and saw the changing of the guard at Arlington National Cemetery. The visit to Arlington was definitely a humbling experience; you don't realize how many soldiers have died until you walk by the fields of ordered tombstones. On Sunday, the group broke into two groups to compete in the Washington Post Hunt. My group consisted of Stephen, Kirsten, Jake, and Ben, while the other group had Ashley, Kelby, Kearns, and Nick. Our team managed to correctly solve all 5 of the riddles (defeating the other team, booyah!) but the 9 of us were unable to collectively solve the final puzzle. It was still really fun though! Later that night, all of the interns got together at Toni's house for a barbecue and socializing.

Testing out the speaker with Toni and KearnsThis week has mainly been about networking, finishing our brainstorming for the SOCK, ordering parts, and testing out demonstrations. Hopefully we will be including a really cool demonstration that uses a laser and solar panel to power a little speaker!

On Thursday, Ashley escorted Kearns, myself, and Caleb to the Rayburn House Office Building for the Toshiba ExploraVision science fair. The fair focuses on envisioning innovative technologies that could emerge 20 years into the future. Some of the projects involved creating a new artificial kidney, a battery powered by the human body, and a mechanism to help cool off the interior of a dangerously hot car. The students were quite savvy and creative with each of their projects! It was interesting for me as well, since I'm already seeing the next generation of scientists; and it made me feel old too.

On Friday, we got to have lunch and dinner with the SPS Executive Committee and I met Dr. Earl Blodgett who had the same PhD advisor at Washington University as my mentor at Rhodes! Definitely a small world! Afterwards, we went to the Astronomy Festival on the National Mall and explored the monuments at night. We event got to climb on the Einstein statue for a group picture. On Sunday, the interns headed out to the Howard County STEM Festival, where we presented four demonstrations--lasers vs LEDs, modelling spacetime, balancing rods, and vortex cannons. We had about 100 to 200 students and parents come through to see our demonstrations and they got to keep a pair of diffraction grating glasses as a souvenir!

Next week I hope to have a working draft of the SOCK completed, since we will be visiting a group of 3rd graders sometime during the week of June 16th. Time is seriously going fast!

Mark Sellers