Week 3: The Doppler Effect isn't the Only Thing Shifting

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Friday, June 26, 2015


Shauna LeFebvre

Welcome back to the Chronicles of a SPS Intern! This past week started slow with nothing much happening on Monday.  Hannah and I have been working diligently on the SOCK manual.  In the afternoon we met with Kendra, Courtney, and Sean to get constructive criticism on our work so far.  Our mentors gave us wonderful feedback, and we spent the much of the rest of the week finishing up our first draft. 

The partially assembled Doppler ballOn Tuesday we went to Radio Shack to get materials for the demo I was writing up for the Doppler Effect.  I was particularly excited for this because I actually got to build something, as simple as it was.  The demo for the Doppler Effect is basically a home-made Doppler ball.  A Doppler ball is just a ball (gasp! Who would have thought that?) that has a buzzer or other noisemaker inside.  The buzzer only emits a single tone.  The ball is attached to a string so you can swing the ball in a circle.  You can hear the pitch of the buzzer change.  But Shauna, you just said the buzzer only emits a single tone!  Why yes, I did.  However, the motion of the buzzer affects the frequency of the sound waves, which changes what pitch we hear.  That’s the Doppler Effect for you.  

And if that little digression wasn’t nerdy enough for you, later Tuesday night Aman, Connor, and I went to a weekly Science Night competition.  It was part trivia and part building competition.  That week we had to build a boat that could hold as many marbles as possible out of 2 paper cups, aluminum foil, a skewer, a bendy straw, duct tape, and a paper drink umbrella.  We didn’t win the trivia or the competition (we did come in second for the competition, though), but we did win best team name.  Team Zero Kelvin: Because There’s Nothing Cooler will take the small victories where we can get them.

Nationals BallparkOn Wednesday we continued work on the manual.  We also went outside and tried out the Doppler ball.  We had to go outside to test that demo, because the buzzer sounds too much like an annoying fire alarm.  The good part is that it works!  We just want to experiment with different materials before we finalize it in the manual.  That night some of the interns went to a Nationals game for Connor’s birthday.  It was great getting to hang with people who don’t work at ACP because I rarely get to see them during the week. 

On Thursday I went to NIST to meet the mentor I will be working with when I start working there next week.  Kendra drove me to NIST, and then we met up with the NIST interns, Veronica and Teresa, to have lunch with my NIST mentor, Kate.  After lunch Kate gave me a tour of the NIST campus so I knew where I was going when I get there next Tuesday. 

I’m excited to be at NIST next week!  I will be helping with NIST’s Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers.  This is a two week work shop for teachers to meet with NIST scientists and engineers to learn about how scientific research is being performed and how to integrate it into their classrooms.  The teachers who participate also get a bunch of helpful materials to present demos and lessons to their classes.  Hannah and I will even get a chance to present some demos from the SOCK to the teachers.  We will be able to get feedback from the teachers and they will get ideas for their classes, so it’s a win-win situation!  I’m looking forward to meeting with the teachers and being able to help them stimulate an interest in STEM in their students.  Tune in next week to hear all about our preparations for the workshop! 

P.S. I just heard the wonderful news that the Supreme Court ruled gay marrage legal in all 50 states! #LoveWins!

Shauna LeFebvre