Week 3: I Broke Physics

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Friday, June 21, 2013


Jamie Garrett

Time is flying by here in DC. It feels like there are not even 24 hours in a day. The National Symphony Orchestra made me feel cultured. It was fun to get dressed up and go out as a complete group. My favorite part of the symphony was the final piece Symphony No. 2, “A London Symphony”. It was very pretty. The conductor, Matthew Halls, was great! He was interesting to watch; it made me recognize that he must know the part of every instrumentalist, which is incredibly impressive.

I’ve been working on spectroscopy demonstrations this week. My task: make a spectroscope out of a cardboard box, paper towel roll, two razor blades, and a CD-WR as the diffraction grating. The results were a bit bizarre; the spectrum is rearranged. My first thought was that the red end of the first-order spectrum and the blue end of the second-order spectrum were overlapping. However, I was using a small white LED light, and when using diffraction grating glasses with 500 lines/mm there is a large gap between spectra. A CD has a higher diffraction grating with up to 625 lines/mm; therefore, it should be better defined, not smashed together. Finishing up the week, it is my goal to make alterations and produce a correct visible spectrum.

Tuesday we had another outreach project at an elementary school. Nicole and Caleb, the SOCK interns, are demonstrating the importance of measurement. We were with a group of 100 rambunctious third graders in a lunchroom and only an hour to get through four activities. Challenge accepted. It was astonishing how well the third graders behaved and went with the demonstrations. They were excited, extremely intelligent, and showed great teamwork even in large groups. Working with the kids was so thrilling.

I am getting some great ideas to take back to my SPS chapter at Southern Polytechnic. I hope I can bring back ideas that will help my chapter grow, and make the current members active and excited about Physics.

Jamie Garrett