Week 4: Adventures in DC and Beyond

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Thursday, July 2, 2015


Brean Prefontaine

Connor, Aman, Max, and myself all headed up to the city of brotherly love this Saturday! Since they had all never been to Philadelphia, my boyfriend and I had to chance to show them around. We started off on Drexel’s campus for a delicious breakfast at Sabrina’s Cafe (the best breakfast in University City in my opinion!) and everyone seemed to really enjoy their food. Slightly blurry picture of everyone at Sabrina's Cafe in PhiladelphiaAfter eating all that we could, we decided to take the SEPTA (we have been spoiled here in DC with nice public transportation) to 2nd street and walk along the waterfront. This weekend was the tall ship festival being held along the Delaware River on both the Philadelphia and Camden side. The highlight of the festival was seeing the USCGC Eagle (even though we did not go on it because the line was ridiculously long). However, I was slightly disappointed to not see the world’s largest rubber duck. There had been multiple news articles explaining that the world’s largest rubber duck was supposed to be at the tall ships festival. Later I found out that the pontoon the buck sits on had several holes in it and they had to take her out of the water for repairs. Such a shame!

Hendrik and I at the Tall Ships festival in Philadelphia

After the tall ship festival, we headed over to old city to look at some of the historical attractions. Our first stop was the Chemical Heritage Museum. While I have seen this building many times, I have never actually stopped in here. At the recommendation of Dr. Good (our mentor) we decided to give this museum a try. It turns out, this was really neat! They had permanent exhibits about some of the major advances in chemistry and had many different instruments on display. There was also a separate room in the museum for rotating exhibits. This weekend we found an exhibit about ancient alchemy texts. There were many journals and books written by alchemists along with some instruments that would have been used displayed. It was wall very neat! After spending a fre hours in this museum, we decided to move on. Luckily we were right across the street from Carpenter’s Hall. While I have been here before, it is still pretty nifty to head back to the place where the First Continental Congress in 1774 met. Before moving to the east coast, I had only seen all of these historical sites in textbooks. Now I get to share them with the other interns!

After Carpenter's Hall we moved on to see the main attraction- Independence Hall. It had been raining off and on all day but this was when the rain started to pick up a bit. We did not realize that we needed tickets to go on the tour of Independence Hall, but apparently we had really good luck and impeccable timing. As soon as we walked up, the park rangers started taking people without tickets because the tour was not yet full. We were the last group to get in! We sat down and a park ranger started his spiel about Independence Hall. Let me tell you, this park ranger should have been a history teacher. This was the most enthusiastic and engaging story of the start of the Revolutionary War that I have ever heard. He continued his story through every room of Independence Hall and we were informed that we were literally standing in the birth place of our nation. Again, pretty nifty!

By the time the tour ended, everyone was ready for lunch. So, what do you eat for lunch while in Philadelphia? A cheesesteak of course! Even though it was raining, we headed off to South Street to have cheesesteaks at Jim’s Steaks. By now it was raining steadily and to our dismay, the line was out the door and wrapped around the corner to get into Jim’s. Oh well, a good cheesesteak is worth it! So we waited. And waited. Until finally, it was cheesesteak time! And, well, they were pretty good!

After we were all full and ready to go again, we decided to head back to Old City to try and see the liberty bell. All the interns soaking wet but finally by the liberty bellEarlier the line was wrapped around the building to see it even though it was raining. We were hoping that the line would be shorter since it was really raining. This was not case, so we did what anyone would do. We just looked at the liberty bell through the window. We even got a picture with us sort close the liberty bell! However, now that we were soaked it was time to head home. And thus our trek back to DC started.

My boyfriend, Hendrik, came back with us to spend Sunday in DC. On Sunday morning, Hendrik and I headed to the zoo and spend hours looking at all the animal. Later in the evening we went down to the mall and check out the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. The theme was Peru and there were many exhibits showing cultural aspects of Peru. One of my favorites was an exhibit showing some boats (more like canoes) made out of reeds. These are among some of the oldest known boats! We also walked over to the food section of the festival and were able to snag some passion fruit gelato. It was delicious! Since we were already on the mall, Hendrik and I decided to walk down and see all of the monuments. We stopped by the WWII memorial and Vietnam War memorial. By this time we were ready for dinner and so we headed to Smoke and Barrel in Adams Morgan. This seemed like a pretty decent BBQ place and so we ordered a “sampler” for two. We got way more food than we had bargained for. But again, it was extremely delicious!Hendrik admiring all of the food at Smoke and Barrel

After a busy weekend, it was time to get back to work on Monday. However, no work was actually done on Monday because of the tour at ACP (American Center for Physics). We started off the tour with breakfast and a demonstration of the SOCK activities by Hannah and Shauna. Then we headed up to the third floor for the Center for History tour. Connor and I started off our tour with an explanation of our project, a sample lesson plan, and just generally showing everyone our desks. Then we headed to the library to talk about some of the books that have been essential in our lesson plans and about a microfilm containing once top secret documents from the Manhattan Project. After this stop in the reading room, we headed up to the book stacks and everyone was able to poke around at some of the books in the Niels Bohr library. Melanie was a huge help during this tour because she filled in all of the gaps with information about the catalogs and about the history of the library. After the library, we headed back down to the second floor and stopped in at the archives. I was happy to see that everyone was very excited about the mini exhibit that Connor and I had set up in the processing room! We had many great questions and everyone seemed to enjoy looking at the artifacts (Feynman's Calculus notebook was a hit!). Overall, our tour went great and everyone seemed to have a good time!

We were also busy for the rest of the day. We had lunch with some executives in the building and then it was off to the fifth floor for Pat’s AAPT tour. After talking to some people from AAPT and learning about what Pat is working on, Aman took some time to tell us more about APS and her work. We were also able to head down to APS and collect some free Spectra comic books.

The rest of the week was fairly normal even though we have a short week (Friday is considered a holiday because of the fourth of July). I continued to work on my lesson plan dealing with antinepotism laws. Connor and I also cleaned up the processing room in the archives and refiled all of the artifacts that we had pulled out for the tour. Wednesday consisted of a long trip to Ikea for lunch (it is such an adventure to get there) and a staff meeting with the library and history center staff. Connor and I were able to share a little about our work with the 5E model in our lesson plans. Thursday I realized the struggles of commuting on the red line when there are delays in the metro system. I feel as though I have learned another life lesson. Life lesson #4: Always be aggressive when trying to get on packed metro trains in DC because if you are not, you will end up standing on the platform for 45 minutes and watching 5 trains go by without out. Just woman up and push your way in! I also headed back up to Philadelphia on Thursday evening to celebrate the fourth of July with Hendrik and some friends from school. I am looking forward to a relaxing long weekend and to celebrating the fourth of July with a nice fireworks show! Stay tuned for more life lessons!


Brean Prefontaine