Sunday, June 22, 2014By:
As the summer keeps moving forward, so too does the work being done at the ACP. The work week began, much as it did last week, with returning to DC after a brief weekend reunion with my brother and the rest of our family, celebrating him being awarded both his Master's and Bachelor's degree. The group of us working on this project, including Simon, the two graduate researchers Sine and Sharina, as well as Dr. Good, had resolved at the end of last week to finish the bulk of the reading that was required for this project at least by Monday of this week. With much of the reading behind us, work could now commence on the next stage of our project: creating the lesson plans and related resource documents. This stage of the project had been in the back of our minds since the beginning of the summer, because we wanted to make sure to take note of anything important, or at least interesting, that we came across in our research that could potentially make for a lesson plan that, number one, drove home an important lesson in a classroom, and two, would keep students engaged and hopefully spark an interest in the subject matter; this is where the creative juices started to flow in this project. So as we were doing our research for the past three weeks we recorded our ideas in a document to be reviewed at a later period....this week is now that later period. When we all finally got together and sat down to discuss our ideas for potential lesson plans, the "final" list that we came up with was actually pretty impressive. In total we came up with just short of thirty different lesson plans, each one relating in some way to the study of African-Americans in physics and astronomy. In order for teachers to get the most out of these lesson plans, we also need to put together various resources that teachers can use to effectively teach the lesson plans. These include compiling handouts as well as biographies for some of the scientists that we plan on doing case studies of. All in all, it looks like we have the next few weeks of work cut out for us with putting together these resources and designing these lesson plans.
Something else that I did this week was get involved with outreach activities with my fellow interns Kearns and Mark of the Science Outreach Catalyst Kit (SOCK) project here at the ACP. This week, they were charged by the SPS director Toni, to journey out to Falls Church, Virginia to Tuckahoe Elementary School to do a few science activities with one of the SOCK themes for the year, light. Kearns and Mark went around the building asking the SPS interns if they were free to help out at the school and when they came to our office I gladly agreed to go along. So we took the metro Thursday morning out to Falls Church and met up with another AIP employee, Joe York, and made our way to the elementary school. Working with young kids in past jobs, I knew that they had the potential to get a bit rowdy, if not completely bouncing off the walls, but this class was surprisingly well behaved.....and sharp too!. So we led the class through a few activities involving measurement and finding a standard of measurement (conducted by Mark), a demonstration on how polarization works and some cool effects that are the result of it (conducted by Kearns) and a final demonstration on spectra and diffraction patterns (which I conducted). Overall it was a really great experience going to the school to show kids how cool science really is. I do have to say however, Kearns got the biggest "WOW" out of the kids that I've ever heard, and Mark should pursue a career in teaching because he did so well with it. Ha Ha Ha!