Week 4: Making the Most of the Rain

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Sunday, June 25, 2023


Jenna Tempkin

Another week, another blog!! Unfortunately the weather was not in our favor this week. It was cold and rainy almost every day, but I think I made the most of it. Here is what I did in week 4!

All of the interns had off on Monday due to the Juneteenth holiday. Since we had some extra time on our hands, we had an Italian themed potluck dinner. I can’t cook super well, but I was able to mix together some ingredients for a Caesar salad that was gone by the end of the night. I do however still own an entire extra bag of Caesar salad croutons. 

To start the actual work week off right I woke up to do my laundry on Tuesday, and then hopped on the APS intern check in meeting. Then I started to finalize the PhysicsQuest guidelines that I have been curating these last few weeks. My mentor and I met later to discuss them and some edits she had made. Throughout this day, and the rest of the week, I also put in a little bit of work on a presentation I will be giving at the AAPT summer meeting in around a month. Just wait a few more weeks for that adventure to Sacramento, CA! Tuesday night some of the interns went to Tonic for their jazz night, where Janessa and I split a brownie sundae. I will never pass up the opportunity to have one of those. Back at the dorms I met with Ruthie, Julia, Janessa, and MJ to watch some episodes of Heartstopper and bake cookies. 

Wednesday was quiet and the main thing I did was go over some more details for the Science Trust Workshop that I’ll be giving in less than 2 weeks. Part of this workshop is an activity where participants can practice their reflective listening skills, so we spent some time making sure I knew how to facilitate that. After that Zack, one of the people working with me on this project, stayed on zoom to tell me about the other workshops that are part of the STP program. I really liked the second workshop which discusses how identity and cultural background change the context and meaning of conversations. I have really liked learning about this project and orienting it for the intern audience. I have made a lot of changes that I think make the presentation better for the interns, and I enjoy that the APS staff are really open to all of my comments and suggestions. That night our plans sort of got changed since the concert at the Wharf was canceled because of the weather. Instead, some of us went over to Crystal City to go bowling and play arcade games at Bowlero. I probably spent a little too much money, but it ended up being a great time. Although I never was able to get a strike… 

On Thursday all of the interns went into ACP because we had our first lunch and learn with Nobel Prize winner John Mather. To be completely honest, I did not really know what he does because I am not into astronomy, but quickly I learned he was responsible for a few important telescope missions, including JWST. It was really interesting to hear about his journey, and it surprised me how incredibly humble he was. He is also from NJ so I felt connected to him for that reason. When someone asked how it felt to be someone of that status in the science world, he responded by saying that he just felt like a normal guy. Another thing he said that stuck with me was that everyone in science is always a beginner, because everything is always new and changing. That really resonated with me because taking on a new role, like this internship, is always new for the first few weeks, but then eventually you will be able to build your skill set and advance on. After finishing up lunch I stayed around ACP and did some work with other interns in the conference room. Later that evening we had a movie night and watched John Mather’s recommended movie, “Forbidden Planet.” I wasn’t paying great attention, but it was surely interesting. (Plus I can say I watched a Nobel prize winner’s favorite movie, and I think that is cool)

The weather was atrocious on Friday, so I spent a lot of it doing my work from the comfort of my bed. I was able to finish and send out the first draft of the PhysicsQuest guidelines for review! My mentor and I were really happy with the list we had created, and now we are waiting for some feedback from the teachers we had spoken to in previous weeks. I even learned how to do a mail merge in my email. At night it had finally cleared up, so a few of us did a nighttime walk through some monuments including Lincoln, Korean War, WW2, and the Einstein memorial.

We are nearing the end, but Saturday was actually the most jammed packed day of the week. It was the annual Astronomy on the Mall event, and Emily, the SOCK intern had been planning and training us for the event. It was an outreach event and SPS had three tables with physics demos, trivia, and a lot of SPS swag. My favorite demo to explain was diffraction because everyone loved getting to take the glasses home. People also really enjoyed the boomwhakers and learning about sound. Doing events like that is extremely rewarding, and it reminds me why I love to do physics! It was surprising to me how many kids and adults were intrigued. My favorite comment of the night was from someone probably a few years older than me and she said, “physics is so fun, I don’t know why I was always scared of it.” I think outreach events like that are super important for showing that physics is really fun and really cool...After wrapping up we went to check out the late-night hours of the Natural History Museum. Turns out this was a legit night at the museum event – there was a DJ, and LOTS of people. I actually randomly ran into my friend Maya from high school who I had not seen in almost 3 years because she moved out of NJ. It was crazy. We only stayed at the museum for around 15 minutes because we were exhausted and overwhelmed with the crowds. We ended up coming back to GW and hanging out for a few hours in Jaden and Devin’s room instead.  All in all, a night well spent.

Now it is Sunday and I just got back from going to the farmers’ market and grocery store. Crazily enough next week marks the halfway point of the internship. This summer is going by way too fast, but I am so lucky and happy to be here. 

 Thanks for reading! Check out some photos below and see you next week :) 


Jenna Tempkin