Week 4: Rain, Rain, Go Away

Share This:

Sunday, June 25, 2023


Devin Kodsi

!!(New Blog Section)!!

*Song of the Week*: “Achy Breaky Heart” by Billy Ray Cyrus


Rain, the symbol for a conglomeration of rebirth, foreboding, determination, etc, made quite an appearance throughout the fourth week of the internship. Unless I’m inside either reading a compelling book or watching one of my favorite movies, I’m not exactly one to admire the mood fabricated by the presence of the rain. However, I made strides to ensure the rain’s presence only affected the dryness of my clothes rather than my mood during the week. And I will admit that the rain was admittedly a nice lead-in for the warm weather I’m sure we’ll be experiencing soon enough. Just something to keep in mind for my future self looking back through these blogs. 


To test your memory of my previous blog and due to the celebration of Juneteenth, I was able to continue spending time with Siena in Boston. The day certainly moved much faster than anticipated (as the end of any wonderful trip always does), but we made sure to value the last full day we had with each other by taking a relaxing walk outside, ordering Mexican food, and watching both The Glass Onion and This is Where I Leave You on Netflix. Despite their captivating nature, we were admittedly tired of watching Pirates of the Caribbean back to back.   



Tuesday marked the day I had to leave Boston and Siena, which as one can imagine certainly brought sadness to the day. Work on Tuesday involved a virtual check-in meeting with the other two APS interns Jaden and Jenna and Jenna’s mentor. We had a similar meeting the previous week, where one of our mentors talks with us about our progress, how we are feeling about the internship, and any questions we might have for them. I have really enjoyed these meetings not only because I am able to meet new APS employees but because I get to hear about what the other APS interns are doing in their respective roles. Overall, it’s just nice to know that all of our mentors are here to support us both in and out of these meetings. I attended my daily meeting with my mentor shortly after, where we discussed the continuation of updating the educational data and graphs. I am at a point where I only have a handful left, and my goal for the week is to finish this data-updating section of the internship by the end of the week! We also discussed looking at the effect of the alteration in APS’s STEM definition on different races and ethnicities in the United States, in addition to my initial work with analyzing the overall STEM majors and women in STEM. A discussion of a more consistent spreadsheet layout for each data set also came about. My mentor related how a few consistent formats for the different data tables would drastically improve their ability to annually input the updated data from a code pipeline. This would completely alter the way in which my internship would be run for the future, benefiting future interns by allowing them to spend more time to actively analyze the data sets at hand. This will certainly be an ongoing discussion with my mentor, but I hope that such actions will allow me to leave my mark on this internship role.   


Wednesday was mainly a work day due to the nature of the weather, as any hopes for an afternoon intern activity on The Wharf were initially washed away by the rain. My mentor meeting involved an update of the spreadsheets I finalized in addition to a discussion of the need for the old STEM data for further analyses. You see, at the moment I am working with what are called “Uberspreadsheets” in order to acquire all of the necessary data. These spreadsheets contain degree-based information for every U.S. institution based on fields ranging from Physics to Computer Science. For my STEM analysis, I am using a STEM-oriented Uberspreadsheet (cleverly titled “STEM Uberspreadsheet 2021”) that contains the updated STEM classification numbers. In order to compare the old vs. new STEM numbers for different races and ethnicities, I would need an Uberspreadsheet with the old STEM classification. My mentor said that they would be happy to create such a spreadsheet for my analysis, derived from an alteration of the source code based on the old STEM CIP codes. If you didn’t follow any of what I just said (honestly, if I was reading this I probably wouldn’t have either), I basically just need a new data set based on the old data to properly compare. We also talked about updating APS’s list of “Historically Black Colleges and Universities” (HBCUs) based on whether the previously-listed institutions still offered a physics program. In the future, I will also be updating the list of “Hispanic Serving Institutions” (HSIs) in a similar manner. 


Despite the rain, a group of interns found a Bowlero Wednesday night with quite a deal for unlimited bowling after 8 pm. Most of us also bought some arcade credits, where we played games that ranged from Space Invaders to Ski Ball. I also discovered the magic of the dancing arcade games, where even my light polo didn’t prevent me from breaking a sweat. While bowling was also a fun time, I quickly remembered why I haven’t bowled in quite a while. But hey, at least I was able to buy some candy with my arcade points! 




Thursday was a heck of a day! Typically, a group of interns including myself go into the American Center for Physics office on Wednesday to meet the weekly in-person minimum. However, this week marked a very special event taking place at ACP on Thursday, so we decided to wait to migrate as a pack of physicists to the office until that day. I’m assuming you’d like to know what happened on this day? Well, Thursday marked the anticipated lunch meeting with Dr. John Mather, a Nobel Prize-winning astrophysicist who helped to confirm the big-bang theory. Along with a Mediterranean lunch, the interns were able to talk with Dr. Mather about his life, interests, and passions. We also ate with current APS employees, where they discussed their different initiatives as a part of APS. Each intern was able to talk about their current work and aspirations for future careers, and I quickly realized that one of the members was from my hometown of Chattanooga, Tennessee! What a small world we live in indeed. After lunch, Dr. Mather gave the interns a presentation of his origins and fascinating work over the past several decades. He provided several pieces of advice to the interns, stating how “we’re all beginners, all of the time” and not to “be afraid to fail.” His current initiative to create a solar system imaging satellite was extremely compelling, and he further detailed the implications of topics such as AI for our society. It was such a pleasure to meet Dr. Mather, and I will never forget being able to ask him what his favorite space movie is. If you’re interested in his answer, he stated that he liked the 50s Forbidden Planet film, which of course the interns had to watch that very evening to better understand the mind of Dr. Mather.    


Other than a few slight updates, Friday marked the day that I had essentially completed the data-updating section of the internship! It was really exciting to be able to reach this point in the internship, as the past few weeks had mainly involved this type of work. I’m looking forward to being able to not only work more with analyzing the data but also meeting with the marketing team to generate infographics based on my updates. After my mentor meeting, I was able to keep the past mentors updated by asking for their opinions on some interesting observations I made. Specifically, I was wondering about the inclusion of physics master’s degrees data in comparison to the past presentation of solely bachelor’s and Ph.D. for a marginalized race/ethnicity chart. I also inquired about the merging of two similar data sets to better consolidate graphs for the website. Overall, I’m excited to keep working with the data in different ways for the remainder of the internship!


The presence of the rain unfortunately had canceled plans to once again attend Jazz in the Garden, but a group of interns was able to take a beautiful national monument night walk. I had taken a similar adventure with Siena just last year in DC, and the absence of the sun makes the experience quite enjoyable. We even spent some time with Einstein on our way back!






Saturday marked a very busy yet exciting day for all of the interns. Each year during the internship, the interns are required to take part in a service initiative in DC. This initiative typically takes the form of participating in what’s known as Astronomy on the Mall, which features a collection of nerds such as ourselves helping to teach kids, parents, etc. about the wondrous worlds of physics and space. Emily (our SOCK intern) is the intern who helps to coordinate the demonstrations we’ll be conducting during the event, and she explained all of the demos Friday evening to ensure that we knew what our roles would entail. Admittedly, we might have had a bit too much fun with some of the demonstrations…  



On Saturday around 3:30 pm, the interns were able to begin mid-afternoon in the best way one could conceive: by eating free Domino’s pizza. I will say that I am more of a Papa John’s kind of person, but the free pizza at the time tasted just as good. After we had helped ourselves to the early dinner, we made our way to the Smithsonian Art and Industries Building. Going along with the theme of the week, Astronomy on the Mall was sadly moved from its original location on the mall to indoors due to the prospect of rain. We quickly set up all of our physics demonstrations spread out along three tables, which ranged from a gravity well to astronomy trivia. The event lasted from 6 until 9:30 pm, where the interns switched roles halfway through. I started on the “wave” table teaching people about the physics behind both sound and light waves through activities such as boom-whackers and diffraction glasses. I loved teaching others about these topics, and some of the interns were able to put on a few concerts featuring “Hot Crossed Buns” and “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” The hall quickly filled up with families throughout the night, and the event went by much faster than I had anticipated. Astronomy on the Mall was such a fun and fulfilling experience, and the whirling sound-makers will forever hold a special place in my heart despite receiving a small callus as a byproduct of my excited twirling efforts. Oh, and we had the most adorable matching physics shirts to ensure that people knew just how nerdy we really are. I’ll undoubtedly be wearing mine once I get back home.






While one might think that we would have been exhausted after such an experience, a group of interns including myself decided to go to the open Smithsonian night exhibits. The Museum of Natural History was bustling with individuals, and we found ourselves going back in time through an observation of diverse artwork and fossil exhibits. I was surprised to not find Ben Stiller hiding among the crowd. 



Sunday morning involved a trip to the farmer’s market, where I enjoyed some wonderful fruit and cheese samples in addition to a most delectable vegetable empanada. The skies are finally turning to a color other than gray! 



And with that, week 4 has come to an end. But week 5 is just beginning!

Devin Kodsi