Week 5: Busy social week! And looking forward!

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Sunday, June 29, 2014


Mark Sellers

This past weekend was super fun! I went to go see Speakers of the House, a Baltimore boogaloo (aka, funk) group at Jazz in the Garden. Even though I got there a little late, I managed to snag a spot right by the stage! Ashley, Kirsten, and Caleb joined me after they got off work and we all split a pitcher of red wine sangria. Around the second or third part of their show, the crowd really started getting into the music. Everyone—old, young, and even some security guards—was clustered together in front of the stage and dancing without a care in the world. I really want to find more of the Speakers of the House, but they don't seem to have an album out yet. Boo. I'll just listen to the demos on their website.

Speakers of the House!On Saturday, I did mostly chores and such before heading out to go see "How to Train Your Dragon 2" with Kelby, Kearns, Caleb, Ashley, Jake, and Simon. I had listened to the first book on audio tape, and was surprised at how different the plot was between the book and movie!

Sunday was taken up with the D.C. bar-b-que battle in the downtown area. I managed to get a lot of free samples of things, which made up for the rather steep cover fee. I was really sleepy after a full day of walking and snacking, so I headed to bed fairly early.

On Monday, Kearns and I met with Toni to finalize plans for the SOCK. We pulled together a google spreadsheet of all the materials we would need and re-doubled our efforts on writing explanations. We also tried out another demonstration that was quite similar to one I had done at Rhodes. If you have a set of polarizers, a light source, and a sugar-water solution, you can measure the concentration of sugar by the angle required to block all of the polarized light. On Tuesday, I went to NIST with Kearns, Kendra, and Toni to talk about the upcoming middle school teacher's workshop, which Kearns will be helping out with. That evening, most of the gang went out to the Argonaut for their science night. There were three competitions--science trivia, a successful science experiment, and having the best team name. Our team name was "Let Us Atom!" and we had to do the infamous "egg-drop" competition as part of the experiment. The trivia was pretty hard--I didn't really know any of the answers except for the obvious ones--but everyone managed to pull together to get 10/15 correct answers. Our egg also survived a two-story drop from the Argonaut (the only successful drop!) By the end of the night, the SPS interns had swept all of the competitions and won a $50 gift card and a bottle of wine from the Argonaut. Not too bad!

On Wednesday night, I went out with Ben, Ashley, Kearns, and Caleb to the Congressional Baseball game (Democrats vs. Republicans). We left early since it started to sprinkle during the game, but we didn't miss much--the Democrats had a 10+ point lead over the republicans when we left. The rest of the week was fairly uneventful after that.

The Nationals mascots--the Presidents! Sorry for the fuzzy picture, they were running around in the outfield.

Thursday was a pretty big day for me. I got to skype with Jenna Smith, a PhD candidate, SOCK intern, AND Rhodes alumnus. Kearns and I talked to her mainly about graduate school, since Jenna had just defended her thesis work. It was very informative and she gave us a lot of tips and tricks to think about when searching for a graduate institution. Later that day, I had a good discussion with Steve Wasserman, who works out at the Lilly Research Laboratory, which is part of Argonne National Labs, about his experience with science, graduate school, and his unexpected path into doing science advocacy. I met Steve at the NUFO exhibition a few weeks back in the Rayburn House Office building. It was great to talk with him and definitely appreciate him taking the time to share his experiences. After both of those big talks, I'm thinking physics grad school is my step forward once I finish at Rhodes. I just have to get past the GRE and all of that!

Looking forward, we have a small outreach event at NIST, so we can prototype some other demonstrations on a younger focus group. After that, it';s just a matter of organizing the manual, finalizing explanations, and ordering parts.

Mark Sellers