Week 6: Outreach at NIST, 4th of July

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Sunday, July 6, 2014


Mark Sellers

The weekend was fairly uneventful for me, which is a good thing. I definitely needed some time to take a breather, sleep, finish chores around the apartment, etc... I did go to the Air and Space Museum on Sunday, but it was super packed (which is normal, from what I'm told). It was still amazing to see all of the different aircraft models and to see the exhibits on the space expeditions.

This week I've been focusing on improving the SOCK manual and explanations. Kendra and I met to talk about some changes to how the SOCK demonstrations are explained and organized, which reinforced my understanding of the demonstrations and the target audience. We also finalized a buy list of parts for the demonstrations so, once the explanations are completed, we can start to assemble the SOCKs!

Another part of this week was devoted to preparing for an outreach event with the NIST day care and summer camp groups. These two groups, roughly 30 students, ranged in classes from kindergarten to fourth grade. We did demonstrations on fiber optics, fluorescence, diffraction, and measuring the speed of light in a microwave. I got a lot of help from Caleb, Jake, Kearns, Stephen, Kendra, and Courtney to both manage the excited kids and to present the demonstrations. It was also good to have a focus group to work with, since we started to realize what worked and what needed to be changed in the demonstrations. It went well overall, and the kids got to take home a pair of diffraction glasses to use on the 4th of July!Showing the summer camp how to do single slit diffraction with two pencils!

Speaking of which, most of the interns spent the 4th on the National Mall on the grounds of the Washington Monument. We played frisbee, talked, hung out, and tried to avoid getting too badly sunburned. Caleb definitely saved me from getting sunburned, since he loaned me an umbrella to use as a parasol. The interns also distributed roughly 200-250 diffraction glasses to the people nearby to use during the fireworks display. We kept a few for ourselves and wow! The fireworks looked incredible! http://instagram.com/p/qKKU9sFMMZ/?modal=true

Mark Sellers