Week 6: Cheesesteaks and Archives

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Friday, July 3, 2015


Connor Day

Giant chair in phillyThe weeks keep going by faster and faster, but we are having a lot of fun and staying busy! On Saturday morning, I drove myself, Brean, Aman, and Max up to Philadelphia to spend the day. We met up with Brean’s boyfriend Hendrik at their school, Drexel University, and they showed the rest of us around Philly. I had some delicious stuffed french toast at brunch after we arrived. We then jumped on the subway (which still uses a token system?) to get to Old City where all the interesting historical sites are. First, we walked by the Delaware River waterfront to check out the tall ship festival happening that weekend. The ships were fun, but there was supposed to be a giant rubber duck too. Apparently it was out for repair...so sad.

Jello bookBefore the weekend, our mentor encouraged Brean and I to drop by the Chemical Heritage Foundation museum. We spent a couple hours browsing the exhibits there, which included chemistry-related artifacts ranging from 16th century alchemy books to a jello recipe book from the 1920s (photo). Afterwards, we briefly toured Carpenters’ Hall, the meeting place of the First Continental Congress, and Independence Hall, the signing place of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. We were a bit hungry by this point, so we headed down to Jim’s Steaks on South Street for some cheesesteaks (because Philly). It unfortunately had started raining pretty hard at this point, so we started heading back to Drexel. I still really wanted to see the Liberty Bell, but we were pretty soaked and annoyed and didn’t want to wait in line to go inside the center where the bell lives. However, we managed to snag a photo through a viewing window. We then jumped back on the subway to Drexel and headed home after a slight detour when I forgot my french toast leftovers at Hendrik’s apartment. Nevertheless, I think I’ve proven my excellent driving skills after driving back on terrible PA roads in the pouring rain and navigating D.C. in the dark.Liberty bell

Sunday was a recovery day from a busy Saturday, but Monday was a big day for everyone - the intern tour of ACP! Half of the intern group works here, so we had a full day planned. It started out with breakfast and a quick tour of the SPS floor where the SOCK interns, Hannah and Shauna, work. We then headed downstairs and into a conference room for a showcase of some of the noisy SOCK demos. I managed to convince everyone to re-create the boomwhacker song that was performed on my birthday so I could record and send it to my friend for her birthday that day!

The next (and best) part of the tour was hosted by Brean and I in the Niels Bohr Library and Archives. We began with a quick look at our workspace and a sample lesson plan. In the library reading room, we invited the library staff to introduce themselves to the group and give a short description of what they do. Showing the microfilmWe discussed some books and oral histories that have been useful to us and showed off the library website. The microfilm reader was also in this room, so we pulled up a reel of previously top-secret Manhattan Project documents (photo). We wanted to showcase the entire spectrum of library resources available. After a look through the book stacks and rare collections, we stepped down to the archives to showcase a small exhibit that Brean and I created with pieces and photos related to our research interests. The most popular items from the exhibit were a program and flyer from the 15th anniversary party of NASA (1973) out of Nancy Grace Roman’s personal records, one of the first female NASA executives; Richard Feynman’s college calculus notebook; comics from the Robert L. Weber Collection on humor in physics; and the very first SPS Newsletter published in its year of creation, 1968. We put in a lot of work last week putting everything together, and it paid off very nicely. Melanie, Elaina, and other staff added some supplemental information throughout the tour but let us direct it entirely ourselves. They were very impressed!

The rest of the day was filled with lunch with staff from the ACP, a chat with Pat’s mentor at AAPT about our experiences as undergraduate physics students, and some fun with Aman’s mentor, James, in APS outreach. He showed us a simple but cool demo in which sound is transmitted by a laser. I also snagged a scientist coloring book and the entire series of (educational) Spectra comics published by APS. I will definitely plan an intern coloring party before the summer is out.

On Monday evening, about half the intern group headed to jazz night at Tabard Inn in Dupont Circle to see my dad play. He traveled up from N.C. on Sunday to visit me, his family, and to play a couple gigs in the area; he’s a jazz guitarist. I was happy to see him and meet a couple of his colleagues and friends, and everyone else had a nice time meeting him too. He took Aman and I out to dinner the next evening at Clyde’s Tower Oaks Lodge up north of the city. Our waitress noticed me opening my Dora the Explorer card from my family and treated me to cake! It was great.

Tuckahoe letterBrean and I spent work Tuesday taking down our exhibit from the tour and managed to file everything back in the archives all by ourselves. I think we can be archivists now! Also on Tuesday, SPS received letters from the third graders at Tuckahoe Elementary who we visited a couple of weeks ago. One of the kids mentioned me and my whirly tubes directly! The letters were the perfect reminder of the impact of our outreach work and a great motivator for our last few weeks as interns. Wednesday brought a staff meeting in which Brean led a discussion on the 5E lesson plan model we have been implementing in our work. Aman, Brean, and I also took an impromptu adventure to Ikea for lunch. I had some yummy Swedish meatballs, and we had fun playing house in the showrooms. I spent most of Thursday reading more oral histories and drafting resumes and cover letters; I finally have discovered some full-time science outreach opportunities that I am quickly jumping on!

I caught up with my friend Stefanie on Thursday evening at the Smoke and Barrel in Adams Morgan - good barbecue and surprisingly delicious grits for this far north. The interns happily enjoyed a day off from work on Friday as the 4th is on a Saturday this year. It was a relaxing day of food and Netflix. Rachel and I spent most evening together dancing, playing games, and watching movies. The 4th is tomorrow, I’m excited to celebrate the it in one of the most American cities ever.

The best french toast ever
Old alchemy books
1960s transistor spec sheets
The interns at the ACP tour
With my dad at the Tabard Inn
Opening my birthday card and feeling 2(2)
BBQ at the Smoke & Barrel on Thursday

Connor Day