Week 6: The Fourth of July!- Short Week!

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Sunday, July 6, 2014


Jacob Zalkind

The Fourth of July!- Short Week!

Short week this week with the Fourth of July coming up, but before a time of playing and relaxing must come more work.The week began, as it always does, after a great weekend full of excitement. On the menu this weekend was exploring more of Georgetown, seeing the Waterfront, going to the Air and Space Museum and experiencing the Folk Life Festival (as opposed to the Coldplay festival which I misheard it as....sorry Mark, Kirsten and Ashley!). The folk life festival was cool, this year they featured Kenya and China as the countries to explore.......I'm not sure but it sounded like the Kenyans were having a lot more fun on their side of the mall than the Chinese were, but who am I to judge? Regardless of who was having the most fun at this event, it was quite an experience to see another country's culture in the ways in which the representatives there chose to exemplify it, be it in the form of the foods, the arts, the music or whatever, it was a cool and insightful experience! So after a great weekend of all that exploring and carrying on, we began the work week! This week, I was working on three different lesson plans to be finished up before the holiday, one of which I had started two or three weeks ago and others that had not even been started yet, so I guess you could say I had a lot on my plate this week that I wanted to finish. On Monday morning, however, a gift came via Amanda in the Archives Department, in the form of the Ron Mickens Archival Collection. Ron Mickens is one of the African-American Physicists we have been studying who has done a lot of work in obtaining and preserving materials regarding several other African-American scientists we are studying in this project. His collection brought to the table for us more information which we could not find in books or on the web, and which also provided some good primary source material that could be used in many different lesson plans for several different scientists. With the new material in hand, I was able to complete the lesson plan I had started weeks ago with some other material that I found on the Internet, revolving around a debate of the student protests at Fisk University in the late 1960s. So that's one lesson down.

The next lesson I wanted to finish by the time the week ended was a lesson centering on careers students could enter with a degree in physics or the physical sciences. We had, on our list of scientists, several scientists who had degrees in physics but were not traditional physicists in regard to their occupations. Some were geophysicists, some atmospheric physicists, engineers, chemical physicists etc. The only problem was that I had no idea how to make this into a feasible lesson plan until my fellow intern Stephen's ramblings about the projects that he is working on at APS reminded of something my physics teacher in high school used on us: use physics to explain how an MRI machine works. Stephen had been talking to us about incorporating physics in medicine, so I thought to apply the idea of medicine and physics to a variety of machines that employ physics in order for them to function. So right there, with the help of my fellow intern and my own experiences in high school, I was able to make a lesson to convey that there is more to physics than just pure physics.

Other than that, this already short week was made even shorter with a journey out to NIST with the SOCK interns and others to do a science outreach activity with the day camp kids at NIST. It was a good opportunity to see the NIST campus and help my colleagues work on their projects too, as well as a good break from my own work. This marked the end of the work week and the beginning of the holiday weekend! The weekend consisted of meeting up with my old roommate back at Ship for a day of celebration of the country in the Capitol, followed by watching the fireworks at the national mall with my fellow interns. That was quite the spectacle, the likes and size of which I have never seen before! The weekend concluded with a trip to the Air and Space Extension Museum to see all that that place had to hold.....as well as Nick and Kelby being forced to listen to my music on the way out. Good job guys!

Jacob Zalkind