Week 6: Playing Games at Work?

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Thursday, July 23, 2015


Brean Prefontaine

I know that I mentioned this last week, but I cannot believe that I only have one more month in DC. This internship has really gone by so quickly and I will soon be leaving DC (although I will be happy to leave the humidity behind because it is the absolute worst thing about DC). This weekend I decided to explore an area of the city that I have not spent much time in before. Aman, Connor, Katie (Aman’s roommate), Max, myself, and Jared (a friend from Drexel who is completing his coop in Maryland) all went over to Georgetown to walk around and explore for the day. The only way that I can describe Georgetown is that it is like a fancy and quaint outdoor mall. The streets are lined with shops that are housed in colonial looking houses. There are little coffee shops, thrift stores, brand name clothing stores, and of course the cupcake shops. When we went on Saturday, there were crowds of people all around. I was surprised at how busy it was. However, with some help from Aman we found a great little sandwich shop to each lunch at. After lunch, we decided to go thrift shopping but this turned out to be more difficult than one would had thought. Apparently the majority of thrift stores in Georgetown are considered high end and are stuffed full of designer clothing. Needless to say, this was not quite what we interns were looking for. Overall Georgetown was a lot of fun and we were able to walk around many different shops. I also tried to stop by Baked and Wired again but the line was wrapped around the corner so I thought that it would not be worth it.

After a long day of roaming around Georgetown, I was glad to sleep in and rest on Sunday. However, Monday came soon enough and it was back to work. We are still all preparing for the teacher’s visit next week. This week we had the goal of completely creating all of our games and testing them out. I finished “Heads Up” and Connor finalized “Phystory.” Joanna has also been working on “Scientists of Catan” and while it was not completed this week, it will be done in time for the teachers to try it out. Connor and I were able to print all of the cards for “Heads Up” and “Phystory” so that we could have a test run with Pat and Dr. Good. We have played both games at least three times this week and they seem to be working really well (except for the fact that you actually have to know physicists for “Heads Up”). I am extremely pleased with how the games came out and cannot wait to hear what the teachers think of them.

We have also been working on redoing some more of the lesson plans. I am still working on converting some of the African American lesson plans into a lesson plan that has the 5E model. All of the 5E models are going to be printed out and given to the teachers at the workshop. We plan on having them review these lesson plans and giving us feedback on how we have rewritten the lesson plans to be in the 5E model format.

Outside of working on the lesson plans and games, we have also been participating in many other activities for the interns. On Wednesday night, all of the interns gathered after work at Tracy’s home for aGroup Picture at Tracy's House dinner. We had pizza, salad, and many other goodies for dinner. While the goal of this night was to talk about how SPS is using social media and if it is effective, this was just generally a great night to get together with everyone and relax. We played the Heads Up app while eating dinner and we all talked about our projects and work. We were also able to get a group picture of everyone!

The next morning, all of the interns made their way to NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) for one of our last tours. I have already been to NIST because two years ago there was a CUWiP conference held at the University of Maryland. During this conference, there was a tour offered at NIST. I remember being in awe of some of all of the things that were going on in NIST and this tour at NIST did not disappoint. We first went to the lab where Veronica and Teresa work. Their mentor explained all about their work with proteins and trying to create a device that would allow proteins to pass throughGroup Photos at the Neutron Research Facility at NIST a channel. Then, we went down to the basement of a building as saw some of the microscopes that NIST has. These were all able to produce 3D images of the sample. Then we went over to the lab that was working on measuring the meter. The meter is not something that we generally think about as needing to measure, but NIST argues that they need to refine how one can use light to measure the meter. The last thing before lunch was a trip over to the nano fabrication lab to see some of the things that are being worked on in the nanotechnology. Then it was lunch time and I realized how jealous I was of NIST’s cafeteria.

After lunch we were all treated with a lecture by Dr. Phillips about the atomic clock. While it was difficult to stay awake during this lecture (the combination of lunch and the incredibly comfy chairs in the auditorium did it for me) this was still a lot of fun. Dr. Phillips used liquid nitrogen throughout his lecture to demonstrate how cold particles need to be. It was pretty hilarious when Dr. Phillips put multiple blown up  balloons in a container with liquid nitrogen. The balloons flattened out and then Dr. Phillips took them out toward the end of his lecture and threw them like frisbees into the audience.

The highlight of the day was visiting the apple tree that NIST has in one of the courtyards. This was not just any apple tree, but a descendant of the apple tree that supposedly inspired Isaac Newton. The apples were not the greatest (not large and sweet like we expect apples to be) but this was a neat experience and a great photo opportunity.

Overall this week has been busy and a great experience. There are only two more weeks left with the other interns and until the final presentations so things are naturally busy around ACP. I am looking forward to another weekend exploring DC and for the teachers coming to visit next week. Until next time!


Brean Prefontaine