Week 7: Happy 'Merica Day

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Friday, July 10, 2015


Connor Day

Rain on the 4thBefore I even arrived to Washington, I was excited about celebrating the 4th of July here. I spent the holiday morning visiting with a good friend and former coworker from Atlanta who was up for the weekend. We enjoyed brunch at Eatonville on 14th Street and a bit of shopping. Afterwards, I headed out to RedRocks on H Street with a couple of the interns and our friends to spend the evening. The entire day was cloudy and rainy, but we were still able to see fireworks from all over town from the rooftop of the bar. On our way home, we managed to run into some people setting some off in the middle of the street. 'Merica.

Back at work on Monday, the history team focused on planning for the teacher workshop that the history center is hosting in two weeks. The workshop will allow our team to work directly with the types of teachers who use our guides to ensure our products are as effective and accessible as possible. Although we will work on further edits of our lesson plans with the teachers, our focus this week has been on developing engaging activities related to the content of the plans that we can do with the teachers (who, in turn, can do with their students). They include historical role-playing games related to the lesson plans and two history of science card games. One of these games was already in development from the intern team last year: Phystory, based on the timeline game Chronology. Each card in the game shows a description of a historic event and the year in which the event occurred. Each player begins with a single card at the start, and players take turns determining where an event occurs on their timeline based on the cards they already have. The goal is to create a timeline of ten cards before your competitors. The intern team last year created a list of events to include on the cards and a draft of the game rules. I took this game under my wing this week, developing more events to include and designing the cards themselves. I organized the cards into three categories of physics history: general physics (green), women (blue), and African Americans (yellow). Brean had the idea to create another game based on Heads Up, one of my favorite party games. The game is very similar to charades; one person holds a card on their forehead and other players give clues to what is written on the card without saying any of the words on the card itself. However, instead of celebrities or songs or movies, these cards will include historical figures in physics, many of which are featured in our lesson plans.  We are making sure to use a few of the photos from the visual archives on these card designs to publicize AIP a bit.

Baked and wiredOn Monday evening, Brean and I decided to check out Baked and Wired, a cupcake shop in Georgetown that had been greatly recommended by many people around the area. I got a chocolate cupcake with chocolate frosting called Chocolate Doom. Brean made fun of me for ordering cold hot chocolate (AKA chocolate milk). I was still in chocolate heaven; the shop greatly lived up to expectations.


NASA visitor passThe group headed to NASA Goddard for our intern tour on Tuesday. We started out the day by meeting Max’s mentor, visiting his lab, and hearing quite a bit about the research they are conducting. Rachel briefly showed us her office before we visited Dr. John Mather for a chat on what he has been up to since we saw him on orientation day. After lunch, the group split up to browse around the Science Jamboree event happening that day on campus. The event was a big science fair with tables set up by different research teams at Goddard. I met people working on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), ICESAT, Hubble Space Telescope, the Goddard Library, and many other projects. I also went up for a quick tour of the Flight Dynamics Facility and control room used to monitor all NASA launches. During the short tour, I unexpectedly ran into a classmate of mine from Agnes Scott who is at an REU at Howard University. Clean roomShe was enjoying the Jamboree that day as well; it was awesome to see another Scottie at NASA. The afternoon included a visit to the JWST clean room where we got to see people moving a couple of the telescope's giant hexagonal mirrors around. We toured other JWST testing areas in the same building. Our final major stop for the day was the Hubble center. One of the current executives of the project led us through a very informative tour of the facility. He showed us many of the famous photos that the Hubble has taken, a few faulty parts that have been replaced since its launch, and the control room. After a quick visit to the gift shop and visitor center, we headed back into the city after a long day in space. However, the tour day was also Hannah's 21st birthday, so a few of us still had enough energy to head out for a few celebratory drinks in Adams Morgan that evening.NASA group stairs

Goddard sign group

Cannon stairsWednesday was another day out of the office. Brean, Aman, Hannah, and I had the opportunity to volunteer at the Department of Energy's National Laboratory Day on Capitol Hill. The event brought in representatives from the thirteen DoE national labs to exhibit some of the important energy-related work performed at these facilities. One of the speakers early in the day described it as a "big kid science fair." We interns were brought in to manage the sign-in tables at the event and help a bit with set-up. The exhibit and discussion with a panel of lab directors was held in the Caucus Room in the Cannon House Building. Over the course of the afternoon, we enjoyed lunch at the large cafeteria in the Longworth House building, strolled around the halls browsing offices of House representatives and committees, and watched the rain from the windows of the famous Cannon Rotunda. We were able to browse the exhibits and speak to national lab workers later in the day. The event was a nice change of pace from the ACP life.Muses

Back in the office on Thursday and Friday, Brean and I continued to work on our card games. I finalized my Phystory card design on Friday and managed to print out a trial run of about 50 cards. They look great! However, I have only designed them to be one sided, and they will need a back side because we can see the dates of the events through the cardstock we are using. Within my game research, I managed to discover an online app to play the popular party game Cards Against Humanity. The ACP interns spent most of our lunchtime at the end of the week playing with the app. It was good bonding time.

Thursday also brought a surprise birthday party for the interns from the SPS staff! Quite a few of us have celebrated birthdays this summer, and although we interns have done well in celebrating all of them, the staff still wanted to get us some cake too. It was very sweet of them. That evening, I went to visit my friend Stefanie and her husband for dinner... and to play with their puppies, Jane and Bingley! It was the perfect way to wind down after a busy week.

JWST mirror selfie
Liquid nitrogen ice cream!
Outside the JWST building
Hubble control room
Research categories for the exhibit
Brean being fabulous
Cannon rotunda

Connor Day