Sunday, July 17, 2022By:
This blog post, as usual, is being written from the wonderful consignment room (the apartment belonging to Janessa and myself). I am yet again having to face the harsh reality that we are now in the end stretch of this amazing experience, and I find myself not wanting to leave my work and friends. I am extremely passionate about the work that I am doing, all of the interns are genuinely kind and hilarious people, and I love the constant air of opportunity of the city. I don't want to leave any of it, and don't know how I am going to go back to a small liberal arts school in the middle of New Hampshire after this...
In terms of work this week, I have been bouncing back and forth between a few things, as much of what I am doing is currently in the send-and-receive editing process. At the moment, my projects are (a) polishing the last extensions of my Katherine Clerk Maxwell lesson plan, (b) editing the Émilie du Châtelet lesson plan draft with my mentors, (c) workshopping the Physics Today article with the magazine's editors for Katherine's outreach on invisible technicians and partners in science, (d) discussing back and forth with some sources about du Châtelet's outreach article (more on that soon!), (e) organizing some more projects to do, and (f) working on some more general internship responsibilities. Needless to say, it has been busy and will only pick up from here!
The teaching guide edits mainly consists of getting permissions from sources to use image and references, as well as making a few extra worksheets and extension projects for teachers to associate with the lesson plan.
I also officially submitted my proposal for the Katherine Clerk Maxwell Physics Today article this week, and will be hearing from them early next week! Thus begins the long process of editing, emailing, editing, correcting, editing, emailing, and editing. I am thrilled to be able to have my article published by the end of this internship, and am excited to see what the journalism process will look like firsthand. It is very important to me to be able to share the story and message of Katherine's life that I mentioned in the last blog post. The recognition of invisible technicians and partners of scientists is often essential to widen representation in STEM fields, and I am honored to have the opportunity to amplify a few of their stories. Perhaps the article drawing some attention to a few of these under-credited contributors will increase awareness of them, and inspire research to discover many more people or partners in similar positions. This not only pertains to history, but is also likely the case now, and I am very passionate in believing that the debate of extending credit to technicians and skilled workers should be more relevant to discussion and publication today.
I have also reached out to some sources about my current plan for du Châtelet's outreach article this week, and will likely be able to move forward next week (fingers crossed). I am planning on writing an article for the AIP History Newsletter that will be focused on du Châtelet and the role of science representation and outreach in entertainment (particularly in media such as plays, movies, or articles/news for wider audiences), relating to how stories can be misconstrued throughout history when they are made for the general public. This will likely touch upon how media often highlights Émilie's role as 'Voltaire's Mistress' rather than as an intellectual in her right, as it makes for an interesting or more entertaining story. It will focus on the necessity of portraying underrepresented voices through accessible media such as news, art or teaching guides; media forms such as these are what reach and inspire younger or more general audiences most as they are generally far more approachable than what field-specific or academic sources may provide. However, media outlets like these also often exaggerate elements of historical stories, with an example in du Châtelet. This is a difficult tradeoff that I am hoping to dispute in the article; the exaggeration of historical STEM stories definitely makes the content more engaging for a far wider audience that may foster curiosity and inspiration about STEM, but it is at the cost of truth.
In terms of other projects, I am also looking to make a blog post for the Ex Libris Universum library & archives blog and make some Wikipedia edits as well! This post will be simpler than the other forms of outreach, and I am looking to write a narrative of my experience doing different forms of research on Katherine and Émilie. This is because of the vastly different circumstances of the women's lives, and the accessibility to information about them. As she is relatively unheard of, Katherine's research was very difficult and different than any research that I have done before. I had to do a lot of digging through primary sources, letters, post cards, etc that may have related to Katherines husband to try to find any element of Katherine's existence and role in helping with her husband's experiments. This was a tedious task, which ended with me coming up short as there truly seems to be so little true record, and took me weeks. However, Émilie was involved in the French aristocracy and revolution, is well-researched, written about by many, and kept her own records as well. Researching her was simple, as many before me had already set out to write about this incredible and accomplished woman, even if they were still doing so in the context of the man next to her (Voltaire). Though both women had been written about mainly in the shadow of men (Katherine's husband James, and Émilie's partner Voltaire), the ways that I learned about them were extremely different, and a story that I will be sharing with the NBLA blog! I also am going to be editing the women's Wikipedia pages to expand on their stories and correct misinformation.
Finally, with internship responsibilities, I created my final project title and abstract this week, as well as started my final presentation. It definitely feels odd to be making these final projects while I am quite literally bouncing around with every piece of my internship at the moment, but it seems to just be how the editing process works. I will be finishing the draft of my presentation by Friday this week, though I am sure that I will not have a single one of my projects finalized by then, as jumping between them doesn't quite grant me enough time to finish one quite yet and the editing process takes a long time. It also is a harsh reminder that my time here is coming to a close, and I absolutely do not want my work to end.
My presentation title is going to be "Concealed Craftswomen of Physics," and the abstract is as follows:
Throughout history, there have been various cases of women in physics being underrepresented and under-credited for their work. It is essential to research and amplify their stories to promote representation in the field. This summer, I did just that and focused my efforts on two incredible women in physics: Katherine Clerk Maxwell and Émilie du Châtelet. I first created teaching guides on the two women for kindergarten through second graders, so that young kids could hopefully be inspired by women in science. Then, I wrote outreach articles about both women to attempt to share their stories with a wider and older audience. This consisted of articles for Physics Today, the Ex Libris Universum library & archives blog, and the AIP History Newsletter as well as some Wikipedia edits. Katherine serves as a case study about partners in science and how the companions of scientists often end up making huge contributions to research, but do not get credit for their work. Next, the media around du Châtelet served as a prime example of how stories are exaggerated and misconstrued throughout history. This presentation will touch upon my experience researching these two concealed craftswomen of physics, and share their very unique stories as well as my teaching guides and articles on them.
At ACP this Thursday, the AIP Foundation staff were also kind enough to provide all of the interns with lunch and great conversation! The AIP Foundation is a not-for-profit organization that supports various physics foundations that are mostly housed in the ACP building, and they are partly responsible for how all of us interns are able to be here. They support causes to provide opportunity and support to young people, undergraduates, and minorities in the field, as well as directly being involved with the Niels Bohr Library & Archives that I am most closely associated with! My job is most directly related to their causes with amplifying underrepresented minorities and working with the NBLA, so this was a really fantastic opportunity for me to meet and thank them—and I will most certainly be visiting the staff on Thursdays when they are in the office! The four staff members were absolutely wonderful, and were genuinely interested in our personal stories of our experiences and thoughts. Our experiences are essentially what they are working to support, and their excitement of our stories was both refreshing and motivating! It is always amazing to have someone believe in you. I really appreciate some of the personal conversations that I had with Mariann McCorkle and Abby Case as well; they both had career changes at or after the undergraduate level. We spoke for a long time about how frightening it is to make the decision to dive into a different career than what you had always pictured for yourself, and it was most definitely refreshing to hear from people that had successfully and were incredibly thankful for it.
Now, for a breakdown of the week outside of work! On Monday afternoon, I also participated in a psychology study on test-preparation and anxiety levels that was being performed at GW. During the study, I was hooked up to some electrodes and asked to perform a series of anxiety-inducing tests for a study on performance, but I was not drugged like many of the other participants as I was being used as a control subject. The GW main campus was also absolutely beautiful, and I will definitely be walking there again! After the study, many of the interns were up to different things, so I walked Janessa to the E Street Cinema where she was catching their $7 movie Mondays, and caught the sunset on my walk back!
Next, on Tuesday I took myself out to the Renwick Gallery. I absolutely love going out on my own to explore the city and taking time to myself in the museum was fantastic. The museum had works that were created throughout COVID, consisting of art made in isolation and the lonely loss of loved ones. It was both powerful and crazy to see something in an art gallery that I not only lived through and could relate to, but that is still taking place as well. After the museum, the interns gathered for another hilarious session of DnD!
We had our second Kayaking trip of the internship on Wednesday, and a lot more interns joined us! This time we kayaked to the Lincoln memorial and enjoyed a beautiful sunset; it was a great change of perspective to see the monuments from the water.
We explored the Hive on Thursday, with its beautiful rooftop view of the city! We were lucky to catch not only a sunset but a double rainbow on the roof, with some delicious flatbreads, and a movie afterwards.
On Friday, we were lucky enough to secure tickets to the 'Jazz in the Garden' sculpture garden event. The event returns a few times out of the summer, with the free tickets 'selling out' within three minutes of release, so I am thrilled that we were able to attend one! We came back to the consignment (my apartment) afterwards to watch a movie... and to celebrate Janessa being published for the first time! Congratulations to Janessa on her huge accomplishment, her work on gravity is both novel and absolutely incredible, currently only being researched by a few teams worldwide. I have absolutely no shame in plugging her research on "New Signals in Precision Gravity Tests and Beyond," published on July 13 2022 :)
The Fiesta Asia Street Fair took place on Saturday, and most of us were able to go again! We were excited to share some Nepali dumplings with Saksham and an egg yolk Filipino donut with Justin... even with the disappointing truth that the dumpling spices did not live up to the true Nepali standard. After the fair, everyone brought snacks and games to share, and joined together for another game night in consignment! Skills were tested and laughs were shared... and things were learned about each other as we absolutely crushed some karaoke.
Finally, Sunday was a fantastic and refreshing day to myself. I did some chores, walked around town, an took myself to two of the Smithsonian's! I was able to visit the Natural History and American History museums before they closed, and I must say, Abraham Lincoln's famous hat was a bit smaller than expected... After getting home, I had a lovely evening of finishing up some work, this blog post, and logging onto the computer to watch a movie with some friends from home (thank you to technology developed in COVID for that).
I have all of my many projects to work on this coming week, as well as at least one event scheduled quite literally every day after work, so I have a lot to look forward to yet again!
See you next week,