Week 7: NASA, Capitol Hill, NIST… and 21!

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Friday, July 10, 2015


Hannah Pell

This week was quite hectic; I barely had any time in the office. Tuesday was quite an exciting day because we toured the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center… and I turned 21! We started off the tour visiting Max’s lab and meeting his mentor. Their project is really interesting.  We saw the machinery they use in the detector lab and some samples of detectors they had already engineered.  After that, we had another visit with Dr. John Mather who came to talk about what he has been working on lately and was exceptionally curious about what we’re all up to as well. During lunch, we visited some food trucks and walked around the Science Jamboree.   Many different tables were set up representing departments and various projects to showcase more of what is happening at Goddard.  The afternoon was spent touring a few other buildings; we saw the High Bay Clean Room where they were working on the James Webb space telescope, the Space Environment Simulator, and the main control room for the Hubble Space Telescope! I definitely learned a lot, and I enjoyed hearing about both Max’s and Rachel’s work for the summer.  

Once we got back to Woodley, I was ready to celebrate.  Pat and I walked down to the Woodley Café, probably my favorite local restaurant I found so far.  For me, there was no better way to start off my night than with a draft Yuengling and big stack of pancakes. Beer and breakfast – America.  Later that night, Connor, Aman, Shauna and I barhopped around the Adam’s Morgan area (as much as we could because it was, you know, a Tuesday...)  It was tough being away from my family and friends on this special day, but I’m really thankful that I’ve made friends here who were happy to help me celebrate!

The next day, four of us volunteered on Capitol Hill for the Department of Energy National Laboratory Day.  We helped a bit with set-up in the morning, met Drew for lunch, and later ran a sign-in table.  After the main talk, we had the chance to walk around a bit. I had the opportunity to talk to a few representatives about the projects their lab was working on, and I learned a lot! It was nice that they were interested in our work as well.  Everyone really seems to like students around here.

Yesterday was my first of two days presenting at NIST with Shauna for the Summer Institute for Middle School Science Teachers. We spent about an hour and a half going through introductions, talking about the SOCK and the manual, and doing the Pan Pipes activity and Doppler Effect demonstration.  The teachers asked great questions and gave wonderful feedback, we now have a much better idea how we can adapt the activities for a middle school audience. I think the teachers really enjoyed playing with their Doppler Balls and Pan Pipes too! Monday we’re planning to do tuning fork demonstrations, the “Sound at a Distance” activity, and bringing along the Boomwhackers for a little extra noisy fun. Hopefully it goes as well as it did yesterday!

Next week will be just as busy.  I’ll be at NIST again for the teacher’s institute and for the tour later in the week. Also next week I will be doing outreach with the University of Maryland Physics Summer Girls Program, which I am super excited for!  These last few weeks are going to be crazy.

Hannah Pell