Week 8: Whirlwind week of outreach and stuff!

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Sunday, July 20, 2014


Mark Sellers

I took the 12th of July pretty slow; slept in, made a big breakfast, and didn't leave the apartment until about 1pm. I headed out to the International Spy Museum, which was quite fun! The exhibits were focused more on children, but the museum still had an impressive collection of artifacts and history related to espionage. They also had an interesting exhibit on all of the villains in the Bond films and explained how a lot of them reflected the problems of the time (tensions between US/Russia, nukes, cyber-terrorism, etc etc etc... The fun stuff!) Afterwards, I went down to the waterfront with the interns for some dinner, cupcakes, and walking around. Sunday was uneventful.

Helping a group of students at the UMD physics camp get their apparatus set up.This week, I prepared for two outreach events--one on Tuesday with the University of Maryland high school physics girls camp and one on Wednesday with the middle school teachers at NIST. So, Monday was spent acquiring materials and solidifying the explanations for Tuesday. The outreach event went really well, since it was good to see how that age group of students would react to certain demonstrations and activities. We focused on our diffraction activities, since we had yet to test them with a higher level group. We also tried incorporating worksheets for some of our demonstrations so the students could have something to work on together. For the rest of Tuesday, we got ready for the NIST outreach event. Also, on Tuesday evening, we went out to the College Park Aviation Museum for a dinner with the interns, their sponsors, and some of the SPS/AIP leadership. It was a really enjoyable evening, as seen in the photos of us playing dress-up and posing by some of the aircraft in the museum.

 Inside the NASA-Goddard "newsroom."On Wednesday, we arrived at NIST around 12:30 and started setting up. We did our light fountain and fluorescence demonstrations with them. We attempted to do the demonstration showing how to calculate the speed of light from a microwave oven, but the microwave ovens at NIST didn't produce the desired result. So, to fill that time, we polled the teachers about the activities and what they were wanting to do in the classroom. I also gave all 22 teachers my business card, so now I have some contacts in American Samoa and Hawaii, which is pretty awesome. (Gradually conquering the world with physics!)

A view of Goddard's massive centrifuge. I couldn't fit the whole thing on one frame!On Thursday, we went out to NASA-Goddard for our tour! We timed our visit just right, since there was a "Science Jamboree" that day, which is NASA's version of a science fair. In addition to picking up a lot of free NASA goodies, I learned a lot about the different research groups involved with NASA and saw some of NASA's super computers! Nick's mentor also took us on a tour of the James Webb Space Telescope facilities, where we saw the fabrication clean rooms, some of the testing facilities, and even stepped into the centrifuge chamber! The NASA interns did a really good job of planning everything out!

Mark Sellers