Week 8: The end? Just Kidding...

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Thursday, August 6, 2015


Brean Prefontaine

This weekend included another trip up to Philadelphia to see some friends. On Saturday I was able to the Trainwreck movie. It was great and really funny! I highly recommend going to see it! Then on Sunday I was able to relax and go out for a great breakfast with Hendrik. Since this week was going to be busy, it was nice to just go to Philadelphia and relax for a bit.

This week was the summer AAPT meeting at College Park. Our mentor, Dr. Good, encouraged Connor and I to attend this conference so we were planning on going. However, on Friday Dr. Good came by our desks and told us that one of the graduate students from last year was supposed to give a talk about our project. However, something came up and she was not going to make it to the conference. So, Dr. Good gave us that abstract for the talk and asked Connor, Joanna, and myself to come up with a talk that would fill the 30 minute time slot. So, we started our Power Point on Friday and continued to work on it on Monday. After finishing up our powerpoint and getting ready for our talk, Connor and I decided to spend the rest of Monday at AAPT. When we got to the University of Maryland, there were many things going on. We decided to go to the exhibit hall first. This was pretty neat because there were many different booths with different societies (SPS, APS, AAPT, etc.) as well as different scientific instruments and textbook vendors. We were able to catch up with Sean and Courtney at the SPS booth and some people from APS.

After we were done with the exhibit hall, Connor and I wandered over to another room that housed the high school physics photograph competition. We had heard about this event from some of the people up at AAPT. Basically high school students can take a photo of something neat and then explain it through physics. The photos and explanations were all displayed and under different categories. We were able to vote on photos in each category. Some of my favorites were one that was taken from a plane window and showed the shadow of the plane on a cloud and another with guitar strings in a wavelike pattern after being plucked.

Later on Monday, there was an SPS rewards reception for the SPS posters that were presented over the weekend at the conference. All of the interns were invited to attend, so Connor and I made our way over to the physics building at the University of Maryland. This was a nice reception even though not many poster presenters were present. We were also able to meet Ashley, one of the previous Mather interns. It was a nice opportunity to network with some other SPS members and I even saw Matthew Parsons from Drexel which was exciting.

Tuesday morning was the time for our talk about the project. This meant that we had to at the University of Maryland very early (too early if you ask me) to set up and be present for the rest of the session. Teasel, she is a postdoc working in the history center, gave a talk about the interactive web exhibits that the history center provides. Then it was our turn to present the lesson plans about the women and African Americans. Overall I thought that our talk went extremely well for how short of a notice it was. There were some terrific questions from the audience and i think that everyone was interested in knowing more so that they could use the lessons in their classroom. This was really inspiring to hear and I am glad that other people have an interest in this area. Dr. Good was the next person to give a talk in the session and he presented on the oral histories that the history department conducts. Finishing out the session was a short but very lively talk from Ruth Howes. She is a professor emerita at Ball State (and Pat actually knew her) and was an inspiration to talk to after the session. She encouraged us to dig deep and find the scandals that no one knows about. It was great! She also sent a lovely and encouraging email to Connor and I after the conference was over. She is an awesome woman!

Later Tuesday night, a group of the interns decided to head over the Argonaut, a restaurant and bar in DC, for science night. Science night is like quizzo but with all science related trivia questions. There is also an engineering component to the competition. Each team isThe winning boat from Science Night handed a bag at the beginning of the night and have two hours to build whatever the challenge is. On Tuesday night, the challenge was to build a boat out of some dixie cups, duct tape, and straws. The team that had a boat that could hold the most amount of marbles was the winner and I am proud to say that SPS interns represented and had the winning boat design! It was a ton of fun and a great way to win a $50 gift card to the restaurant.

Wednesday was the last day of the AAPT conference but Connor and I decided to put a little more work into our final presentation before heading over to the conference. We had planned on going to two different talks at the conference, but happened to miss both of them much to our disappointments. Connor’s previous professor from Agnes Scott College was at AAPT and was presenting on a teaching style that she used in her introductory courses. However, we somehow got the time wrong for this talk and missed it. I also wanted to see a talk presented by Matthew Parsons on the computational part of Drexel’s physics curriculum. Well, apparently it is not too important to stick to the schedule because he ended up giving his talk earlier that day and we missed it as well. At this point Connor and I just gave up and went home. It was okay and Connor and I were able to rest a bit before practicing our talk on Thursday and then giving the real presentation on Friday.

Friday was the big day! It was the last day that all the interns were “working” and it was the day that everyone gave their final talk. The day started off with a nice lunch with everyone present. This was a nice opportunity to talk to some of the other people attending the Connor and I after our final presentationtalks. I was sitting at table with Dr. Good, Stephanie, and some of the library staff and had a great time laughing at their stories. The final presentations were great! Connor and I were color coordinating without even trying, I was not nearly as nervous as I had been during the practice talk, and the audience actually laughed at our jokes! Friday was somewhat bittersweet because our talk went well but this was the last time that I would see everyone together. Overall it was a great summer and I thankful that I was able to meet all the other interns and make some lifelong friends.

Brean Prefontaine