Week 8: The Meeting (Among Other Things)

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Sunday, July 20, 2014


Jacob Zalkind

The Meeting (Among Other Things)

All of our work throughout the summer, the hours of reading countless books and sifting through vast amounts of information, all came to a head this week. This week on Friday, we had our Advisory Meeting, consisting of several officials from around the ACP, as well as a few experts in the fields of African Americans in the Physical Sciences. Although the meeting was without a doubt the biggest part of Week 8, it certainly was not the only part of our busy week. This past week at ACP has consisted mostly of trying to finish everything that we wanted to finish before our presentation on Friday and preparing our presentation for the advisers. This included two one-hour sessions to practice our presentation and make sure that we knew exactly how we were going to present our information on Friday. With some minor adjustments to the material being presented we were able to fit perfectly into our allotted hour to present. In addition to practicing the delivery of our work, we also needed to put all the bells and whistles on our work to make sure that it all looked good enough to be presentable. By the time Wednesday afternoon rolled around, we were pretty much ready to go.

On Thursday, Simon and I also lost a day of preparation due to a field trip! This time we explored Nick and Kirsten's workplace of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center! This was an especially interesting visit because our fellow interns coordinated the visit perfectly with an event in which different departments at Goddard hosted tables and presented some of what they were working on. There was everything going on there from chemistry, to earth science to just about anything else you could possibly think of! Very cool! After a lunch with John Mather at NASA, we were then brought to another building to see the kind of work they do on spacecraft, specifically on testing them in various ways before putting them into space. They did just about everything to these spacecraft before putting them up in space - cooled them down, put them in vacuum chambers, you name it! The thing they were currently working on and preparing for this time around was the arrival of the James Webb Space Telescope. Although it wasn't at the facility yet, we were told it was arriving that night....talk about poor timing on our parts!

Then came Friday. After arriving at work at roughly 9:00 to finish a few odds and ends, as well as meeting with Dr. Good on his first day back after a conference on the west coast since July 7, there was not much left to do but to just go for it. We went to one of the conference rooms and saw some familiar faces from around the office and some familiar from our studies, including Paul Gueye, the current president of the National Society of Black Physicists, James Stith, a former Vice-President of the physics resource center at AIP, and Ronald Mickens, a well known physicist and science historian. After introductions, we gave our presentation as we had practiced, but of course not all things go as they are planned. We knew that we were going to be asked questions throughout our presentation, but our original one hour presentation doubled in time between all of the questions and comments. When it was all said and done and the dust had finally settled, the project was a success! Our team received great comments, criticisms and compliments to our project from almost everyone at the meeting. While there is still much to do for this project, it seems we have made several steps in the right direction!

Jacob Zalkind