Week Seven: Familiar Territory

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Friday, July 14, 2017


Zakary Noel

This week marked the first week of the Summer Teacher's Institute at NIST. Everyone seems so eager to learn and bring back to their classrooms, and it reminds me somewhat of the workshops and events I helped host at various joint meetings for AAPT and SPS in Texas' zone 13. It's a familiar, almost cozy kind of feeling- meeting new people and getting to know a bit about them, sharing primarily a strong connection in wanting to better learn how to disseminate science knowledge throughout the community. Working with them all has made me reflect on my time in school somewhat, and I realize that most of my interest in science came from my high school physics teacher. The memory serves to reiterate just ow important it is for educators to be not only fluent, but passionate in what they are teaching in order to foster the kind of interest that would lead someone like I was to put so much effort into something like physics.

I've spent only slightly less time with the teachers themselves this week as I have my fellow intern's labs, learning about what they do and the sort of failities it takes to do it. NASA is a long heralded motherland for amateur science nerds and STEM professionals alike, and being able to tour the grounds is an incredible experience. NIST is similarly a quasi-utopian world of research and knowledge that feels so very on the cusp of something new every time you hear a rumor foating down the hall. It feels so dense with knowledge and so ingrained with the community that it's hard to imagine how anyone outside the walls of the campus could feel that what goes on there seems so mundane.

I'm currently trying the best I can to be useful to both NIST and the Society of Physics Students while my time remains separated between the two. I can feel my August deadline hanging over me heavily and I can only hope that I can manage to deliver what I hoped to since the beginning of the summer. The effort is no doubt tiring, but if I can say I've made a worthwile contribution to my placement sites then that's the only thing that counts.


Thank you to the Lee College chapter of the Society of Physics Students, who have remained and grown in my absence to a small sub-community within their own campus that would make any physics department proud.

Zakary Noel