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[an error occurred while processing this directive] 2007 SPS National Interns
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Andrew Coughlin Andrew Coughlin
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Internship: APS ComPADRE (Physics To Go/PTEC)
Online Journal
Week of July 30, 2007 Week of July 9, 2007 Week of June 18, 2007
Week of July 23, 2007 Week of July 2, 2007 Week of June 11, 2007
Week of July 16, 2007 Week of June 25, 2007 Week of June 4, 2007
Week of July 30, 2007

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Week of July 23, 2007

Just like the 8 weeks of this internship, last week was a bit of a blur. I believe I left off last Friday just before we went to Gary's house for dinner. It was a great event where we met his family and they cooked some tasty Louisiana cuisine. It was also a nice experience to meet people from the office on a casual setting. Ali even came with to share in the fun which was really nice. Thanks to Gary once again for having us all over. The rest of the weekend was spent in preparation for the presentations to Tuesday. Powerpoint presentations don't make themselves.

Let's jump right to presentation week. On Monday we spent the day practicing for each other. All of the interns met at ACP and took over conference room A. It took us nearly the entire day to get through everyone's presentations because we were helping each other to make them as great as possible. I was very happy for the opportunity to practice. I went home that night to make a few key changes to my presentation. If we didn't have the chance to practice one of my original slides would have offended half the audience! After making changes it was time to get some rest for Tuesday. I was the last to present on Tuesday morning. When it was my turn, everyone else had already presented and done a wonderful job. I was a little scared that I was going to ruin the "perfect game" so to speak. Well, I wasn't Boo'd off the stage so I guess everything went well! To be honest I was more nervous about presenting in front of the interns on Monday then I was getting up in front of 50+ people on Tuesday. After presentations it was lunch time. As a side note: We got fed A LOT this week and during the internship. We mingled with all the physicists that came to see our presentations over sandwiches and snacks. After lunch it was story time! We had the pleasure of hearing L. Worth Seagondollar speak about his time working on the Manhattan Project. It was astonishing how quiet the room became when this man started to speak.!

His story was outstanding and I'm so glad they taped it because I can't wait to hear it again. It was an honor to have my picture taken with him. The rest of the week has been a breeze. The pressure of the presentation is off and I can really focus on Physics to go with Ed. We're hoping to put together several updates to the web site before I leave for school. On Thursday we had an interesting day and left the office for a while to tour the NASA campus. Everything there was gigantic. We saw clean rooms that were the size of warehouses. We stood inside an acoustic resonator room. They also showed up the G-Force simulator that is used to test shuttle payload objects. Thanks Jesus for arranging that afternoon. After the tour we headed over to Fred Dylla's house to enjoy dinner and the evening with him and his wife. Delicious food and good company! It was a wonderful way to wrap up the week and internship. Everything should be a piece of cake from here on out!

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Week of July 16, 2007

CHESSIES! This week was the week of the 1 day Baltimore Extravaganza. A group of us picked Saturday as a great day for the vacation. We woke up and caught an early train out of town so that we could make sure to fit everything in. The plan was to get to Baltimore around 10 in the morning so that we could buy tickets for the Orioles Game. Turns out that we didn’t really need to buy tickets early because the upper deck was practically empty.

After we bought tickets we walked over to the National Aquarium in Baltimore. We had already purchased tickets so we got in to see the fish. The aquarium was well worth our money and they had a pretty cool exhibit on frogs there as well.

For lunch we ended up at a California Pizza Kitchen that was right on the water. I wish we could have found a local place but we were a little pressed for time and we were also heading to a popular local restaurant for dinner.

After lunch came the real fun! We rented paddle boats and went out in the Inner Harbor. These weren’t your average paddle boat though, they were Chessies. They had all the features of a paddle boat but we were riding in style in these dragon shaped works of art! While paddle boating we found a place to buy giant snow cones. It wasn’t a place that was designed to serve Chessies but we asked nicely and they served us right in the boat.

Even after all that the day was only half over. We set off on an “urban hike” to Fells Point. It was a nice walk and we did some souvenir shopping in their old downtown area. Then we sat down and had a large dinner at Bertha’s Muscles. I can now say that I have “Eaten Bertha’s Muscles.” Dinner ran long and we hopped in a cab to the Orioles vs. Chicago White Sox game. Since Ali and I are Cubs fans, naturally we cheered for the Orioles. Enrique cheered for whichever team was winning at the time! By the end of the game we all wanted an Orioles win. Then tied the game in the bottom of the ninth and won it in the tenth! After that we RAN to the shuttle and caught our train home. What a great day! I think we accomplished a large part of the Inner Harbor.

The next day we were tourists again but we stayed in town. We went to the National Postal Museum, The Cathedral, and to dinner at the “Best pizza place in D.C.” It was good, and actually really good re-heated.

This work week has been pretty hectic. I am jumping back and forth between a few different projects. Work with PTEC has been set aside until later in the year so I am focusing on Physics to go. Ed and I have passed a milestone with the site. I plan to highlight that during my presentation next Tuesday. I still have an awful lot to work on before the presentation so we’ll see how things go. Wish me luck!

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Week of July 9, 2007

Let me start by saying that my hypothesis was wrong. I was certain that things would begin to slow down in this town after the 4th of July had passed. I was completely wrong! The weekend after the 4th was very crowded with events since my brother and his wife were still in town. Friday afternoon was fun because the two of the came to visit the ACP. Thank you to everyone for being so friendly when I brought them around! If you were already out of the office and missed me introducing them you didn’t miss too much. Ask around and people will just say that we look alike. (My entire extended family is like that!) So since they were in town we decided to go out to dinner. My girlfriend and I treated them to the Spanish tapaz restaurant called Jaleo. I highly recommend it to future interns. Go as a group and just try all different types of food. One of the highlights for me was trying shark for the first time but it was deep fried. Anything is good if you deep fry it! Saturday also involved some new experiences because we attended the Folk life Festival. There were so many cultural tents from across the world all spread out on the National Mall. I personally liked the Northern Ireland section but there was also a great Mekong candy sculpture tent. You wouldn’t believe that the art was edible. After walking back and forth on the Mall we needed some ice cream. We headed down to the Dairy Godmother in Alexandria. It’s a dessert joint that makes you feel like you’re in Wisconsin, Delicious! After an exciting weekend, Sunday was laundry day. It can’t be all fun and games…

Work this week has been very interesting. Along with continuing my progress with the Physicstogo website I have started work on the PTEC site. I’m not sure how much we will actually get with the PTEC site but it has been nice to read some articles on teacher education and explore the web site. During this work we the interns were able to leave the office for a couple events. On Wednesday afternoon we were given a tour of The National Institute of Standards and Technology. Enrique and Krystyna arranged for us to walk all over their huge campus. We met lots of different people and visiting the labs really opened my eyes to the different types of research that are going on. The first people we met were post docs that were working on a new diagnosis system for people infected with Anthrax. They were using nano-biology to develop a way to diagnose Anthrax poisoning within 15 minutes of the test. They said that the current time was a matter of days for a diagnosis. After that talk we toured other areas including where Enrique and Krystyna work. They are conducting research that for the time being is over my head! Our tour concluded with a walk through of the research area of their reactor. Thanks to our fellow SPS interns and the guides for setting everything up. After our tour of the reactor we were all “glowing.” (Ok not that funny) Then on Thursday morning a few of us went to Capitol Hill to meet Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson. We had coffee and got to take our picture with the Senator. After that one of her staffers showed us around the Capitol Building. We got to stand at the center of Washington D.C. and see the old Supreme Court room. The Capitol was very crowded so it took a long time to make it to work on Thursday. Since we were out of the office for so long it was time to play catch up get ready for the weekend! Some of us are heading out to Baltimore, stay tuned.

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Week of July 2, 2007

It is journal time again. This week has been interesting and I feel like I have been all over the place. Over the weekend my sister got married back home. So my girlfriend Ali and I jumped on a plane to Chicago for the weekend. Everything went very well and it was nice to see some familiar faces and family. After a Monday night wedding reception we got back on an EARLY Tuesday morning flight to Washington for work. Tuesday was made even longer because the Cubs were in town so most of us went to the Nationals game. It was a good time because we went with a few other interns from the D.C. area. We sat in the right field but I wouldn't recommend those seats because they are under the only jumbo screen in the park.

The 4th of July was very entertaining. I enjoyed walking around downtown and people watching. Ali and I tried to locate some dramatic readings of the Declaration of Independence near the National Archives. Unfortunately they were nowhere to be found, neither were the free concerts. Perhaps we were in the wrong place at the wrong time but the day was still fun. My brother and his wife came into town for the fireworks. We had heard that going to the Memorial Bridge was a good spot for the show. This time we were not misled because the view was perfect. We were right over the river so we could see all the boats waiting for the fireworks. From that spot you had a good view of other town's fireworks shows not just the ones from the Mall. It was a great show and good time. The best part might have been the fact that we avoided most of the crowd. Our Metro train was not nearly as crowded at the one heading out of the city.

A busy Metro train brings me to Thursday when we attended another Cubs game. You just can't beat those ticket prices for a MLB game! I highly recommend the grilled sausage over any other food you can get there. This journal entry seems highly social so I think it's time to switch to the work aspects of this internship. Ed and I are building the collection and developing new features for Physicstogo. We hope to be over 500 sites strong by the end of the internship. That s a great number to reach for several reasons. Most importantly we can finally say that the site is a truly great resource for personal physics learning. I love this job because I get to show people how much physics plays a role in their lives. All of the striking images can be explained using materials on the website. We're going to keep pushing along but it seems like it is almost time to begin work on the PTEC website. We are still working out exactly what I will be doing but I'll have more on that at a later date.

Have a great day! Thanks for reading.

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Week of June 25, 2007

Welcome back to my journal!

This week has been absolutely huge. Almost every day this week has had some sort of event. Over the weekend we saw some more tourist sites. On Saturday morning the group walked through the Botanic Gardens. I think we all enjoyed the flowers and plants from around the world, definitely worth seeing if you come into town. After that we hiked over to the monuments again. Thanks to Meagan for arranging our Washington Monument tour. The views were great and pictures through the glass turned out really well. I can almost construct a panoramic shot of the entire city! After that it was museum time followed by dinner in Georgetown for a few of us.

After the weekend was when things really started to get crazy. Tuesday night was the CNSF event. Big shots from the science world gathered to praise the NSF for funding their projects. What an excellent opportunity to meet and greet! I was happy to be introduced to a few members of the AAS. We talked for a while. It's always great to learn more about one of the science member societies. 2 hours flew by and I wished that I could have stayed longer. On Wednesday we were lucky to meet with the ACS and tour their building. I feel like some great connections were made those nights. I handed out my card to several people.

Thursday was a day that covered both ends of the spectrum. In the morning I went to the Illinois Constituent Breakfast where I met Barack Obama! I'll have a picture to prove it as soon as the email me. Then in the afternoon there was the ACP company picnic. Everyone came out for a little fun in the sun. There were raffles, music, food, and demonstrations. Let's begin with the raffles. I won! Too bad it was a car wash kit and none of the interns have cars. Oh well, it was still plenty of fun to play "The price is right." After that the SPS interns hosted several demonstrations about the physics of Mentos and Coke. That was a blast! Pun intended. I would have never believed that the experiment would work so well. I credit Justin and Ryan for coming up with a plan, then a great method for setting off the reactions in the bottles. ACP summer picnic was an excellent chance to relax and meet more people in the building. Good for making connections and networks.

Well that's all for now! Have a great week!

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Week of June 18, 2007

It's Friday again! The perfect day to write a journal because I'm always in a great mood. It was another great week and I can't believe this internship is going so fast. It feels like we just moved in yesterday. Part of that must be from the fact that we are constantly busy. Here's a little bit of what has gone on...

Starting last week most of us began helping Justin prepare a presentation for elementary school students. One of the fun planning sessions was when we went outside to do "research" on the mentos and diet coke "theory." We tried to show conservation of momentum in a rolling rocket car but I think we just ended up making a mess and confusing passing cars. Unfortunately I went back in the building to get some work done and missed the grand finale. Hopefully Ryan can launch another rocket at the picnic next week!

On the actual day of the presentation/lab with the elementary school students we demonstrated height vs. speed using ramps and skate boards. We pretty much nailed it! It was so much fun to see the kids in action using the Hot Wheels Radar Guns. In addition to teaching how scientists plot data, we included a lesson on seat belt safety which involved Play-Doh people. When one of the kids screamed "My guy split into 3 pieces!" I knew that we were getting the point across. What a great experience.

As for the rest of the time at the office... Ed and I hit a little snag that set us back. We have most of that handled now and we're pressing forward and continuing to build up the site. We have set some ambitious goals and hopefully can continue to stay on pace. I'm learning a lot while at the office. I get attend different types of meetings all the time and get to experience life in the real world.

Everything is going very well and I can't wait until next week. Stay tuned for info on CNSF, visiting ACS, and the AIP summer picnic!

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Week of June 11, 2007
Well here it is Friday again. Work week #2 is now over! I use the exclamation point there because I can't believe how fast it went this time. Ed and I have had a deadline for the new update of our page. With that hanging over our heads I think it made the week fly by. Thankfully we got everything we needed and it should all look pretty nice when it changes over. Even if you're not bored at work you should check it out at http://www.physicstogo.org. Our focus with Physics to Go is to bring people in with stunning physics related images. Then we can keep them around to learn about what they are seeing!

Today Ed and I actually performed our own science experiment. We were amazed by a certain photograph of a light bulb that had been removed from its vacuum state. The filament immediately burns and a puff of smoke rises up. The image we found looked so nice that we weren't sure if the picture was a fake. On our second try we managed to capture an image that was somewhat similar (Just not professional) to the work of the German photographer. It was quite a sight!

Weekends here are great so far. There is so much to do! The monuments are outstanding and hopefully the museums will be even better. A good thing about this city is that mostly everything is free to look at. That helps a TON because we are all basically poor college students trying to save up for next semester. One of the free events from the list is the Jazz concerts in the sculpture park. We're about to head out to that so if it's good...you'll hear about it next week!

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Week of June 4, 2007
Well the first work week is nearly over now. A lot has happened since arriving here on Saturday. It all began with me being the last to arrive Saturday evening. My plan was delayed and everyone was at the dorm when I arrived. There were lots of smiles and formal greetings. Initially I did not know what to expect but so far everything is going great. Everyone is friendly and willing to help. I will be living with Justin for the summer. He is going to make a great roommate. He s very nice and we re both from the Midwest. After settling in during the weekend it was time for the internship to begin.

Monday morning was very hectic since nobody wants to be late on their first day! We assembled as a group and headed for ACP. Despite looking like clueless interns we managed our way through the commute and arrived to work early. There we were treated with breakfast before the insanity began. There were so many people to meet that it made my head spin. Hopefully some of the names and faces stuck with me.

Now if Tuesday was not 21st birthday then I believe the office would have seemed a little less hectic. Oh well, it was a pleasure meeting even more people on day 2. I was even recognized at the monthly birthday bash which happened to fall on that day. A owe a thank you to everyone for their well wishes and presents on my birthday!

With the work week nearly over I look forward to a relaxing weekend and possibly some sightseeing. Get my batteries recharged before Ed Lee and I get back to work on Monday morning.

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