Illusions and Reality

“Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” -Albert Einstein

Marti Goes to Washington – Final Presentation to OPP 26 September 2010

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Things Done During My Einstein Fellowship

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Regular Meetings Throughout the Year

Arctic Sciences Staff Meeting (Weekly)

Antarctic Sciences Staff Meeting (Weekly)

Climate Change Education Group Meeting (Weekly)

OLPA – Einstein Fellows (Monthly)

September 2009

Advisory Committee Meeting for Environmental Research and Education

NSF IT Security Training

NSF Conflict of Interest Training

Earth Sciences Seminar: EarthTime Project: Progress and Potential

Focus Group Feedback for NOAA Education Website Redesign

NSF Program Management Seminar

Einstein Fellows Legislative Orientation

Einstein Fellows Day at the Library of Congress

Cyberlearning Tools for Climate Change Education Workshop

Climate Change: A Smithsonian Education Online Conference

October 2009

Abstract Review for Journal of Undergraduate Research

GEO Brown Bag: “Climate Science and Science Journalism – Parallel Revolutions?” – Bud Ward

*Climate Change Education Group Presentation: “Perspectives on K-12 Climate Change Education from Teachers in the Trenches” – with Heather Pacheco and John Moore

Arlington Café Scientifique: “Earth Science in the Spotlight: Engaging the Public”

Luncheon Meeting with Kent Hughes, Director , Program on America and the Global Economy Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars

*NSF Einstein Fellows Meet and Greet Poster Session

Engineering Seminar: “The National Society of Black Engineers:  Priming the Engineering Pipeline for Our Survival.” – Carl Mack, Executive Director NSBE

SACNAS Annual Meeting

  • Darwin at the Poles I: Where did we come from and where are we going?
  • Darwin at the Poles II: Adaptation and Evolution in the Cold and Dark
  • Ecosystem-Based Climate Change: Adaptation, Indigenous Community Well-Being and Food Security
  • Antarctica’s Climate Secrets

Einstein Fellows Day at the National Academies

President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) Meeting

*Guest Teacher in Elementary Science Methods course at American University

International Polar Year (IPY) Education and Outreach Project E-Meeting

CEOSE Mini-Symposium on Women of Color in STEM

COSEE-West Online Workshop: Ocean Observing Systems

November 2009

ENG Distinguished Lecture: “Changing Education from “Outside-In” Instead of “Inside-Out” – G. Wayne Clough, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution

MPS/GEO Distinguished Lecture: “The Science and Policy of Climate Change” – Mario Molina, UC-San Diego, 1995 Nobel Laureate

National Native American Month Lecture: “Addressing Native American Myths” – Steven Dupuis, Director, Indigenous Math & Science Institute, All Nations LSAMP, Salish Kootenai College

Einstein Fellows Day at the American Center for Physics

Advisory Committee Meeting for Office of Polar Programs

Science Diversity Center Presentation – Bill McHenry, Jackson State University

GEO Brown Bag: “Ecosystems and Organisms in Changing Environments: Interdisciplinary Opportunities from a Backward Look” – Susan Kidwell, U-Chicago

Polar Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences Meeting

National Association for the Education of Young Children National Conference

Panel Summary Reader for NSF IGERT Green Panel

Climate Change Seminar at NASA Headquarters: “Climate Policy: Carbon Offsets and Earth Observations” – Molly Macauley, Resources for the Future

Center for American Progress: “Education Reform in the 21st Century” – Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education, Michael Bloomberg, Mayor of New York, and Kati Haycock, Education Trust

DGE Brown Bag: “Applying the Principles of Don’t Be Such a Scientist to the world of Science Communication” – Randy Olson

December 2009

*Joint Committee Digital Video Conference (Copenhagen-Nuuk-Washington) @ the State Department Presentation on Science Education Week with Renee Crain

GEO Talk: Dr. Holm Tiessen, Director of the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research

*Einstein Fellows Brown Bag Series: “The Current State of K-12 STEM Education” – with Mark Greenman, Chris Tolbert, and Kevin Simmons

Tour of the Art Restoration Lab at the Freer/Sackler Galleries

National Science Board Meeting

Screening of Whiz Kids Documentary at National Academy of Sciences

American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting

  • AGU Film Screening: TARA: Journey to the Heart of the Climate Machine
  • Understanding the Impacts of Climate Change on the Western United States
  • An Earthquake in an Ancient City: The April 2009 L’Aquila Seismic Sequence
  • AGU Film Screening: Hubble’s Amazing Rescue
  • Using Web 2.0 Technologies to Facilitate Science Communications
  • The Tip of the Spear: Extreme USGS Science – Marcia McNutt, Director USGS
  • Geovisualization with Virtual Globes
  • Water, Weather, and Climate in Our Future: What can we know? – John Schaake, NOAA-NWS
  • The Biggest Control Knob: CO2 in Earth’s Climate History – Richard Alley, Penn State
  • Arctic Hydrology and the Role of Feedbacks in the Climate System – Larry Hinzman, UAF
  • Return to the Moon: Latest Science Results
  • Education and Communication for Climate Literacy and Energy Awareness
  • Missing Links! Scientists’ Communication on Critical Global Environmental Change Issues
  • Greenland: An Island of Change in the Biological, Physical, and Social Systems

*ARCUS Meeting Room at AGU Fall Meeting: “Bringing Science to School” Presentation

January 2010

OISE Brown Bag: “Adapting to Changing Glaciers of Peru and Nepal: Realities, Challenges, and Actions” – Alton Byers, The Mountain Institute and John Furlow, USAID

AMS Climate Briefing: “Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation” – Michael MacCracken, the Climate Institute, Kristie Ebi, IPCC Working Group 2, Katharine Jacobs, U of Arizona, Susanne Moser, UC-Santa Cruz

MPS Distinguished Lecture: “Potholes and Speedbumps on the Road to Diversity: COACh Efforts to Smooth the Ride” – Geraldine Richmond, U of Oregon

Fermi Awards Ceremony

GEO Distinguished Lecture: “JOIDES Resolution: Voyages” – Peggy Delaney, UC-Santa Cruz

Webinar: Integrating STEM in the Elementary Years – Why It’s Critical to Start Early

*Brown Bag: “Bringing Science to School: A Guide to Assist Scientists in Bringing Their Research Into K-12 Classrooms”

Einstein Fellows’ Legislative Update: Budget and Appropriations

National Academies of Science – Teacher Advisory Council Meeting

NRC Committee on Conceptual Framework for New Science Education Standards First Meeting

February 2010

GEO Distinguished Lecture: “Implications of Increased Scientific and Policy Support for Geoengineering Research” – Margaret Leinen, Climate Response Fund

ACS Science and the Congress Briefing: “STEM Professionals in the Classroom: Volunteering to Improve K-12 Education” – Angela Baber, NGA; Della Cronin, Washington Partners; Robin Willner, IBM; Francis Eberle, NSTA

NSB 60th Anniversary Distinguished Lecture: “Robotics: Catalyzing a 3rd Wave” – Paul Oh, Drexel

Brown Bag: “NCAR Community Climate Modeling: Current Status and Future Plans” – James Hurrell, NCAR Earth System Laboratory Climate and Global Dynamics Division

Art of Science Lecture: “Monkeys and Apes: Perspectives on the Science of Primatology” – Kaye Reed, NSF – Physical Anthropology

NSTA-Toshiba Exploravision Awards Judge

MPS Distinguished Lecture: “Physics for Future Presidents: Important Science for the Non-Scientist” – Richard Muller, U-California-Berkley

BIO/MCB MiniSymposium: Research at the Interface between Life and Physical Sciences: “Origins of the Genetic Code” – Dieter Soll, Yale; “Surprising Roles for Simple Physical Phenomena in the Origin and Early Evolution of Life” – Jack Szostak, Harvard, 2009 Nobel Laureate

Wilson Center Forum: Teacher Preparation – implementing the Medical School Model

March 2010

Tour of NBC Washington Studios and presentation of NBC Learn

Wilson Center Forum: National Standards and Effective Measures of Student Success

Brown Bag: “Encounters – Radio Experiences in the North” – Lisa Busch, Producer

Lunch Meeting with CPATH RET Teachers

Brown Bag: “NEON – National Ecological Observatory Network” – David Schimel

Brown Bag: “Young Voices on Climate Change” – Lynne Cherry

Brown Bag: “Understanding Impact: Preliminary Results from a District-Wide Field Trial of the NSDL Curriculum Customization Service” – Tamara Sumner, University of Colorado at Boulder

WorldLearning Discussion with South and Central Asia visitors with the International Visitor Leadership Program

State of the Arctic Conference

  • Advances in Understanding Arctic System Components
  • Understanding the Linkages and Feedbacks Between the Arctic System Components
  • Observations of Arctic Change
  • Design and Optimization of an Integrated Arctic Observing System
  • Responses to Arctic Change
  • Linkages and Feedbacks Between the Arctic System and the Earth System
  • Interactions Between the Arctic System and the Earth System

National Science Teachers’ Association National Conference

  • Polar Activities Share-a-Thon
  • CritterCam: Science Exploration from the Wild
  • Planetary Society Lecture: LightSail 1: Launching a New Solar Sail
  • Building an Environmentally Literate Workforce Through STEM Education
  • Become an Einstein Fellow
  • Culturally Competent Science for American Indian Students
  • Free Open-Source Software for STEM

AAAS Seminar: “Science Education from the Classroom to the Capitol”

BIO/IOS Seminar: “Organism – Environment Interactions in a Changing World : A Mechanistic Approach” – John Wingfield, UC-Davis

GEO Distinguished Lecture: “Human Evolution – The Six-Million-Year View from Afar” – Tim White, UC-Berkeley

Brown Bag: “The Ross Sea, the Last Ocean, a Multimedia Presentation” – David Ainley, HT Harvey and Associates

April 2010

Interagency Working Group for Ocean Education Meeting

CReSIS Reverse Site Visit

MPS Distinguished Lecture: “The James Webb Space Telescope: From First Stars to Planets” – John Mather, NASA

ASCD Professional Development Institute: Essential Questions with Grant Wiggins

May 2010

Carolina Coffee with Senator Kay Hagan

National Lab Day Visits to B’nai Shalom Day School in Greensboro, NC

Einstein Fellows’ Day at Goddard Space Center

National Science Board Meeting

GEO Brown Bag: “The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Risers, blow out protectors?” – Jamie Allen and Rodey Batiza, NSF-GEO

OPP Office Advisory Committee Presentation on US/Denmark/Greenland Science Education Visit*

Wilson Center on the Hill Panel: “America’s Top Teachers Focus on Learning and Legislation” *

June 2010

IPY Polar Teachers and Science Conference

  • Urgency of Polar Research
  • Role of Albedo in Climate Research
  • Polar Lows – The Hurricanes of the Arctic?
  • Role of Polar Ice in Global Climate Processes
  • How does IPCC Work?
  • Possible Impacts of Global Warming on Polar Bears
  • Working and Communicating with Northern Communities
  • Past Climate Changes Read from Polar Rock Archives
  • Reindeer Herders & Climate Change
  • Malaysian Antarctic Program
  • Arctic Food Web
  • Connecting Research and Teaching: Engaging Northern Communities and Schools in University Research and Education Initiatives
  • Global Engagement in IPY Education and Outreach
  • Wild Reindeer of East Taymir
  • Impact of Human Activities on Aesthetic Values in Antarctica
  • Biodiversity Change – An Unintended Legacy
  • The MEOP Project: Marine Mammals Exploring the Oceans Pole to Pole
  • In the Penguin’s Fridge – Tie Significance of the Under-Ice Habitat to the Antarctic Pelagic Ecosystem
  • Comparing Mesozooplankton Size-Structure Between the Arctic and Southern Ocean Provides Trophodynamic Insights
  • Cephalopod Beak Guide for the Southern Ocean
  • Polar Education Toolkit
  • Combining Research and Education: Alternative Ways to Involve Scientific Research in Formal Education
  • Seasons and Biomes Project for Students Worldwide
  • To the Ends of the Earth: Youth, Education, and Science in the Polar Regions
  • Bringing IPY Science Home
  • Supporting Teachers and Researchers Beyond the Research Experience
  • Observations and Archiving Lead to Serendipitous Discovery
  • Arctic Peoples and Arctic Research – Success Stories, Contradictions, and Mutual Expectations
  • ISIUOP: Documenting and Representing Inuit Knowledge and Use of the Sea Ice
  • The Iglinut Project: Combining Inuit Knowledge and Geomatics Engineering to Create a New Observation Tool for Hunters
  • Creating an Online Cybercartographic Atlas of Sea Ice
  • The Rise of Killer Whales as a Major Arctic Predator
  • Way up North, Global Changes but Specific Responses
  • Variability in the Plankton Production and Exchange of Nutrients and Biomass Through the European Arctic Corridor in the Present and Future Climate Regimes
  • Physical Factors Controlling Arctic Primary Production
  • On Thin Ice: The Arctic and Climate Change

IPY Oslo Science Conference: IPY is for Everyone: The US National Science Foundation’s Investment in Informal Science Education During IPY with Renee Crain and Valentine Kass *

BIO/MCB PI Conference on Integrating Research and Education Keynote Talk

MPS Distinguished Lecture: “Stereotypes and the Nurture of Intelligence”- Joshua Aronson, NYU

Outreach Visit to Terraset Elementary School in Reston, VA

Brown Bag: “Non-traditional STEM Masters theses: Broadening the Impact of Graduate Education”-Bruce J. MacFadden, IPA Rotator in DRL (EHR)

E20 Einstein 20th Anniversary Summit

July 2010

Einstein Fellows’ Day at National Institutes of Health

PCAST Meeting

Joint Science Education Tour to Greenland J

GEO Brown Bag: “The Google Earth Science Revolution” – Declan DePaer, ODU and Steve Witneyer, JMU


Greenland 26 July 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — martieinstein @ 4:34 pm

These are the posts that I made to the PolarTREC Journal while I was on the trip.

July 17 – All Packed and Ready:

Despite the fact that it is the middle of July and over 90 degrees outside, I have packed a bag with long underwear, wool socks, and fleece. It feels strange to be packing such warm clothes when it is hot outside, but those are what I will need when I get to Greenland on Monday. I almost wish I could leave right now, I am so excited about this trip. Even though I am ready right now it will take awhile to get to Greenland. Tomorrow around lunchtime I will fly from Washington, DC to Albany, NY. In Schenectady, NY I will meet up with a couple of my fellow travelers and we will spend the night there so that we will be ready to catch our early ride with the 109th on Monday morning. So even though I am ready to go now, I won’t actually get to Greenland until Monday afternoon.

July 19 – We’re in Greenland

First glimpse of Greenland from the plane.

This morning started with an early wake-up call – my alarm went off at 4AM so I could be sure to be ready and in the hotel lobby with all my gear for the 5AM pickup by the shuttle to the Air National Guard base. Once on base we went through check-in and a metal detector and then it was on to the waiting room. While I waited for my flight, I met up with the rest of the US members of the Science Education Tour who would be on the flight with me. There were also a number of research teams that were heading to Greenland with us.

As we boarded the plane we were given earplugs which have to be worn at all times since it is very loud inside the plane. Our seats were benches with cargo net backs – not super comfortable, but not too bad either. In our pre-flight briefing they told us we would be stopping in Goose Bay, Canada to refuel. This was a nice stop since it was about halfway to Greenland and gave us a chance to walk around and stretch our legs while they plane was refueled. The airport at Goose Bay also brought out ice cream sandwiches for every one that was on our flight. Back on board the plane we continued passing the time with naps, reading, working on computers, and listening to music.

About three hours after we left Goose Bay, there was a ripple of excitement through the plane as the first views of Greenland could be spied out the small porthole windows. People were all taking turns peering out the windows and taking pictures of the magnificent landscape below us. Soon after that we landed in Kangerlussuaq and we were met by the team from CPS who organized each group to load into trucks and vans to head over to the Kangerlussuaq International Science Support (KISS) building where we will be staying while we are in Kanger. We were issued our room keys and meal tickets and had a few minutes to drop our things in our rooms before we headed over the airport for dinner in the restaurant. Most of the members of our group decided to try a local specialty for dinner, the musk ox burger. It was pretty tasty, but not everyone liked the salsa topping that was on the burgers.

After dinner, we went on a drive to see some of the local sites around Kanger. From several of these vantage points we got our first good views of the ice sheet where we will be heading tomorrow. It is hard to believe that after thinking about this trip for so long I am finally in Greenland.

July 20 – To the Ice Edge

Edge of the Greenlandic Ice Sheet

Today was a great day! After breakfast, we were issued our cold weather gear which we will need when we go up to Summit tomorrow. There was a lot of laughter as we tried on all of the gear that had been issued to each of us. Our gear consists of fleece pants and jacket, insulated bib pants, a huge parka, balaclava, fleece hat, gloves and/or mittens, boots, and a neck gaiter. After our gear was issued we had to pack what we would supplement this gear with, mostly long underwear, warm socks, regular underwear, and a long-sleeve tshirt or turtleneck. Tomorrow on the plane we will be wearing a good portion of our cold weather gear to be prepared for our arrival at Summit.

The organizing of gear took a good portion of the morning. After lunch, we headed out on a less than wonderful road that would take us to the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet. Along the way we stopped and did looked at the life in a couple of ponds including one which had some very strange, as of yet still unidentified orange spherical masses that resembled some kind of fruit. Before too long, we were at the trailhead that would take us to the edge of the ice sheet. To say that seeing the edge of the Greenland Ice Sheet is spectacular doesn’t begin to convey what this experience is like. The wall of ice is massive and at this point it is only a fraction of the thickest part of the ice. To stand there and look at the ice sheet stretching off into the distance and to know that it is covering the vast majority of Greenland is an awe inspiring moment.

We returned from the ice edge along the same route, with only one stop to observe a mother caribou with her calf that were pretty close to the road. Once back we had just a little while before dinner. After dinner we had a team meeting where we shared some expectations about what the experience at Summit and NEEM would be like and talked about our overall goals for the trip. Once the discussion got going, it was a great sharing of ideas and hopes that people have as well as what they already knew about the science that is going on on the ice sheet. The meeting wrapped up with some logistical details about tomorrows flight to Summit – currently scheduled for 10AM.

I know tomorrow will be another great day in Greenland!

Summit Tent City on a foggy evening.

July 23 – NEEM Delayed

Today was a day to learn about some of the vagaries of Arctic research and travel. We woke up this morning to a low cloud ceiling with just a bit of light on the horizon. Last night we were told to have our bags out ready to be loaded on the cargo pallet before breakfast. So we all rolled up our great sleeping bags (that kept us warm and toasty in our tents on the ice sheet) and had our bags ready before we headed off to breakfast, thinking that we would be leaving Summit Camp for NEEM shortly before noon. After breakfast we had the daily camp update and at that point everything still seemed on schedule. Following breakfast, Ben, the camp medic gave an interesting presentation on altitude sickness and a demonstration of the Gamow Bag which is used as a treatment. Since the elevation of Summit is 10,000 feet, many visitors feel some sort of effects from the altitude. The Gamow Bag is an apparatus that allows a patient to be treated for altitude sickness by increasing the pressure around them, thus simulating being at a lower altitude. At Summit, the Gamow Bag effectively lowers the altitude to around 5000 feet which most people can handle. One of the key lessons learned during Ben’s presentation is that it is important to treat altitude sickness at the first appearance of symptoms. If you catch it early, treatment can be effective, but if you wait too late the only thing that will help you is to be evacuated to lower altitudes.

After Ben’s presentation we got the news that the flight to NEEM had been canceled for today and that they were going to pick us up and take us back to Kanger if the plane could get into Summit. NEEM was having a big snowstorm and at this point there was light snow at Summit and the visibility wasn’t very good, but was improving. At this point we settled in to wait for news that the plane had taken off from Kanger. A little after ten we heard that the plane was on the way and once they got to Summit would be on the ground for about an hour to offload fuel. We ate lunch a little early and made sure we had all of our things together so that we would be ready when the plane arrived. As we were waiting for the plane we got news that they had canceled any attempt to fly to NEEM on Saturday as well.

Once we got to back to Kanger we got the updated plan for the rest of our trip. Tonight we will hear a presentation from one of the NEEM scientists who is in Kanger. Tomorrow we will head out to visit Kelleyville Upper Atmosphere Research Station and there is hope that we will make a visit to NEEM on Sunday. We won’t be able to spend the night there, but at least we can see the exciting science that is happening there.

The changing of schedules due to weather making flights impossible is just one of the realities of working in the Arctic.

July 25 – Made it to NEEM!

How far is it from NEEM?

Today we were happy to finally make it to NEEM, even though it was for a short visit. After returning from breakfast, we all donned our cold weather gear once again and headed to the LC-130 to depart for NEEM. The flight to NEEM went up the coast over Disko Bay and the Jacobsavn Ice Field – the views of ocean, glacier, and icebergs were spectacular. Arriving at NEEM we had quite a welcoming committee. There is a documentary film crew filming at NEEM and they were there with their cameras recording our arrival. After our trip to NEEM being delayed by weather for two days we were warmly welcomed by everyone there. The iconic structure of the NEEM camp is their dome, which serves as the main living area for the camp. After a quick visit in the dome, complete with warm chocolate chip cookies, it was time to go see the drilling operation. We went down stairs and soon were greeted with the sight of the drill and the most recent ice core that had come up. In the most recent core there was a 5 cm piece of rock in the core, which indicates that they are getting very close to hitting bedrock. After seeing the drill, we headed into the science trench where they process the ice cores as well as doing some analysis on the ice. Our visit to NEEM was far too short and soon we were back on the plane headed back to Kangerlusuuaq. Our trip back was highlighted by the plane flying at very low altitude over Disko Bay – it felt like we could have reached out and touched the tips of the icebergs as we flew over them. What a great way to end a magnificent trip!!!


Capital Steps and Wolf Trap Memorial Day Concert and Fireworks 31 May 2010

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President's Own Marine Band

It has been a great Memorial Day weekend.  I started off my weekend on Friday night seeing the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and having dinner at Busboy and Poets with Margie.  The movie was great and helped set the

Margie and Heather chilling on the hill at Wolf Trap

mood for my upcoming Scandinavian trip – although it was set in Sweden and I am going to Norway.  Saturday night I went to see the Capital Steps with a group of fellow Fellows.  They are a musical, satirical comedy troupe with a political bent.  It was a great show and they were definitely equal opportunity satirizers, subjecting people all along the political spectrum to their unique blend of musical satire.  Then last night, it was a return to the Wolf Trap Memorial Day Concert and Fireworks that I first attended last year when I was in town looking for an apartment – I can hardly believe that it has been a year since then and that my great Einstein Fellowship adventure has only two months left.  The concert was a mix of American and patriotic music performed by the President’s Own Marine Band.  This was followed by a spectacular fireworks show.  I went with my friends Margie and Heather and we enjoyed a tasty picnic on the lawn.  Watching the fireworks fill the sky over our heads while lying on the hill was amazing!!


Wilson Center on the Hill

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Einstein Fellows and Kent Hughes of the Wilson Center

On May 21, I was very honored to serve as a panelist for the Wilson Center on the Hill’s discussion, “America’s Top Teachers Focus on Learning and Legislation”.  Along with three other Einstein Fellows, I discussed the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) and the America Competes Act.  We offered our perspectives on how these pieces of legislation would affect the wide range of schools; public, private, urban, rural, and all grade levels.  It was an extremely rewarding experience to be able to share my perspectives on education to an audience of my fellow Fellows, congressional staffers, and people representing various organizations that are working to help improve education.

Click here to watch the video of our panel.


Goddard Space Center 17 May 2010

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Last week was an exciting week.  I began the week with a visit to Greensboro to see friends and share some polar science with the kids at B’nai Shalom.  I tried out several different lessons with all the classes at B’nai

Mock-up of Hubble that was used to practice for the recent repair mission.

Shalom from the PreK to the 7th Grade.  I also took a set of Extreme Cold Weather Gear for the kids to try on, which they loved!!  In addition to visiting school, I also hung out with lots of good friends and visited some of my favorite Greensboro spots – Natty Greene’s and the Lindley Park Filling Station.

Space Shuttle Atlantis launches - view from NASCOM Communication Center

On Friday, the Fellows had a field trip to Goddard Space Center in Maryland.  We started our day by taking the certification class so that we could be certified to handle lunar and meteorite samples.  So now I can request a sample disk that has pieces of moon rock and soil to do presentations at schools.  After lunch we got a tour of the center, which is huge!  We saw the communication room where communications are routed between the shuttle, the International Space Station, and various NASA centers.  We also saw the the control room for the Hubble Space Telescope.  A real highlight of the day was standing outside of NASCOM (the communications center) watching the launch of Atlantis on the screens while the sound was pumped live through the speakers in the hall for us.  I would say it was second only to actually getting to see the launch live in Florida.

After the launch we went over to another building where satellites are tested, assembled, and packaged for the trip to the launch pad.  The world’s largest Class 10000 clean room is in that building as well as equipment used to put components through extensive testing.  The testing facility includes a giant sound test chamber, a vibration chamber, thermovacuum chambers, and a giant centrifuge.  All of these things are used to test satellites in all of the conditions that they will experience during launch and while they are in space.


One Day, Twelve Countries 3 May 2010

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Didgeridoo Player at the Ausrtalian Embassy

Yesterday I went on the Around the World Embassy Tour for the Non-EU countries. Next weekend will be the EU countries open houses and I plan to go to some of those as well. There were almost thirty different embassies that opened their doors and welcomed guests with food, music, cultural presentations, and more.  I made it to twelve different embassies in the five hours that I was downtown.  We started off in Namibia where we saw arts and crafts as well as a slide show featuring beautiful scenes from around the country.  Next it was on to Rwanda were there were more crafts, including some really beautiful baskets and jewelry.  They also treated us to Rwandan coffee – delicious!  The next stop was Botswana where we were treated to tastes of pounded goat meat and a dish that included black-eyed peas and corn.  They were also showing clips from the HBO series, The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency based on the book series which is set in Botswana.  After these three African countries we set off for Australia.  The line for Australia was long, but they handed out samples of Vegemite to us while we waited.  Once inside we were greeted by a didgeridoo player, members of the Australian armed forces and were offered samples of Australian wine, cheese, and lamb.  They also had a display of Australian reptiles on loan from the Baltimore Aquarium.  Around the corner from Australia was Kazakhstan, which was one of the most beautiful embassies.  There were ornate carved wood doorways and displays of golden artifacts from the fourth and fifth centuries BC.

After leaving Kazakhstan we hopped on the shuttle bus up Connecticut Ave to near the University of the District of Columbia.  In this area of the city are several embassies in newer buildings.  The first one we went to was Pakistan where we bought some delicious Pakistani food – chicken kabobs with pita, and enjoyed listening to some live music.  Although the embassy was in a new building they had included references to Islamic architectural motifs throughout.  After Pakistan, we headed next door to Nigeria where there was more music and a nice display of arts and crafts.  At this point time was running short so we headed to the last group of embassies that were open in this area: Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Bahrain.  It was a fantastic day and a uniquely DC experience.

Front Door of the Embassy of Pakistan

Crafts at the Embassy of Botswana