Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fun In Silence

For the rest of this week, Lisa Jo Epstein will be teaching the class, and today was day one. Lisa Jo Epstein is the co-founder of a theater company called Gas and Electric Arts, as well as a theater director and educator.
During the morning and afternoon class she had us do many different exercises. There really wasn't a time where I was doing absolutely nothing. The one thing I really liked about the exercises was that everybody was involved, nobody was left out. I feel like during our regular class discussions, there is only a handful of kids who are actively participating. Some reasons the rest might not participate is maybe because, they're shy, afraid of judgment, intimidated, or feel like what they have to say does not matter. But today everybody was able to participate, and by what I saw, everybody enjoyed it. The one thing that I liked the most about today's class was the silence. During the majority of our exercises we were not allowed to say a word, some involved coming up with random noises, but no words. It is important to be heard and to be able to express yourself, but should that always be with words? No, today we learned how important it is to be able to communicate and express yourself without talking.

After class, I ate dinner with the majority of my cohort. We went pretty early and I think that might just be what we'll have to do for the rest of our time here, if we want to avoid the ridiculously long lines. I didn't go to the gym this morning like I regularly do, so after dinner I headed straight to the gym.  I was only there for maybe an hour and a half when it was time to go if I wanted to make it in time for the ice cream social. The ice cream social was an event located in the quad for the Summer Discovery students. We were given two scoops of any ice cream we wanted accompanied with a small selection of toppings. This was a time to just have fun, socialize, and eat a yummy frozen treat.  Now doesn't that sound like a great way to end an already amazing day?

Theater Of The Opressed

This morning my usual routines went forth , but  I actually got breakfast this morning , which was quiet refreshing and prepared me for the long day to come with Lisa Jo Etstein( From the theater of the oppressed) Workshop.When we walked into class, I was surprised that all the desk were spread out throughout the classroom. It turned out that we actually were going to be sitting on the ground today.

When the teacher came into the class it was a little odd because you could instantly sense the weirdness throughout the classroom. The different workshops that we were doing were things that you wouldn't ordinarily think of , such as being responsible for a human being  by control their movement with your hand and your body. It was somewhat interesting , but got me thinking of the possible reason she would have us doing this. I started thinking and my thoughts got mixed up when she added four people for us to be responsible for with the movements of our bodies.I came to the conclusion that when I had only one person to control , it was easier to actually lead and be successful in what I wanted to accomplish. As I received more people to control , I realized that I had to be more cautious to be more successful because it got progressively harder.This can be applied in many leadership forms such as president.

The next workshop dealt with molding.We each had a partner and we had to see how it is being a sculptor and make a design, but out of a person. This may seem a little odd but it was actually another exercise dealing with leadership and also with creativity.After that we did a dialogue without speaking but by making yourself into a statue while the other person responded. This was really fun and actually got me to expand my mind to think of new ideas.Lastly we participated in form theater were we got to interpret what we thought of what was going on in the silent acting. Then we actually got a chance to offer solutions to the problem after we figured out what was going on .  

After class ended I read a little more of the" Theater of the oppressed" and then hung out with friends until it was time to head to our rooms. I am looking forward to another day with Lisa Jo Etstein because I believe that although it is weird now it is because the things that are being introduced to me are new and it will take time to get used to , but within the next couple of meeting , I will truly understand the meaning of all this" weirdness"


The first day of working with Lisa Jo Epstein from The Theatre of the Oppressed was quite interesting.  I think it was strange to go from having Adnan and Will talk to us about how we are made to constantly conform and follow directions, to having a much more structured environment with Lisa in charge today.  I am not sure how much I liked that stark difference in ideals, but I feel that I definitely benefited a lot from the exercises we did in class today.

David's Dr. Seuss Pants
This morning, Prof. Lamas made a short introduction about Lisa and The Theatre of the Oppressed and then let us know that he was not going to be in the classroom again today.  I miss having him and Michael teach us but I think it is good that we are exposed to different teaching styles; besides, they're usually just right outside the door.  From the moment she stepped in the room, Lisa brought a slightly quirky, but super enthusiastic and fun vibe to our class.  Yesterday, Prof. Lamas wrote up a dress code that Lisa wanted us to follow for today, so we all showed up in long pants and were wondering what sorts of activities would require such clothing and not allow shorts.  I still don't know why we were supposed to wear long pants because we didn't do any type of tumbling or extreme exercises that long pants would have helped prevent our legs from getting scratched up or anything.  Even so, my friend David (not from my cohort) wore some great pants that made the dress code worth while! 

During that first workshop, we created a class handshake made up of a collection of handshakes that we made in pairs earlier that morning.  We did many activities like this one, where we would get into groups of 2-6 and focus on honing our communication skills. I felt like I was learning a lot more about the people in my class just from these simple exercises and when we continued them in the afternoon session, I had a chance to bond even more with classmates that I don't normally hang out with.  We have two more days with this woman and I am interested to see what she has in store for us!

I See Rainbows

The Physics Academy always satisfies and leaves me in awe. Today, we went into more depth of the powers of the mystical oscilloscope. But before we went straight into the lecture the lecture about the oscilloscope, we talked about light, frequency, and wavelength. We used a light diffraction gradient to view that white light contains all the colors in the rainbow. It was very cool looking at around the room and literally seeing rainbows everywhere. Makes you think about the guy who invented this and how he reacted. Either way that small lecture was really interesting and insightful.

We went back to go even more in depth about the oscilloscope. We talked about how to use even more features, as if it wasn’t a complicated tool already. For the lab, we were going to use the oscilloscope to find Planck’s constant, which is the “c” in E=mc squared. I felt very comfortable with today’s lab because the lecture was very clear, so our group was able to set up and start with ease. We did have some slight problems, but we were still able to understand the lab and complete it early.

The Infamous Oscilloscope

Today, I finished my mission of tasting all the foods at Houston Market. I have to agree with Ed Healy’s advice that he gave me at the beginning of the program, the pizza is killer. Yes, the pizza is killer and in my opinion, the best meal that they have, aside from the Insomnia Cookies. After the dinner, the rest of the cohort went to the gym to burn off the calories they gained. Clara and I decided to go running since we couldn’t go into the gym.  I really needed the run, especially after getting tired quickly at soccer yesterday.

Today was very fun and I can’t wait for what tomorrow has to offer.

Identity Crisis

This morning, I broke the trend of the past two days and slept in until 7:15. I was glad for the extra hour of sleep, but I discovered that I’m much better at getting out of bed with my alarm clock when I know I have to train, not just go to breakfast. Oh, the love-hate relationship going on with my snooze button… Breakfast is getting a little tedious, but I think I’ll manage to survive the food here. I’m used to eating the same thing over and over again, because during the school year all I eat in the morning is oatmeal, but it’s somehow it feels different at home.

Today’s lecture was on another mind-blowing concept of modern physics–quantum mechanics. Apparently, light has all kinds of identity problems. We already learned that light is a wave, but that the light waves are made up of particles called photons. Today we learned that depending on how you view photons, they behave like particles or waves. I was very confused, but Bill and Ryan reassured us that that was okay; most physicists are confused too.  Bill also gave us a quick tutorial about experimental uncertainty, and then explained our afternoon lab. Our assignment was to determine Planck’s constant by finding the energy and frequency of LED light waves. 

Ryan shows us the intensity of light waves from an incandescent bulb
Thus far, I had been trying to steer clear of ethnic foods, but tonight I finally visited the taqueria station and ordered chicken and rice. Of all the food that I miss from home, rice is probably the thing I miss the most. I usually eat rice every night, and it’s been really strange not having any. I think when I go to college I’ll follow my dad’s example and make huge batches of fried rice that will last for weeks.

As a little break from routine, there was an ice cream social tonight. It was a great opportunity to meet new people, and of course, it’s hard to turn down free ice cream. To justify consuming all that fat and sugar, Ivette, Chloe, Alysa, and I went to the gym for a workout. With friends who are as enthusiastic about exercise as I am, keeping in shape over the summer is going to be less difficult than I thought it would be.

Ice Cream, You Scream

Today was not very different than usual.
I met members of the cohort for breakfast then headed back to my room to get my stuff for class. I walked down the streets of Philly with my iPod blasting in my ears. I sat through about a two hour lecture then headed to lunch with my classmates. For lunch I had a tuscan chicken sandwich with potato wedges and water. Though the food at the dining hall is rather delicious, I'm starting to miss my mothers cooking. It's been two weeks since I've had a home-cooked meal, it's a bit saddening. After lunch it was back to the lecture hall for a short lecture then up to the lab. In lab we worked on finding Planck's constant. I was very proud of my group. The number we came up for Planck's constant was only off by a few tiny digits.

 After being released from lab around 3:00 I headed back to my dorm to do some laundry. After doing laundry I headed off for an early dinner with the cohort. We wanted to eat early so that we could go to the gym(those of us who are sixteen and up.) Ivette, Mariko, Chloe, and I met at 6:20 and headed off to the gym. We were at the gym for about an hour and a half before we went back to campus for the ice cream social.

Most of the "social" in "ice cream social" happened in the line. I got cookies and cream ice cream and chips ahoy ice cream topped with caramel sauce and whipped cream. All of the students sat in the quad and surrounding areas as we socialized and ate our delicious frozen treats to end another day of hard work.

I remember in my pre-essay for the program, when asked why I wanted to be a part of the ILC for reasons other than exposure to schools and the wonderful experience, I said for me it was to finally be surrounded by people with common interests. I can definitely say I've found this place. The topics at lunch never cease to amaze me.  I can sit at lunch and bring up topics from the lecture and everyone knows exactly what I'm talking about. It's reassuring to know that not everyone just wants to talk about partying and fashion; there are people out there that don't mind talking about intellectual subjects every now and then.


Everyday, class pushes me to the brink of understanding.  Today, it pushed me a little farther.  Ryan lectured us in the morning about the duality of light as a wave and a particle.  Light will behave as a wave in some situations, but in others it is seen as a bundle of particles called a photon.  One theory explains half of light's behavior, and on explains the other half. So is light a particle or a wave? Yes. Don't worry, Ryan assured us that no one really understands this branch of physics.  

After that head-spinning lecture, Bill took over and taught us about experimental error and uncertainty.  I hope to pursue a career in scientific research, so this lesson was very pertinent.  There are many things that can go wrong in an experiment, whether it's the fault of equipment, scientists, or something completely random.  To have a good result, a scientist must take many measurements and report the uncertainty that goes along with their mean number.  Although scientists go through a long process before they can report a confident result, that answer has a lot of evidence backing it.  

By 12:30, I definitely needed an hour of lunch to let the morning set in.  After we returned, we went straight up to the lab and measured Planck's Constant for different LED light bulbs.  We got the chance to use a lot high-quality equipment and I was super excited when my group got an accurate answer.  

After class, I helped Mariko with her soccer training.  I know this sounds strenuous, but I basically threw balls at her head for about twenty minutes and she amazed me with her soccer talents.  After dinner, I went on a run with David, and we got back just in time for the Ice Cream Social.  A nice cool bowl of ice cream was the perfect way to end a long and crazy day.