Pre-Workshop Training- Day 1

As I said in my first post, I am completing a summer RET in photonics under Professor Theodore Fritz at Boston University.  Start reading there if you want the story from the beginning.

I hit awful traffic driving from Sunderland, MA to Warren Towers Garage at Boston University, in the form of a major accident on the Mass Pike (I90 east, for those not from the area).  I made it to the garage at 8:55 am, and just made it for the start of the training day. 

Day 1 of training started out with a continental breakfast, which had bagels, fruit salad, all kinds of morning beverages, and those awkward moments where you are constantly introducing yourself.  It would have been cool if they had everyone send in a blurb for the application process, and sent that blurb out to everyone else, so you could get to talking about other things.

From 9:30-10:30 am, we went over introductions, and in typical teacher fashion, one person introduced another.  I forgot how much fun that is!

From about 10:30-11:00 am, we went over the summer schedule as a group, agreeing that we would be here all days of the program, working 9-5 and such.

Until around noon, we went around the BU campus, taking a tour and getting our BU ID’s and our logins and passwords for the internet.  It’s awesome that our ID’s say “Visiting Scholar” on them, making me feel super important!

We then had a lunch to feed a small army, with a platter of maybe 6 types of sandwiches and delicious salads.  The real winning factor here was the Cape Cod potato chips; I haven’t had those in ages.

We continued on with our day, with an Introduction to Photonics by Professor Emeritus Mike Ruane.  This took about an hour, from 1 pm or so to 2 pm.  It was really interesting, but also super confusing, as I haven’t studied much about light since my sophomore year of college. 

Helen Fawcett then took us on a tour of the Photonics building, which is absolutely beautiful.  We saw all the shared laboratories and talked about some general laboratory safety.  It was awesome to see Scanning Electron Microscopes and other super expensive lab items up close.  Then, we were surprised as the Photonics center scheduled a free ice cream truck outside.  We had an ice cream social and were able to meet many of the undergraduate and graduate students working in different laboratories.

Finally, we concluded the day with about an hour of laboratory safety training.  It was very similar things to what I say in my safety training, except there were a whole host of phone numbers to copy down to get in touch with specific departments over specific issues with items. 

We were told that the photonics center is a very synergistic place, and it absolutely is from what I can see.  It’s pretty fantastic that so many different departments come together and work out problems.  I wish my experience at UMass was more like this.  Maybe it’s gotten better with the new Integrated Science Center, but I was only there for a year with it open. 

First Meeting Professor Fritz’s Lab

I am completing a summer research experience for teachers through the Boston University Photonics department ( this summer, and thought it would be worthwhile to document the entire experience for anyone interested in learning more about science.

Today we had our first meeting with Professor Theodore Fritz’s lab at Boston University.  The lab I will be spending my summer with BUSAT (, working on the outreach materials and the culminating experience will be a balloon launch from Mount Greylock ( in Western Massachusetts.  The individuals we met with were Nathan and Kamen, who will be our point people throughout this summer process.

BUSAT already has some labs constructed, but they are in more scientific terms than students may understand.  My partner, Fjodor, and I will be revising these laboratories into teacher editions and student editions, and finding connections to other Massachusetts and National Science and Technology Frameworks.

We met in room 613 of the Photonics building, and were able to see the lab before our meeting.  It looked very much like a standard physics./mechanical engineering laboratory, it’s too bad I didn’t take a picture of it at the time.  The meeting lasted approximately an hour, and we were on our way towards our summer experience!