Monday, November 8, 2010

Louisiana Science Teachers' Association Meeting & X-Rays

I've been away on travel to the Louisiana Science Teachers' Association (LSTA) Meeting last week in Monroe, LA.  LIGO goes to present workshops and to advertise the Science Education Center (SEC) though a booth in the exhibit hall. 

Our booth in the exhibit hall featured a projection of the LIGO documentary "Einstein's Messengers", the Visible Vibrations exhibit from our exhibit hall, 'snacks' (inexpensive, miniature versions of exhibits that teachers can build and use in their classrooms - the Exploratorium has a nice catalog of 'snacks' here), brochures, and posters.  While it was tiring being on your feet all day interacting with the teachers, it was also extremely rewarding!  One of the most inspiring people I interacted with wasn't even a teacher.  One of the security staff was so fascinated by the Visible Vibrations exhibit, that he kept coming back and interacting with it for most of the day!  To see someone who isn't even our target audience (at least that day) exploring the physics involved was extraordinary.  On top of that, he made some of the most spectacular vibration patterns I've ever seen!

LIGO also presented two one-hour workshops.  The SEC director presented one on motors and I presented another one on the LaserFest kits that I based the LaserFest Teachers' Day on a few weeks ago (you can read more about it here).  I had enough kits for 30 attendees, but my workshop was at the end of the day on Friday and only had about 10 teachers attend.  While I was a little disappointed (my ego had me convinced that EVERYONE would want to come to MY workshop), it was also a blessing in two ways.  The first way is that I got to have a lot more one-on-one time with the teachers and they had much more time to ask deeper questions than they would have normally.  The second way is that there were extra kits to be had.  The teachers seemed quite happy when I told them they got to keep their kits and, when I asked if they would like to take another kit with them to share with other teachers at their school, their faces lit up.  Each and every one of those kits has now found a good home in a Louisiana classroom.

Today in History...

Today is the 115th anniversary of the X-ray (if you hadn't noticed from Google's Doodle for today)!  I can't count how many of these I've had in my life and how many times they have saved me from some medical trouble, everything from dental cavities to finding my kidney stone.

Speaking of which, the X-ray below is after I had a ureteral stent placed between my kidney and my bladder to bypass my kidney stone and allow my kidney to drain.  The stent is clearly visible and the kidney stone is the little shrapnel looking thing about a third of the way down the stent.  The top curl is in my kidney and the bottom is in my bladder.  I am so happy that both the stone and the stent are gone!