ARC Blog

Welcome to the participant blog for the 2016 ARC/ORNL High School Summer Math-Science-Technology Institute! Here, you can follow along with the students and teachers who are participating in this two week research experience. A different author will write each entry. Enjoy reading about their time at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory!

Wednesday, July 20

Lexie P., Student, Lexington, VA

Today, after spending the day at ORNL, everyone packed up their volleyball and swim clothes and we headed to the Clark Center. The majority of the people played volleyball, drastically improving from before dinner to after dinner! Several people swam too. Jade reported that the swimmers had a lot of fun, including playing volleyball in the water. This was one of the best nights that I've had yet.

Monday, July 18

Jarrett B., Student

RobotAt the Robotics team, we learned how to program our robots using two infrared sensors. We connected the sensors on the bread board located at the front of the robot. We did this connecting the sensors to two red LED lights. The lights helped tell us that the sensors were picking up the object in front of the robot. The LEDs were connected to the IR sensors using wires and resistors. The wires connected the sensors and lights while the resistors controlled the flow of voltage. After the lights and sensors worked properly we programmed our robots to move around the room without running into any obstacles. The program we used was given to us in the book that came with the robot. The sensors picked up the infrared radiation from the objects and turned based on which sensor detected the radiation. Our robots were successfully able to maneuver around the room while being able to avoid objects in its path.

Saturday, July 16

Winter S., Student, Schoharie, NY

Rainforest AdventureToday we went to Rainforest Adventure! It was not what I expected at all. I thought it would be outdoor, but it was actually an indoor zoo. When we first arrived, we watched an hour long animal show. It was really cool to watch. The guy who performed was named Jim but since he loved animals and zoos he asked for us to call him Jungle Jim. He was basically an animal magician. He made animals disappear and made different ones appear. It was actually really cool and I still have no idea how he did any of it. It was very impressive! Tarantula He also showed us a lot of animals such as doves, hedgehogs, legless lizards, and even a very huge tarantula and even let us pet them. It was really cool to feel the spines of a hedgehog. Jungle Jim also let the legless lizard lick our faces. It was a pretty cool experience that I will never get to do again. I even held the tarantula despite my very large phobia of spiders. I may have cried, but I still did it and I'm very proud of myself for that. That was the first and last time I will ever hold a tarantula! Rainforest Adventure was a really great place; it had really good animals and good performers. I'm really thankful that ARC sent us to Rainforest Adventure because it was a great experience and a lot of fun.

Saturday, July 16

Daisy S., Student, Asheville, NC

Today we went to Dollywood! We got there at lunch time so everyone went to eat some food. Next we all split up and started exploring. The first roller coaster I rode was the Thunderhead which was a cool wooden roller coaster. From then on we went from roller coaster to roller coaster. Lots of people conquered their fear of heights today!

Suddenly around 1:00 disaster struck! The skies darkened and because lightning was within 10 miles of the area, we had to wait for the rides to open up. The group I was with waited outside the Wild Eagle (my favorite ride) and played heads up and a few card games. We even befriended one of the hosts who joined in. :)

After the Wild Eagle opened we had a great time riding it and then we continued exploring. Once it started raining we figured we were already wet so we did a few water rides. We got super soaked and rode some more roller coasters in an attempt to air dry. Very tired, we decided to eat dinner and went to a pizza shop where we met an intern from ORNL! It was a nice surprise to meet a fellow nerd and we talked for a while about our experiences. After eating dinner we went back to the bus and rode home happy and tired.

Friday, July 15

Jade N., Student, New Tazewell, TN Boat Tour 2

After our tour of the University of Tennessee, the high schoolers, advisors, and teachers went on a boat ride with an included dinner show.Boat Tour 1 The food was good with the dessert being amazing. After dinner, my friends and I went outside to see the view of Knoxville from the water. It was beautiful. We enjoyed the sunset view with the mountains beside the sun and the water below it. During our boat tour, we saw some inappropriate but funny actions from a passing speed boat. It made us end the terrific day with laughter.Boat Tour 3

Wednesday, July 13

Nicole M., Student, Ridgway, PA

After breakfast, we headed to Oak Ridge National Laboratory. I’m in the supercomputer group and we all met up with Papaw when we got there. Papaw taught us how to make an Ethernet cable. We had to strip the wire on both ends, then untwist the wires and straighten them. Then, we had to put the colored wires in the correct order. On or our mentors, Jake, helped me do the next part. We had to put the correct colored order of the wires into an AJ45 plug. Once it was in the plug, we had to clip the extra wires off of both ends. We had to make two of these wires, a red and white one. Then after we finished making both wires, we had to test them to make sure they worked. Today turned out to be a very exciting day.

Wednesday, July 13

Caleb C., Student

I found today exciting because my research team (Proto-MPEX) got to see the MPEX preform during our research hours. MPEX is a plasma containment machine that experiments with different variants of plasma and material samples. My team and I managed to get a glimpse of the plasma inside the machine. The video below shows what we saw. The bright pink flash is the plasma in the machine. Be patient – you’ll have to wait for it, just like we did.

Tuesday, July 12

Neil S., Teacher, Roxbury, NY

This morning was our earliest day yet. The teachers and students gradually made their way down for breakfast and everyone was excited to spend the day at the lab. This would be our first full day with our research groups and our work was about to really begin. Once we reached the lab each group was dropped off at their respective buildings. My group would spend the week at the Spallation Neutron Source (SNS) working on crystallizing the protein lysozyme. The sample we used came from egg whites but this protein can also be found in mucus, saliva, and tears. Ultimately once we have the crystals we were going to use them to build a model of the structure of the protein.

We only had a few hours to work because at 11:00 a.m. we had a presentation on Powerful Posters. One of the tasks assigned to each student and teacher group was to produce a research poster reflecting the work that we had done during our two week program. Very few of us had done this before so it was a new experience. The presenter first went over the purpose of creating posters. They are meant to summarize the research in an easy to read manner. Next she went over the structure of the poster. Finally we were given the opportunity to critique examples of posters others had created. We needed to use what we had learned to discuss if it was done well or to tell what was not done correctly. Once the presentation was over we all got dismissed for lunch.

Tuesday, July 12

Andrea J., Student, Rockford, AL

We went to the AMSE Museum today. There, we went into the auditorium and used a Van de Graaff generator on one of our fellow students making her hair stand up. Pat showed us how the static electricity could transfer from her onto another person. Each time she shocked someone, her hair would lay flatter and flatter. We also used other cool static electricity gadgets.

Eventually, we got to self-guide ourselves through the museum. The museum had a very cool gift shop with lots of games and unique souvenirs. The museum itself had an immense amount of hands on activities such as mind puzzles and games. Even though it gave its fair share of history it also had a great variety of options as to what we could look at. It was bright, colorful, and fun.

Afterwards, they gave each of us a 3D printed atom molecule that was super cool. Speaking of 3D printing, they had a 3D printed car that looked better than my own car. It was a pretty shade of blue, and it was a sports car looking print. I would highly recommend this activity!

Monday, July 11

Tanner, B., Student, Wilkesboro, NC

Today we went to Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the first time. After going through security we split into tour groups and were on our way. My group went to see the WORLD'S FIRST Graphite Reactor first, which many believe to mark the beginning of the Atomic Age. We stepped inside and I was immediately captivated. The Reactor's magnitude and complexity mesmerized me and left me wanting to learn more. Next, we went to ORNL's Robotics building. We entered the building's main research area where massive pieces of machinery are manipulated by the well-trained hands of the Oak Ridge staff. After a few demonstrations, we departed to meet our research groups. Both buildings, unique in their own ways, were interesting and educational in different ways.

Sunday, July 10

Jennifer S., Student, West Jefferson, NC

On Sunday afternoon, we all attend a ropes course and canoeing activity. We were not only going to attend these activities but also use this time to get to know each other better. Most of us were still awkward around one another but these activities were such a great "ice breakers". We would all have to work together when it came time to do these activities.

We split into two big groups and we were taken to each activity. Within these activities, we all learned that communication among one another was very important in order to achieve the ultimate goal. The goal was, for example, finding the cure for "blindness", working in pairs to paddle a canoe, and trusting one another on the ropes course. These activities demonstrated what it takes in order to succeed in any activity.

Sunday, July 10

Jared K, Student, Cumberland, MD

After our hotel breakfast, we gathered in our conference room, awaiting further instructions. We were given index cards with stickers on them, ranging from Minions to storm troopers. After we paired up with other students who had similar cards, we formed our groups and were handed a packet, a list of materials, and a challenge: to design and build a race car that would travel the farthest distance out of the other groups. We were given an hour to follow the first set of instructions that included a template for our experimental car. After fumbling around, trying to build a model that would hold together and that looked similar to the model, our group members tested our initial model. Cars swerved left and right, with very few of them successfully following a straight path. After many trials, we identified errors in our first model and got started building our revised model. We were given a second hour to execute our new plan. My group designed a more aerodynamic car out of styrofoam, using coffee stirrers for axels and clay to hold them place. We tested the second model, with a bit more happiness and hope resulting from these trials. After we were confident in our results, we gathered as a group and tested out cars in multiple races. Some groups surprised everyone and achieved very far distances, while some were still driving in circles.

It was amazing to see the design process, from the beginning plans, to the execution, errors in design, and improvements before the final results. I appreciate the efforts and patience of the resident teachers and my other teammates. I can't wait for tomorrow.

Saturday, July 9

Bryan E., Whitesburg, KY

Today, I left my home in Whitesburg, Kentucky to head to Oak Ridge, TN for the ARC/ORNL Summer Science instiitute, I was feeling really excited about this. I drove with my family to Tennessee and the ride was really long.

My time arriving at the hotel felt pretty comfortable. The staff were friendly, they were free snacks, and the other students were friendly. It felt like I was welcomed into the hotel.