I (Kind Of) Know What I Did Last Summer

This past summer was quite busy, and I was quite bad at keeping track of it. During the summer, I participated in three separate events for CSTEM; a teacher professional development workshop (July), the Black Arts festival in Albany (August), and the 4S conference in Boston (August-September 1).

Professional Development Workshop

For this workshop, a bunch of teachers from around the Capital District came to RPI to learn about applying culturally responsive computing to their teaching. They split into groups based on which areas were most interesting to them, and a few teachers came to Cornrow Curves (I don’t remember how many). The teachers worked on a project that would use the pH concepts that the summer interns came up with. One of the teachers decided to combine programming LED lights with pH sensors, using CSnap as the programming language. Over the course of the workshop, I spent quite a bit of time with the son of one of the teachers. He was quick to understand the Cornrow Curves software and made some great designs – I did let him play Minecraft on my computer for a while.

For the pH sensor/LED lights idea, I was supposed to set up a pH sensor to work with CSnap, but I couldn’t get it to work. I liked getting the chance to breadboard again; I haven’t done that since I was in high school.

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Black Arts Festival (August 5th)

Starting up for the Black Arts festival was a bit difficult. As soon as we (a few other undergrads, Bill, Mike, and I) got there, it started to drizzle. Then it started to drizzle a little harder. Then it started to rain.

Then, thirty minutes of torrential downpour in gale-force winds.

Thankfully, we were able to save the (very expensive) 3D printers, sensors, computer monitors, and some other materials. The paper posters didn’t fare so well. I was thoroughly soaked, so much so that it took the rest of the day for my hair to dry. My breakfast and computer were still warm and dry.

Once the rain stopped and we got everything up & running, the event ran smoothly. I set up a Cornrow Curves program with an infinite loop and talking to passerby was both illuminating and not nearly as difficult as I thought it would be. Talking about the research and how everything works was a good exercise for an introvert like me, and I valued the experience.

The Black Arts festival itself was vibrant with a great sense of fun. We were next to a small stage (one of three at the event), and this small stage hosted a fashion show, dance crew, and a display of the work of the students at the cosmetology program we work with. All in all, it was a good day.

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4S (Society for Social Studies of Science) Meeting (August 29-September 1)

4S is a huge STS conference in Boston every year, and this was my first time going. It was a little overwhelming (I am still an introvert), and there was a ton of interesting stuff going on. I visited at least a couple of panels every day, and learned about some new ideas I may want to incorporate in future work. Later in the week, I went to Mike’s panel and Ron’s panel.

I presented at the Making and Doing session on Thursday, which was a three-hour poster session. Our (Mike, Bill and I) presentation was interactive, and I got the chance to explain generative justice and talk to people about the research. Over time, my discussion followed an informal script that covered pretty much everything and allowed me to show a Cornrow Curves program in an infinite loop. A few kids were there, so I had them guide me through changes to the little program that was running. I was in heels the entire time but I was still ready for more.

I don’t have a picture for 4S, but the general feeling could easily be captured by imagining you’re an introverted penguin who doesn’t like being touched in this picture:

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photo credit: David Stanley

This was certainly an interesting summer, not all of which I talked about here. I learned a lot and had some great experiences.

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