Monday, July 7, 2014

The Actual First Day of Penn Life!

Waiting Outside For the Physics Fun to Begin!
Today was a momentous occasion as it was the first day where I met all my teachers for the Experimental Physics Research Academy and some of my classmates! It was loads of fun! To start off my day, I woke up at around 6:30 and got ready to go to breakfast at around 7:30. Turns out it was a long, long line that awaited me once again at the 1920s dining commons. The breakfast was pretty good with eggs, sausage, and potatoes, but there was crowds of people still swarming the areas! So I hurriedly ate breakfast and got out of the area. By the time I got out, it was almost 9:30!
Boisterous Bill Berner Levitating by Magic!

Following breakfast, I met up with all the other physics students at Penn such as Donna, Gwennie, and some new people such as Rahul, Sami, and Isabel. They were in my physics group for today when we did labs today. But I'm getting ahead of myself! We started walking towards the David Rittenhouse Labs which housed giants auditoriums where one of them would be a classroom. When we met the instructor Bob Berner, I instantly liked him! He was a funny and witty teacher who also knew when it was time to be serious and study physics. Another teacher that was there was Mary Panya who gave us a 3 hour lecture on Newtonian mechanics which would have taken us about 3 weeks at El Cerrito High School. It was very thorough and though I knew a lot about what she was presenting on, the lab that they gave us to match the distance vs. time graphs while we walked back and forth from a sensor gave me some challenges to flex my brain in physics again. We did labs like these with groups that they strategically created so that people could help one another while also meeting new people. Before we went off to lunch, Bill, who allowed us to call him, gave us a short presentation on optics such as refraction, reflection, and the mathematics behind these concepts that helped explain them in everyday words. This was very helpful as it was a topic in my physics class that had been lightly touched, but not talked about in depth as it was here!

Some of the Exciting Optical Equipment Bill Used!
Concluding the morning session of classes, we ate lunch at a new place called Houston Market where it's different from the 1920s commons in that it wasn't buffet style, but had food that you specifically ordered and paid for. The food quality at Houston Market was definitely superior to the food at 1920s. The Houston Market also houses the popular Insomnia Cookie where people go there to buy cookies and pastries for their midnight snack needs. After lunch, we went back to our physics class where Bill gave us a bit more introduction and explanation of what we would be doing in the lab. One of the labs that he said we would work on would be a lab about reflection and refraction where we would measure the angle light entered and exited a prism to find something called the index of refraction. The index of refraction is basically how fast light moves in another medium besides air. Another lab that we worked on the afternoon was a lab about lenses where we would use an equation that lensemakers for glasses companies use  to find the focal point for the lenses that they use to help people see. Though they were quite difficult to do, I was thankful for the collection of smart minds that I had within my group in helping us answer these questions.

A Cool Building Found Exploring Philly
 When class concluded, it was dinner time and so I walked to dinner. After eating some ice cream, sandwich, salad, and pizza at 1920s, I went back to my dorm where I took a quick rest and when I woke up, our floormates gathered together in the quad to listen to a presentation. The presentation was about some of the rules that UPenn had such as the boundaries that they had set and the hours of curfew that they had. They were all agreeable and reasonable rules that were meant to keep us safe! After the presentation, our floor group went around and walked around to physically see the boundaries that we couldn't cross without talking with our counselors beforehand. It was pretty cool to explore Philly more such as seeing the Rave theater there!

What Else to Learn in Philly Besides Physics?
In conclusion, today was a pretty exciting new day in meeting my cool teachers and talking with new friends from the physics program. I want to continue to learn so much more in my physics class and really explore and ask questions there. Yet I don't want to be just involved in physics, but also in meeting new people through organized activities or striking up conversations with people I've never met before. I want to grow as a person in Penn, so I can't wait to see my progress!

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