Sunday, July 13, 2014

Science, Technology, Engineering, Math

Last week I was lucky enough to escape the every day droning of work and spend my time rather with a bunch of young girls, hoping to get them excited about STEM topics and conducting various engineering focused workshops (STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math).  It was a camp that was put on, almost entirely, by GE, at no cost to the girls or their families.  The content was developed by GE employees (including yours truly!) and mostly revolved in one way or another around technology or engineering.  We also had what I consider to be one of the coolest logos ever.

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This is absolutely the winkled back side of my GE Girls shirt...
My week was awesome, getting to hang out with young ladies (rising 6th graders through rising 9th graders) and essentially celebrate being a nerd.  We talked about density and buoyancy, then made boats and sent them floating on the reflecting pool in front of the library.  We talked about chemical reactions, then made Alka Seltzer rockets and had a contest to see whose went the highest.  We coded and made some Lego Mindstorm robots dance.  We talked about circuits, switches and electrons, and then made our own working version of a dance pad (Dance Dance Revolution Style).  We made silly putty, ice cream and several batches of lip gloss.

And came up with some fabulous names for our lip gloss
On top of all of this, I got to spend the week hanging out on campus.  I jump upon any chance that gets me back to Notre Dame, especially  in the summer time, a rare season that I did not spend under the shadow of the Golden Dome.  Arguably, one of the best season to be on campus.  Hiding out in the new, shining engineering building during the day and running the lakes in the afternoon was how I would like to pretend how I spent my undergrad years, but it would be a lie.  I ran maybe once every 2 weeks outside (it was South Bend, and I do not run outside once the temperature falls below 40 degrees) and my time was usually spent in the rickety old engineering building, which will always be near and dear to my heart (students these days, I tell you, are spoiled).  But that is exactly how I got to spend last week and it was perfect.

In case you are wondering, yes, I desperately am trying to relive my college days.
Anyways, I just wanted to write and tell you about the good week I had last week and maybe even admit to the revelation I also had, that went something like this: I am very lucky to work for a company that values things like STEM outreach in girls.  So much so that they put on this camp, that besides some good PR, doesn't really benefit them all to much.  These aren't college students we're trying to recruit to join our ranks, these are young ladies that aren't even sure if college is for them.  And we're doing everything in our power to show them that it absolutely is.

Check my instagram feed for some more fun pictures and videos of the week.  Or you  know, #GEGirlsND.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

San Antonio Fourth of July

While our friends jet-set off to fantastic places like Iceland and Brazil for much more exciting vacations, Ben and I (sans honeymoon) generally save our travel budget for various plane tickets to visit family that is spread all across the South and the West.  This last, long, very hot weekend, was spent in San Antonio, visiting Ben's sister, her husband and their two boys.

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Handsome Husband, Adorable Baby
It was a quick visit (I am basically OUT of vacation days, again see Honeymoon), spent mostly drinking water to stay hydrated and finding shady spots to avoid the sun.  In hindsight, visiting the middle of Texas in the middle of summer wasn't our wisest decision ever, but we still managed to have a good time.

Car Seat Photo Montage
Tongues Out!
And, finally, kisses!

We were not the model San Antonio tourists, forgetting the Alamo and other must see sites, requiring a return visit soon.  But we did manage to fit in a decently full day at Sea World, watching the dolphins feed and spending time in the air condition world of the penguins.  We went to see Shamu, of course, and I have to say that I walked away from the show pretty disappointed.  You get their early and sit through what basically amounted to a series of commercials claiming all the good that Sea World does and even one requesting that everyone with a smart phone text some number with the word "world' to donate $5 to their efforts for conserving the oceans.  You know, after you already paid $17 dollars to park and $9 on a soda.  And then the killer whales finally come out, to the soundtrack of some terrible, trying to be inspirational but failing, music.  They do some great tricks, splash quite a bit with their tails and swim around the arena, momma whale with the baby calf in tow.  That part was admittedly fun; however, what I am disappointed in is the trainers and the actual show itself.  Don't they talk about the whales anymore?  What their names are and how their personalities differ?  How they are trained and what they spend their days doing when they aren't in the show?

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No idea what this whale's name is... but I wanted to know!

I feel like Sea World really needs to take a look into the quality of their shows.  Teach the kids something!  You have a captive audience, use it for good, not for guilting parents into donating money to some random charity.  Alright, sorry, rant over.  Here's a picture of the world's most smiley baby looking too cute at Sea World:

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You are welcome.

Overall, we had a great weekend and got to spend some great time with our adorable nephews, enjoy some of the local cuisine (aka margaritas and other tequila cocktails) and even found some cochitos, which is always a happy win in my book.  We plan to head back soon, when the weather is colder here and we are yearning for a little bit of sunshine and a couple of bottles of Dos Equis.