Anna Bednarik: My Sundial Experience 2015

At first, I wasn’t too sure about this program because it made me spend less time with my
friends and family back at home but as I’m writing this blog to the future Sundial members that
are still unsure if they should do this, I’m telling all of you that you should do this program
because of four reasons:
1, Free food.
2. meet new people and make friends.
3. learn new ideas,
knowledge, and perspective.
4. 3 free credits.
Even with all of those reasons to go, I was still
unsure about putting myself out there. However, what pushed me to go through the early start
was because of the wiggle space I could work with the 3 credits. With the 3 credits, I can try a
couple classes and if i don’t like them, I could drop them and still have 3 class credits in the
reserve from the early program. Trust me, it’s well worth it.
This program isn’t just about learning new mathematics or new science stuff. We go on
many field trips to fun places such as science museums, the Tempe marketplace, and space
centers where you can actually simulate a trip to the moon. Amazing right? We also do really fun
activities such as battleship canoeing, scavenger hunting, and hiking. It was honestly the best
first experience I’ve had here at ASU. Plus, you learn so much with in depth conversations to
talk about during the meetings. Dr. Z has a great card system so people don’t talk over each other
giving each person a chance to speak out. This year, we learned about the mysteries of light. The
one that boggled me most was the optical illusions and the oil and water trick that messed with
my mind the most. It was pretty crazy. We even made part of a glass rod disappear right in front
of your eyes. You can even make a light bulb seem like it has two and how that works out as you
learn throughout the program.
In fact, the final project at the very end was quite interesting. It was about the survival
methods to live on Mars using the optics and mathematics we learned. We had the whole idea
about creating holograms to security systems to green gardens and to communications. My group
had the Solar Oven. We had to create an aluminum bowl­shaped oven thingy to have the sunlight
shine down and focus on the focus point of the parabola. We did all the calculations from scratch
to put onto the computer using mathematics as our guide. We had a bit of trouble figuring out the
measurements of the “petals” of the oven we were making to cook some ramen; the traditional
collegiate meal but we eventually found out the formula to tackle this task and made our first
mould of the petal onto plastic. When I’m writing this, I won’t know what it’ll look like since
I’m writing it the day before we start to actually build our project. But I’m sure it’ll turn out great
according to our calculations.
(a bigger size model)
How did we even learn about this in the first place you ask? Well, we’ve been learning
how light works since day two of the program. We did a whole bunch of experiments to test out
from refraction, reflection, and bending light rays. The first experiment we’ve done was of
shadow puppets and seeing how the distance between that and the light affected the contrast and
size of the shadow that the puppet as creating. We learned that as the closer the puppet is to the
light, the blurrier and bigger it becomes since the puppet is covering more of the light rays that
hit the puppet. It’s also blurrier because of how the light bends around the edges of the puppet
creating an unclear edge to the puppet. Next, we used lasers on different size holes through the
construction paper. We learned that the lasers, before they disappear, warp and bend through the
hole of the paper while the flashlight created a donut shaped hole.
After learning about that, we learned about light refractions as it bends in different
mediums such as oil, water, and acrylic blocks. Using a light box, we used the one beam
shooting out from it at different angles and recording what angle light refracts through the water,
oil, and acrylic blocks. Then after recording all of the data, we moved on to finding out the
Snell’s law equation about certain right triangles and their similarity of incident and refracted
angles. It was all pretty fun and sciencey at the same time. The next day, we learned about lenses
and how they work. We shined a laser through a lens and saw that no matter where you angled it
from a fixed spot, the light will stay remotely in a fixed spot on the piece of paper that is shining
on. We figured that light, through a lens, will bend towards the thickest part of the lens. In this
case, it was dead on the center of the lens.
(How refracted light works)
While going through all the science we’ve been working on, we’ve also played around
with a couple math questions to help us refresh on what we had to learn about incase we wanted
to retry on our math placement test. I was planning to but I thought otherwise that my score was
ok where it was. The door to the testing hall also was locked for some reason so I couldn’t enter
it. But back to math, we learned about special triangles and how they work. We also learned
about the lens and Snell’s law and applied them into our problems to find out about specific
distances that we tried to figure out. We’ve also learned about parabolas and how the focus of it
contributed to the study of light and how it works. You see, all parallel lights come intersect at a
focus point. The focus on a parabola is our focus point where all of the light rays meet up at. We
proved this by lining up a reflected sheet onto our graph and shined some parallel lines on it and
it all met up near or on the focus. That’s how we’ll make our oven bowl.
The moments that I’ve had here are one of the best times I’ve had with new people I’ve
only met for a week. One of the best moments were when we all packed in the elevator and I
accidentally pressed the help button and flipped out because real help was coming from 911.
Later that day, while we were eating lunch, we actually heard sirens coming towards the building
and everyone joked that they were coming to check on the elevator. It was awesome. Another
god moment was when I was walking into the room and yelled out “Kenny!” It was an ongoing
thing that Kenny did in his introduction to himself during the name game. I didn’t realize there
were people in the room and everyone was staring at me. I felt so embarrassed but it was really
funny at the same time. These are the little things that makes the program truly one of a kind. My
roommate, in the Humanities program, was just writing papers and poems while we get to do
exciting and amazing experiments all day while still doing fun field trips and activities
All in all, I believe that this program is one of the best you can get if you were planning
to do the early start in Sundial. The connections you make with people are worth every second to
be here and now looking back, I wonder why i didn’t sign up sooner. Don’t worry about leaving.
With the technology that we have today, I’m able to see my friends and family everyday.
Everyone here are not who you suspect them to be and are actually really great people when you
get to know them. You’ll make great friends here and really connect with professors from all the
different majors. But most importantly, have fun. You’ll have a blast.