Jesse Hill: Summer 2015 Sundial Experience

Within the realm of possibilities lies sundial. This program is beyond all learning and
social based programs. It is no mere summer camp, nor a camp for only advancing knowledge,
but a mutual combination of both. I enjoyed the program in its entirety. From day one I met
people who I shall not forget. I have created friendships that will last all of my college career at
Arizona State University. Although at times I came to class nervous, to say the least, I was never
an outcast, and I was treated with respect and dignity, not found in high school. I enjoy being
able to suggest ideas, formulate opinions, and test hypotheses. Our group of sundial has allowed
everyone to feel welcome in and out of class. We bicker and argue at times, much like a family,
but for the next 4 years (and more) we will be a family. Never to shun a cry of help or even a
suggestion on a research method, we will be ready to help and listen to all information.
We soon started our camp with the advancing field of light optics. The method of being
taught was unorthodox, but very effective. we were given lesson based demos (a model that
describes a principle of science, in our case optics), and we learned the concept of them. Light
will bend into a medium, such as glass, water, etc…, and we were pointed by our advisers into a
direction that was confusing, to say the least. We were never told how to find anything, or what
to look for, in fact at times we were questioned at times as to if we were correct. We found
Snell’s 1st law, or the law of refraction, almost entirely on our own. Sabrina, a physics major,
discovered that every medium has an index of refraction. Raquel, an astrophysics major, found
that based off the statement Sabrina made, this would fit into the form of an equation using
simple trigonometric functions. inverse sine of sin theta over k will equal the angle of refraction.
Later we found out that the variable k is actually n. The simple equation for this is nsinθ=nsinθ.
The next couple of days we learned how to use this equation on the demos that we explored with
early on. Later we were discovering the use of optics in lenses. Through a series of confusion, we
finally reached our goal, we found Snell’s second law, law of lenses. Where one over the
variable (q) represents the distance of the object from the lens, and where one over (p) equals the
image distance from the lens, to equal one over (f), the focal point of the lens.
The next days we went to the challenger space center, in Peoria, Arizona. We spent the
day as mission control, and as a flight crew. Our mission was to go to the moon, and land safely.
there was a few jobs, navigation, life support, probe, medical, data cruncher, and communication.
I was navigation, along with my partner Nathan, we were in charge of relaying the data for
landing to the mission control and even locate places to properly land the spacecraft. We did a
good job. We learned what it was like to be NASA. The next social outing was battleship in the
pool at the recreation center. Where we had 3 canoes, and were teams of 4. each person had a
bucket of varying size and we had to sink the other ships. This was incredible. I think I can speak
for all of us in the program when I say, we all loved this. The next we discussed the plans for our
final projects. Jack, Sam, and my task was to essentially create a mock internet, or at the very
least a way to communicate messages. We had to also describe the math and principals behind
the this. Using the Arduino board, we made a circuit with an light emitting diode. We then had to
convert the text into program, also known as binary. Then we made another circuit on another
Arduino board. This one is a sensor, a light sensor, or photoresistor. We found that this side of
programing was incredibly hard. As we had to convert the binary signals to decimal, and then to
characters. But success was sweet. We achieved the goal. Using a blue LED, fiber optics, and a
photoresistor, we created a way to send and receive messages. The way that our project worked
was that the fiber optics had total internal refraction, and the light from the LED is transferred to
the sensor. The sensor receives the code and translate it into words.
If I were to give advice to the program and its advisers, I would modify the math portion.
I did not understand the math and any concepts presented to me. We all had struggles with how
to approach things, and I think that is ok, but we had know idea as to how we got answers. They
are now imprinted into my brain, but I didn’t understand the parts without knowing the formula.
It may help in the long run but, in exchange we did not understand the reasoning behind it.
Another thing that could have helped me, or potentially us, more would be to allot more free
time to do personal activities. We could have used this time to bond more as a group. In the
entire program I always felt respected and even when I am wrong, I still found support. This is
the major factor that will always separate this camp from many others. I have been to a few focus
camps, that wish to resemble this program, but they hardly come close to achieving this goal. If I
could do it all again, I would, and am so excited to start off my college career with the best
program that I could have possibly gotten involved with. I can not wait to enjoy this program all
year long. Thank you Dr. Z, and all of the facilitators for teaching me life lessons I will not stop
using throughout the rest of my life.