The First Day of Summer Not-a-Break

There is a fascinating myth that academics get their summers off to play in the Sun. While the only time most of us are allowed to take vacations is in the summer, we generally work just as hard from the last day of spring semester to the first day of fall semester, as we do the inverse selection of days. The work we do is just different.

Tomorrow morning, the first Monday morning of summer class-break, marks the beginning of grant reporting and seeking season, and research season. Armed with high-end processors we’ll be hunting publications and public funding. I have two grants to write my summary reports for, a grant and a contract that I need to complete the work on, and a bunch of funding that I need to seek in between my pursuits of galaxies and variable stars.

Summer Break? Nope. But… The research part of this is play. As I’ve mentioned before, I do two different areas of science research: Galaxy Evolution in clusters using SDSS, and RR Lyrae stars. Recently I had someone ask why I worked on something as non-sexy as RR Lyrae stars. I responded that they are like the ultimate game of suduko. There is, for each star over a short period of time, only one solution, and that solution can require a several different pulsations to be combined in just one very specific way. Sorting out the modes and their timing is to me a puzzle that is just plain fun. Now, for the next few months at least, part of what I get to do instead of grading, is solve the puzzles RR Lyrae stars want to give me.

So, tonight, having found there is nothing interesting (to me) in arXiv, and not feeling like trolling any farther for a good story to blog about, I’m going to line up my journal articles, and data sets simply say tomorrow is the first day of my summer recess research period. Tomorrow and Thursday I meet with different students to chew through different Astronomy Education Research projects on new media, and hopefully chew through outlines of journal articles. Tuesday and Wednesday I’m working on a grant, IYA, and galaxy research, and Friday will be RR Lyraes and IYA again. I’ve pulled out the books and journal articles I had at home, filled a milk crate, and everything is ready to go into campus with me tomorrow.

Let it begin. Data, lay it on me – let me see what you’ve got.

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2 Comments

  1. Beth May 12, 2008 at 9:42 pm #

    But it’s a break from grading! Yeah! I have one late exam to give and grade tomorrow, and then I’ll be done with this semester. One nice thing about teaching is that semesters get done. Then you get to start over.

    I don’t do research and don’t have to chase grants, so my summer isn’t as structured as yours. But it gives me a chance to catch up on the many activities I’ve dropped, explore new things and especially new ways of teaching, and catch up on my professional reading. We aren’t “students”, but we are always learning. So summer is a time to fill our brains with all sorts of new stuff. I love teaching, but I *really* love learning.

  2. Chase Scott May 13, 2008 at 5:01 am #

    I couldn’t agree more Beth… the learning part is the fun part! I personally would much rather spend my time doing something constructive *and* doing something that I am passionate about.

    If a summer break theoretically for teachers (and I know otherwise) involves daytime television and long days of nothing… I’d rather be working, teaching the subject I am qualified in and most passionate about.

    Have a fantastic summer and remember to work and play hard!

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