Week One: gratitude, excitement, and introduction

Hello and welcome to my bi-weekly diary!  My name is Wataru Hashimoto and I will be a sophomore at Northern Illinois University who is fortunate to become a McKearn Fellows of 2014-2018. My major is physics with education emphasis, and my goal is to become a physics teacher, either in college or high school level. I am conducting a research on physics education, which is the research field that is dedicated to improve teaching physics. To be specific, I am comparing two different types of physics classes in order to find the best way to structure the introductory college level physics class.

Before I talk about what happened in the first week, I would like to thank many people who helped me to become a great students, who is able to join prestigious program, McKearn Fellows. There are so many of them, but I would like to start from Maxwell Hoover, from the writing center, who helped reviewing my essay from the brainstorming to proofreading for a month. Since I was an international student, I always feel inferior about my essay, but he always allow me to talk about myself, encouraged me to write a better essay, and explained how good my essay is. Without him, I could not be confident about myself, and join McKearn Fellows. Thank you Maxwell.

Not only Maxwell, but also other people encouraged me to join the program. When I was struggling to prepare for the interview, Mr. Jason Goode helped me to brainstorm the possible question that the McKearn Team might ask. Also, at the beginning of the year, I went to the recruitment session, and I was hesitated to apply due to the high level requirement. In fact, I did not have a lot of leader skill, and I was not sure about my strength. However, I can still remember what Dr. Bower said to me. “Everyone does not have everything.” His quote called up my courage, then I applied for the program, and I got accepted. Thank you Dr. Bowers and Mr. Goode.

In addition, I would like to thank my family who helped me both financially and mentally. Without them, I could not come to America, join the university and have wonderful experience. I would like to thank my mother, who always prepare meals, maintain the house, and ask me what I have done today whenever I go home. House work is endless job, and I think it is the most important but difficult task to do. I want to thank my father, who worked hard and provided me an unbelievable opportunity. When I saw the tuition fee, I feel sorry about relying on you, and thankful about having great supports. I like to thank my three sisters, who always make great conversation with me and teach me the experience and skill that is essential for life. Thank you my family.

Moreover, I would like to thank my fantastic research mentor, Dr. Michael Eads. The first professor I met on the orientation day in the physics department was Dr. Eads is a coordinator for physics teaching licensure, and physics education researcher. His explanation is easy to understand, even for non-native English speaker, and always trigger my interests. I am very fortunate have him as my mentor, because he provides an interesting article to read, funding support for travelling to conference, and opportunities to be a better mentee. Without him, I would not be passionate about my research as I am right now. Thank you Dr. Eads.

Finally, I would like to thank John and Cassandra McKearn for providing the funding and amazing experience. The excursions, research experiences and funding are essential factors for my growth. Since I am not a citizen of America, it is difficult to join the local program and organizations. Without your funding and generosity, I would have difficulty simply joining the program during the year. Thank you John and Cassandra McKearn.

With these amazing people’s help, I was able to began my first week of summer, which was full of excitement. During the week, I met Dr. Eads for discussing and confirming the research plan for the summer. I am currently waiting for the demographic information from the office of administration, so I am reading articles and studying statistics for my research.

Although it is difficult to read a lengthy dissertation, it is always interesting and fascinating to see what other physics education researchers are performing experiment and discovering the new facts. It is true that I sometimes feel tired of reading many articles, but after a while, I began to read the article unintentionally. I laughed at myself when I was net surfing during the lunch break, and I ended up searching for the website and videos that explains  interesting and funny method to teach physics. I re-recognized that “physics education research does fit to me.”

At the beginning of the week, I was feeling nervous about the schedule of my research. It is not like “work on research from hear to hear time.” The schedule is more flexible and liberal. Therefore, it was difficult to schedule myself, but I realized that other McKearn Fellows are having similar experience. We talk about these schedule system, and after the conversation, my nerves were released and I was able to work by myself with this flexible schedule.

In terms of the summer experience, I am very looking forward for many aspects of the experience. Summer research would provide me the interesting results and helpful knowledge. Summer excursion is difficult to predict what will happen, but those uncertainties make it more fascinating. Especially the interaction with other cohort is my biggest expectation. They are simply great and awesome people just by looking at their dairy action and demographic information. However, I hope to find each individual’s interesting facts and characteristics through this dorm experience.

Lastly, I would like to tell other McKearn Fellows about how thankful I am for having the wonderful cohorts, and how grateful I am for being part of this program with them. When I first saw their biography in McKearn website, I was astonished about the accomplishment and experience the each people have. And when I said the impression to other cohorts, they replied with the positive impression about me. I was so delightful when I heard that “I am doing great” from other cohorts, because I sometimes feel diffident about myself when I am surrounded by these incredible people. However, they gave me a brave. Thank you for being such a great cohorts. Thank you for supporting me to become more confident. And thank you, for talking and chatting with me. You are a great people, and I hope you know that.

Thank you for reading my diary!

Thank you

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