As I near the midway point of this internship at Indium Corporation, I thought I would review my first half a little bit. The first few weeks of my internship were mostly dedicated to research, and learning about the topic of my project. This is a critically important part of the experiment, maybe the most important part. Without research, without understanding the topic you’re studying, there is no learning, there is no way to understand the results of the tests, and no way to interpret and explain your findings to others. My most recent hobby has really shown me how important this aspect is.
I like beer, and I like trying different beers. I try to never get the same beer twice. My dad drinks the same 5 or 6 beers all the time; he says he’s tried enough to know what he likes, and he’s old enough to have earned the right to drink only his favorites. I am only 25, so, I'm not old, despite what some of the other interns may say, and I haven’t learned what I like, or explored enough to have earned the right to drink what I want. With this in mind, I recently started home brewing, to give me the power to dictate what I drink. I quickly realized I actually knew very little about beer, other than it tasted good, and one of the ingredients was called hops, whatever that is.
I began my learning by going to breweries and taking tours. Then I read a few books to learn more, and continue my education. Afterwards, I bought a kit, and set up to brew my own. I have since brewed two batches; one was only recently bottled, but the other is complete, with tasteful results. Making my first batch gave me a great feeling to make something myself, and be able to drink something I was proud to call my own, but it wasn’t as great as it could have been. Using a kit gave me the basics, and an easy to use recipe, but anyone with a stove, a big pot, and the ability to read directions, could have made the same quality beer. There was no sense of my own ingenuity in the beer. Furthermore, I still have little sense of what is actually happening in the process. If someone asked anything about the process, such as why it is this color, or why do you add hops at this stage, I still have only a very basic understanding, and most likely cannot answer confidently. Until I can answer these questions, and more, and understand the process enough to make my own choices of ingredients and steps, I cannot produce my own true creations, and I won’t receive that feeling of accomplishment in making my own beer.
This is the same in science and experimentation. You need to understand the controls and the variables involved, and how they interact to affect the reactions in order to get the best results, and produce the outcomes you want. As I practice my brewing and learn more and more from people and books, I will produce more unique batches, and have greater ownership and enjoyment from making something that is truly my own creation.
Similarly here, the research I have done, and all the experts at this company I have had the privilege to question about my topic, will give me a better understanding of my project. This can only make my experiment better and more successful, as well as give me the confidence and satisfaction of presenting the results to the world.