After nearly 8 months in this job, three critical things have happened in the last week.
1) The lab attended a small regional conference last weekend and both of my students gave talks that were well received. They were surprised and excited by the amount of positive feedback they got based on the fact that their projects are in the formative stages. I think that gave them a boost just we're heading into the summer and they have more clearly defined short and long term objectives in their heads as a result.I can tell them what the steps are, but everyone needs to see it for themselves before they buy in and get excited.
2) After months of playing with several techniques to get some critical data, things finally seem to be starting to work. I don't know what is different or whether it has to do with the students being more comfortable or confident, but I have already seen some really promising results this morning and it's giving me hope that we might have broken through a log jam.
3) The final touches are being done to the new lab space so that it should be almost complete by the end of the week. You know it's getting close to being finished when they are hanging the white board and asking about the aesthetic details. As soon as that is done we'll actually feel like we have a finished home rather than a construction site.
I can't think of a better way to move into the summer, with my last class to teach tomorrow.