Academy for Science and Design Student Tracks Asteroid
The Academy for Science and Design Charter School (ASD), the state's top performing public school and largest STEM-specialty school announced that ASD senior Bring Harper of Hollis participated in the 58th annual Summer Science Program (SSP) at the University of Colarado. SSP is an independent non-profit, operated in cooperation with Caltech, MIT, New Mexico Tech, and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Over 750 applications were received from high school juniors from around the world to be a part of this academic summer program where high school students experience college-level education and do research in celestial mechanics by studying the orbits of asteroids.
Harper, who joined 35 other gifted and motivated science students from around the world for 39 intense days this summer, operated a research-grade telescope to take images of a near-earth asteroid, then wrote software to measure its position precisely and calculate its orbital path - including the chance it will impact Earth in the future. The data was then submitted to the Minor Planet Center (www.minorplanetcenter.net) of the International Astronomical Union so that it can be used by other scientists to improve future predictions of the asteroid's position.In addition to the hands-on night work with the telescope, Harper and her colleagues attended daytime lectures on astronomy, physics, spherical trigonometry, calculus, and software development.
When asked about the experience, Harper stated that "SSP convinced me that I wanted to pursue a research career in the future. It was extremely inspiring to be part of a community of scientists who were continually driven to learn all that they could. I learned a lot about math, programming, physics, astronomy, and most of all, myself. I feel that I now have a much clearer idea of my goals for the future."
Since 1959, this unique and highly selective program has offered teenagers their first taste of what doing research is all about, to immerse themselves in hands-on, experimental science, and to live and work with their intellectual peers for the first time. Years and even decades later, many alumni describe it as "the educational experience of a lifetime". Most go on to earn advanced degrees and leadership roles in their chosen careers. More information is available at www.summerscience.org.