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Summer Science Program

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, General Science, Higher Education, Physical & Earth Sciences, Technology

Mission: SSP’s mission is to inspire exceptionally talented and motivated high school students to accelerate their intellectual and social development. Our college-level, residential program immerses students in a challenging science curriculum with team-based, hands-on research to solve a central scientific problem. Since 1959, we have created a cultural environment of excellence, collaboration, and creativity, and we push our students beyond anything they have previously experienced. We measure our performance by the number of alumni who look back at SSP as a formative experience and support the program for future generations.

Results: Life-changing!

Target demographics: High school juniors, gifted & talented in math & science.

Direct beneficiaries per year: 144

Geographic areas served: worldwide

Programs: Four programs in 2019: SSP in Astrophysics at Univ. of Colorado Boulder and New Mexico Tech in Socorro. SSP in Biochemistry at Purdue Univ. and UC San Diego

Community Stories

214 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

At first I was apprehensive about attending, but I'm glad I did. SSP was one of the most formative and fun experiences of my life. Despite long working hours, it was easy to bond with my peers and connect over how tired we were.

Manuel G.

Client Served

Rating: 5

For six weeks I got to spend every moment of every day doing what I love with people I love. I absolutely love astronomy and I already knew it was what I wanted to pursue as a career, but this only solidified these feelings. I also used to be incredibly shy before coming here, but I got to meet all sorts of people who understood me and who shared these same passions and quirks as I did, and who all loved learning. I already know that the people I met here will be lifelong friends, and I love how supportive and loving of each other we all are, whether it be socially, academically, or otherwise. I really can't put into words how grateful I am for this experience, and I already know that I'm going to try my hardest to be a TA when I'm older.

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP was not only an intellectually invigorating research experience, it was a camp where I was able to meet some of the best people ever. In 39 days I was able to develop friendships of equal caliber to those of which I have been developing back home for the past 7 years. (@SSPpurdue)

Client Served

Rating: 5

For six weeks I worked with a team of 2 other amazing students under 2 equally amazing instructors to do real science. You can’t really get that experience anywhere else as a high school student.

Client Served

Rating: 5

I gained a newfound love for the natural sciences, found out more about my capabilities, and met some of the most vibrant and interesting peers in my life through this program. Words alone cannot even come close to expressing my experience here.

SSP will give you a genuine chance to explore and ponder the night sky, physics, astronomy, mathematics, and programming, but most importantly, yourself.

[SSP Astro @NMT]

Volunteer

Rating: 5

The Summer Science Program in Astrophysics is a 5.5 week immersion into true experimental science and research. One observes, programs, and calculates the orbital trajectory of an asteroid and writes a paper on their findings, all while learning cosmology, orbital mechanics, optics, observational astronomy, and quantum mechanics. It was a transformative experience for me, not only for its rigor but also for its lessons in collaboration, experimentation, and perseverance.

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP has definitely been the most unforgettable and rewarding experience of my lifetime. Not only did it allow me to get exposed to research and “real science”, it introduced me to 35 of the most intelligent and unique people I have ever met. Thank you SSP for this life changing summer :) (Biochem @UCSD)

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP allowed me to meet 35 other bright individuals around the world and across America. Providing not just a challenging intellectual experience, it has allowed us to become a tight knit community working towards a common goal. Even after hours in the lab, you'll somehow still have energy to stay up and socialize with your amazing peers. SSP is as life changing as it says, but you won't know until you experience it. Thank you SSP, and all my fellow participants who made it a truly unforgettable summer. (Biochem @UCSD)

Client Served

Rating: 5

The best experience a high school science-oriented student could ever have! It was the best 6 weeks of my life, the most enriching summer I’ve spent, and I made friends with every participant. Working together to solve challenging problems, such as combining our individual knowledges to design a unique assay or lab report, was so exciting as we progressed onwards. SSP really nurtured a very positive environment, so much so that I think I really found my place at SSP and within the scientific community. Thank you so much for the memories!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Hands down the educational experience of a lifetime. I first learned about SSP as a freshman and was amazed about all SSP had to offer - immersive research that incorporates a variety of fields, exposure to exciting topics in STEM, an environment that focuses on growth and collaboration rather than cutthroat competition, and a wonderful community of students, faculty, and alumni overall. It’s been 4 weeks since SSP ended, and I am reminded each day of how fortunate I was to have this opportunity. SSP is unique in that it combines the best aspects of a research internship (hands on work, dealing with roadblocks with real data and overcoming them, having a final product that can impact the scientific community) with a traditional educational summer program (lectures to learn new topics so you truly understand the research not just do work, experience of friendship, group activities). The curriculum and research at SSP is very well organized and methodical, with clear assignments and goals for each of the 6 weeks, ensuring that everyone is aware and on track. Thus, even though there was a lot to do, I quickly realized that it was achievable given dedicated effort (which wasn’t hard since it was all so engaging and time flew by). From observing the beautiful Boulder sky at midnight to thinking about and rejoicing over problem sets together to writing the final orbit determination Python program to all the fun challenges and field trips, there really was not a single dull moment at SSP. The faculty went above and beyond in ensuring that we all were successful and enjoying, both on the academic and social front. I am fascinated and immensely thankful as to how 7 individuals can work so hard while bringing unparalleled enthusiasm to the table each day and night. These 6 weeks have provided me a strong foundation in the research process, piqued my interest in new topics of science I had not looked into before, and given the gift of acceptance and joy in an amazing group of peers. Another aspect that definitely stands out about SSP as a nonprofit is its alumni culture. The alumni of this program are incredibly dedicated to continuing to serve its mission, coming back as TAs, hosting guest lectures, and contributing to its sustainability so that many generations ahead can experience the work of art that is SSP. SSP exceeded my expectations in all aspects, and I am extraordinarily grateful to be able to continue to be a member of the SSP community for many years.

Client Served

Rating: 5

Oh man, where do I begin with SSP...

The official goal of the program is to determine the orbit of a near-Earth asteroid using observational data from a telescope that you obtained with your research team, which they assign in groups of 3 random participants. However, it is so, so much more than that.

SSP is completely centered around learning as much science and math as possible and building great relationships with incredible people. Although it varies a little by each participant, me and another guy in the lunch line did the math and realized that we could clock in 16-17 hours of work per day for the first three weeks and a possible 18 hours during the last three due to fixing bugs (these numbers vary very wildly for any given day, of course, because sometimes we have field trips or can sleep in. But you better beware the 18 hour day, which is working all day except for dinner.) Although it is very tough, we learn so much. From observational astronomy to vector calculus to quantum mechanics to Papa Gauss’s orbit determination method to Dr. Rangstorf’s world-famous astrology lectures, the problem sets and three hour lectures are going to simply teach you more than you can take in even if you are a super genius.

Speaking of which, practically everyone there is a super genius, and they still couldn’t learn everything. Some people won international science competitions (I think?), another built their own telescope, another takes really cool pictures with their telescope, another did a research project about how to place recharging wells in Haiti, another makes something crazy like Titanium Dioxide Carbon Microtubules, another derives their own equations for how a rocket combustion chamber works, and many more kept quiet about their skills because the entire campus was a “no flex zone.” They are such great people, too. Super nice. My research team and I still perform research outside of SSP, and we plan on doing a lot more science together.

Bottom line, SSP is absolutely phenomenal, but I just wish more people could go. If you are a college reading this, email to SSP and let a group stay on your campus and use your telescope for 5.5 weeks during the summer. Not only will your college get a great reputation, but it will also be in the minds of some super smart undergraduates, so they might wanna go there. Also, don’t feel discouraged if you think you can’t get in. I’m a farming boy from some hillbilly town in the part of California no one knows about (East of Modesto). I never had a Physics, coding, or any real teacher to teach me things I needed to know to get to SSP ( except AB calculus. Shoutout to Mrs. Aleksani for the sacrifice), and everything I knew was poorly self taught. I never thought that I would be able to get into SSP over prep school or rich school kids, but somehow I did. Now I have a foot in the scientific door and the best research team in the world (attached picture). For anyone thinking about going, just try. You never know if you might just get accepted. It changed my life, and it might change yours, too.

Client Served

Rating: 5

The summer science program is by far the best research experience I have ever had - over 39 days I made friends, did actual science, and learned from two extraordinary professors, 4 TAs, a wonderful site director, and a multitude of world class researchers and scientists. If you are thinking about applying, do it. I thought I had no chance of getting in, but I did. The benefits of this program are by far worth the time it takes to apply.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I went to Purdue Biochemistry and it has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I feel it has prepared me for college and what lies beyond.

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP is not only the best research program available to high schoolers, but it’s the only high caliber program with 100% financial assistance... an amazing feat.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

6 weeks and 39 days with some of the most talented and unique individuals in the world. The only regret I have is that it didn't last longer :). I'm so glad and thankful that I had the opportunity to participate in such an amazing program and conduct high impact wet-lab research. From tough days in the lab to weekends filled with entertainment, SSP was the perfect embodiment of the "work hard, play hard" mindset. I learned so much about myself and grew as a person over these intense weeks as SSP was truly a life-changing experience for me.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

It was great. I loved the program and it was life changing.

Client Served

Rating: 5

This was one of the most life-changing and eye-opening experiences I’ve ever had as a high school student. It has given me the push forward I needed to see scientific research as a main career option.

Vanessa L.2

Client Served

Rating: 5

This is honestly the best program and I am so glad to be able to participate in it. It transformed my perspective on the world. All the professors and assistants are very genuine. They take care of all aspects of students. SSP's generous financial aid allows any passionate students to participate. I recommend SSP wholeheartedly.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

SSP is a journey of discovery, exploration, collaboration, and reflection. In just five and a half weeks, I have been immersed in science, biochemistry, and research while having fun and forging friendships with a diverse and vibrant family of SSPers. As a truly transformative experience, SSP has shaped my perspective, my goals, my aspirations, and my very own self.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

The Summer Science Program is more than simply a research program - it is a deeply emotional and life-changing experience. For 6 weeks, I had the privilege of working with 35 other amazing and brilliant participants. On Day 1, we entered campus as colleagues. On Day 39, we left the dorms as lifelong friends. The program exposes you to compassionate and engaging mentors, inspiring peers, and every facet of scientific research and paper-writing that can be crammed into 39 days.

Thank you for changing my life, SSP!