W.H. student shoots for the stars


Over 39 intense days this summer, Jamie Rodriguez — a rising senior at West Hempstead High School — operated a telescope to take images of a near-earth asteroid, and wrote her own computer software to measure its position precisely and calculate its orbit around the sun.

Rodriguez joined 35 other top science students from around the U.S. and the world for learning, late nights, and collaboration at the Summer Science Program (SSP) on the campus of Westmont College. Since 1959, gifted teenagers have come to this unique program to spend their days in college-level lectures, and their nights imaging and measuring the speck of light from a distant asteroid. Years and even decades later, many alumni refer to SSP as “the educational experience of a lifetime.”

Rodriguez and her colleagues worked closely with university professors, met prominent guest speakers, and enjoyed behind-the-scenes tours of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech, and Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics.

SSP is an independent non-profit, operated in cooperation with Caltech, MIT, New Mexico Tech, and Westmont College. More information is available at www.summerscience.org.