Summer Science Program Challenges Top H.S. Students

SOCORRO, N.M. June 14, 2012 – Three dozen of the world’s top high school science students are spending six weeks in the 10th annual Summer Science Program at New Mexico Tech. For the next 39 days the students representing 15 states and four countries will spend their days in college-level lectures, and their nights imaging and measuring the speck of light from a near-earth asteroid.

The intensive program also features a public lecture series on topics ranging from science fiction and dark energy to asteroids and underground life. The lectures – all in Weir 102 – are free and open to the public.

Working in teams of three, students will take a series of images of their chosen asteroid using telescopes at Etscorn Observatory. The teams will measure the asteroid’s position precisely in each image, then write software to calculate its orbital elements from those measurements.

Students find that this intense, hands-on research experience gives them crucial inspiration and preparation to major in science or engineering in college. They work with university professors and meet prominent guest speakers, plus enjoy behind-the-scenes tours of Magdalena Ridge Observatory, EMRTC, the Very Large Array, and other technical installations in the region.

Tech provides facilities, and Sandia National Labs sponsors the guest lecture series, to which the campus community is invited.

“We’re very pleased to return for our tenth summer at Tech. Everyone here is extremely supportive, and the facilities are perfect for our program” said Richard Bowdon, Executive Director.

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

– NMT –

“Disaster Science Fiction”
2:30 p.m. Tuesday, June 26
Mika McKinnon, Astrophysics Consultant, SyFy Network

“Mad? Science!”
3 p.m. Saturday, June 30
Dr. Larry Sverdrup, Senior Scientist, Trex Enterprises Corp.

“Caves: Exploring Life Underground From Earth To Mars And Beyond”
7 p.m. Saturday, July 7
Dr. Penelope Boston, Director of Cave and Karst Studies, New Mexico Tech

“Follow-up and Characterization of Potentially Hazardous Asteroids using the MRO 2.4m Telescope”
2:30 p.m. Monday, July 9
Dr. Eileen V. Ryan, Director, 2.4m Telescope, New Mexico Tech
“Unlocking The Secrets of Plaque Through Optical Superresolution”
2:30 p.m. Thursday, July 12
Dr. Jerilyn Timlin, Principal Member of Technical Staff, Sandia National Laboratories
“Dark Energy and the Evolution of the Universe”
2:30 p.m. Friday, July 13
Dr. Nicholas Suntzeff, Professor of Astronomy, Texas A&M
“Mapping the Hidden Universe”
2:30 p.m. Thursday, July 19
Dr. Patricia Henning, Professor of Physics and Astronomy, University of New Mexico
Cramer 101
“Physics Vs. Lawyers: An Airline Crash Investigation”
10 a.m. Saturday, July 21
Dr. Michael Dubson, Senior Instructor and Associate Chair, University of Colorado-Boulder
All events are in Weir 102, except where noted.