Almanac

Schools - August 21, 2013

Student spends month as research scientist

by Sam Borsos

Summer is a time when many kids take a break from homework, relax by the pool and hang out with friends. For Portola Valley native and rising senior Amanda Barth, summer included an intense educational experience.

Along with 35 other science students from around the country and world, the Summit Preparatory High School student spent 39 days on a science project, operating a telescope to take images of a near-earth asteroid while writing computer software to measure its position and calculate its orbit around the sun.

By day, Amanda and her peers studied college-level astronomy, physics and calculus. By night, they broke up into groups for imaging and measuring a speck of light from a distant asteroid.

Their work took place on the campus of Westmont College in Santa Barbara as part of the Summer Science Program for academically gifted students that is operated in cooperation with Caltech, MIT and other educational institutions.

Although the program involves intense work, the students took an an occasional break for traditional camp experiences, such as hiking, swimming, and performing in a talent show.

Go to summerscience.org for more information about the Summer Science Program.

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