A Midway Reflection

I hadn’t realized how much time we’d spent at SSP until this morning, when I groggily clawed at my phone to shut off the alarm hell-bent on dragging me into the morning and saw the schedule: open house was today. That meant we were more than halfway through our projects, a truth which was hard to reconcile with the enormity of the work left to do: we all still had to write (and most importantly, debug) our orbital determination code and start creating a polished report to present our findings, and we only had two weeks to do it!

Luckily, today’s events were the perfect distraction to keep my mind off our impending all-nighters. After our standard morning lecture, everyone changed into our fanciest outfits to meet the parents arriving for the open house, which led to the unusual experience of eating cafeteria food in full suit and tie attire. 

After lunch, our disorganized herd of participants, parents, and faculty walked in the scorching heat (while once again cursing the dress code) to the Duane physics building, where everyone participated in a college roundtable with representatives from Caltech, Harvey Mudd, and CU Boulder (that is, after struggling through the obligatory technical difficulties). I found the roundtable very informative and another useful reminder that the college fears of most people our age are excessive. Even then, it’s pretty difficult to stress about college at SSP, since all of the work serves as an excellent distraction. 

We finally headed back to Fiske planetarium for a delicious catered dinner and a talk about observing solar eclipses by SSP alumnus Doug Duncan. Before he spoke, Julius and Alison shared a few words about our SSP experience with the parents in the room. They both spoke about the social atmosphere which SSP cultivates and how it supports all participants academically and emotionally. The three weeks I’ve been here and experienced that atmosphere have made me really appreciate and understand their words, and Doug Duncan’s commitment to returning to SSP and giving his talk made it clear that the community we had entered would be with us for life. With just over two weeks to go, I can’t help but start anticipating the day when we all have to go home and say goodbye to this community. Until then, we’ll try not to exacerbate our sleep deprivation.


My name is Sasha and I am a math and physics enthusiast from sunny San Diego, CA (which makes the Boulder weather even more interesting). In my free time, I enjoy running, hiking, and climbing.