Keeping Up with SSP

Author: Jay C.

One of my favorite things about SSP so far is the collective enthusiasm for our work. It’s completely different from school, and is especially refreshing after a year of online school. Most of my school year was quiet and solitary, with very little participation. But the moment I joined SSP I could tell we were all going to work together. Being with a group of people who are excited to learn about science makes the experience all the more worth it.

Today we started our first python based lessons, as well as a bit of vector addition. I loved getting to see how the math we work with applies to things we’re actually going to work on. Nothing we learn is arbitrary – it’s directly in the context of our research projects. All the lessons are directly tied to things we’ll be using to help make our asteroid observations more detailed. 

Because everything we learn is for our own gain, there’s no pressure to succeed or to make it seem like you’re keeping up. I was worried about the competitive environment at first but, for such a great opportunity, it’s super laid-back. During our final learning block, everyone realized they’d completely forgotten to read over the pre-lesson material for vector addition. And we were all able to laugh it off and continue with the lesson. If we’re struggling with a problem set, we can ask each other for help at any time of day. And if we can’t do it, we can work on it the next day.

When I heard I got accepted to SSP, I was sure I wouldn’t be prepared for it. But now, not only did I understand the material, I misread the instructions and turned in my problem set 24 hours early. I’m excited for the rest of this program, and I’m looking forward to starting observations!

About the author: I live in Ann Arbor but grew up in DC, and I’ve been interested in space my whole life. When I was little my night light was a projection of the crab nebula from the Smithsonian museums. This program helps me envision what I’m looking for in life, and makes it all the more real.