What is SSP?

  • a 39-day residential enrichment program designed to challenge and inspire highly gifted high school students (rising seniors) from around the world
  • one of the longest-running (since 1959) pre-college programs
  • an immersion into hands-on research
  • an independent nonprofit, the only enrichment program governed and operated by its own alumni

In 2018 there are programs on three campuses, each with 36 participants:

SSP has a rich history. The late Caltech physicist Richard Feynman visited nine times. Guest lecturers from a variety of backgrounds still inspire participants at each program.

SSP is not a “camp.” It is a unique immersion experience with a strong culture that has evolved over more than half a century. It is talented young people discovering their limits, then overcoming them through collaboration. It is the shock of not being the smartest person in the room, followed by the joy of realizing that’s not a problem, it’s an opportunity.

Top high school students have other opportunities to learn about science and math. Here they do science. Each participant gains a deep, visceral understanding of what that feels like. They go home knowing whether to pursue a STEM major and career – and most do.

SSP is research, not coursework. Participants collaborate in teams of three. Everyone learns from – and teaches – everyone else. There is a Code of Honor, but no tests or grades. The impact on participants is remarkably similar across the two projects and three campuses.

Participants spend up to six hours a day in the classroom, learning the theories and techniques underlying their research.

Classroom and lab sessions are scheduled six days a week, with behind-the-scene field trips and guest lectures to add variety. Classroom time is for developing an understanding of experimental science in general and the research topic in particular. Exercises and problem sets reinforce the material.

Each team is assigned a target to study and performs the research from start to finish: collecting experimental data, performing analysis, and reporting the results.

computer lab
Computers are provided and collaboration encouraged.

A diverse community on each campus includes carefully selected student participants, an Academic Director, Associate Academic Director, Site Director, and four Teaching Assistant and Residential Mentors. Everyone lives and works together, immersed in the culture and values of science.

Departure day
On departure day the program ends but the community only disperses and broadens.

On departure day, the community does not end, it disperses and broadens. Participants become voting members for life, and join a unique global network of over 2,000 alumni and former faculty, ages 16 to 73, all smart people doing interesting things, including supporting this unique nonprofit with donations of time and money.

For eligibility see Is SSP For You?