Topical Guide 447
Events: Real: Sputnik
Institutions: Real: National Science Foundation, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Institutions: Fictional: National Preparedness Foundation, New Mexico College of Agriculture, Technology, and Pharmacy
Reservations Recommended, Chapter 2
“Well,” says Matthew, “I got the inspiration from a trip I made, when I was in high school. To Juarez. Mexico. I was the recipient of a grant. From the — Hmm. The what? Some agency. I forget. Some agency that was supposed to encourage science study among youth after Sputnik. The National Science Foundation, that’s it. So I went to the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology for the summer. I was fifteen. I’m not making this up. I was the smartest kid in my high school class.”
The Summer Science Program was launched in 1959 in response to America's emerging space program. Every summer, 30 sophomores and juniors from around the world spend six weeks immersed in math, physics and astronomy.
The Summer Science Program (SSP) is a residential academic enrichment program for rising high school seniors offered at both the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, New Mexico, and at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California. The SSP curriculum is centered around a group research project, and participants also study college-level astronomy, physics, calculus, and computer programming. Students attend guest lectures and go on field trips as well. The program runs for approximately five weeks.
Flying, “Babbington Needs Me”:
During junior year in high school, a friend of mine, Matthew Barber, had the good fortune to win a scholarship to a summer institute sponsored by the National Preparedness Foundation. It was to be held at the New Mexico College of Agriculture, Technology, and Pharmacy, in Corosso. Matthew’s winning the scholarship inspired in me a fierce envy and an even fiercer determination to get to Corosso myself. By giving me a destination, Matthew’s acceptance at the summer institute justified my building an airplane, an undertaking that my father might otherwise not have been willing to allow—certainly not in the family garage—and by taking me such a distance from home, my trip to Corosso gave me the taste of a wider world that I had come to crave.
[to be continued on Friday, March 10, 2023]
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You’ll find overviews of the entire work in An Introduction to The Personal History, Adventures, Experiences & Observations of Peter Leroy (a pdf document) and at Encyclopedia.com.