A Freeport High School freshman was one of 20 students nationwide — and the only one from New York — to participate in a prestigious program at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
Valeria Ventura Subirachs, 14, attended “Physicists Inspiring the Next Generation 2016: Exploring the Cosmos with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory” in Green Bank, West Virginia. Students in the PING Summer Camp conducted research using the famous radio telescope there, which has a 40-foot diameter.
“I think I’ve found my calling with astromomy,” said Ventura Subirachs, who came to the United States from Mexico when she was in the fifth grade.
The program, aimed at exposing students of color to physics and radio astronomy, is a collaboration of the observatory, the National Society of Black Physicists and Associated Universities Inc.
The students, divided into teams, learned to operate the telescope and tackled projects, Ventura Subirachs said. Her team’s project was to figure out the significance of certain space coordinates — which turned out to be Sagittarius A*, a black hole at the Milky Way’s center.
Ventura Subirachs is a cellist in the school orchestra as well as a member of the select chorale, book club, Spanish book club and Future Corps service group.
“She has certainly found her passion and we know she’ll be doing great things,” Freeport Principal Linda Carter said.