7-Year-Old Science Whiz Visits NASA Space Flight Center

Romanieo Golphin Jr. and Peter Sooy
Romanieo Golphin Jr., age 7, toured NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center on March 23. Here, Peter Sooy, an employee at Goddard, explains robotics in space at the Satellite Servicing Projects Division office. (Image credit: Rebecca Roth)

While most second-graders are busy learning vocabulary and arithmetic and playing soccer and video games, 7-year-old Romanieo Golphin Jr. has been bumping up his proverbial résumé. After visiting renowned scientific institutions such as CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research), he just added a NASA visit to his busy schedule.Romanieo Golphin Jr. visited the Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland Friday (March 24), where he learned about robotics, Earth science and satellite servicing, and even viewed the James Webb Space Telescope, which is undergoing testing before its 2018 launch.

"Do you want to come to Goddard to work with us?" Center Director Chris Scolese asked Romanieo, adding, "Say yes."

"I can help you," Romanieo answered, according to a NASA statement.

Romanieo has been homeschooled his entire life, and his knack for science has been featured in places such as The Huffington Post and The Washington Post. When he was 2 and a half, Romanieo was shown on YouTube identifying elements by their atomic number (such as hydrogen, whose one proton is represented by a single billiard ball). 

Romanieo's parents, Romanieo Golphin Sr. and Cheri Philip, run a small company called the Robeson Group, which encourages young learners to immerse themselves in their fields of interest. According to the February article in The Washington Post, they spend as much as $1,000 monthly to create a curriculum for their child, and they have taken advantage of an estimated $1 million in free educational opportunities.

A recent highlight was a trip to the Large Hadron Collider, run by CERN. The trip cost the family $11,000, much of which they received through fundraising. Romanieo's enthusiasm on the trip caught the attention of experimental physicist Steven Goldfarb, who named the boy a CERN ambassador to the Washington, D.C., area to attract other young people to science.

The young boy makes frequent trips to local museums and has already met with science luminaries such as Neil deGrasse Tyson, host of the science TV series "Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey" and director of the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. 

Romanieo already has a scholarship ready for him at Morehouse College in Atlanta, where he has observed university classes. Besides studying science, Romanieo also makes time for play, art, Legos, meditation and guitar; he has perfect pitch, according to the NASA statement.

"It's incredible getting your hands dirty and making the abstract concrete in terms of the science, for at least one day," Golphin Sr. said in the statement.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: