Girl Plans to Colonize Mars

Have you ever looked up into space and thought “Wow! we’ve traveled to the moon, but we haven’t gotten to Mars quite yet?” Inspiring 15-year-old Alyssa Carson is training for a position to be amongst the first people to colonize Mars.

Alyssa was inspired to go to Mars at age 3 when she watched an episode of the TV show “The Backyardigans: Mission to Mars.” Who would have thought that a children’s TV show would inspire possibly one of the first people to colonize the Red Planet?

Training for Mars

For training, she’s gone to all the NASA space camps around the world. She’s had to do many crazy things in training. At a space camp, they took some of her oxygen away so she would remember how it felt. Losing oxygen is called hypoxias, and she needs to recognize the symptoms in case there is an oxygen breach in space. She described the experience by saying, “It was pretty fun. My symptoms are euphoria, where you start laughing and you can’t stop. My entire body went numb. It was a pretty cool learning experience.”

Alyssa learns English, Spanish, French, and Chinese at school, because going to Mars is going to be a world mission and she needs to understand everyone. She also goes to many classes, including classes at the PoSSUM (Polar Suborbital Science in the Upper Mesosphere) Academy and just finish a course at MIT on aerospace dynamics.

She also is attending classes to become SCUBA certified and to get her pilot’s license. SCUBA diving certification is a big part of her training. Because of space’s lack of gravity, she must get used to floating around if she will ever successfully travel to Mars. To do this, she goes SCUBA diving. Just like space, water has a lack of gravity and is a great way to get used to her new life.

Alyssa’s next big project is to be able to take a test flight in the next two to three years. The mission would last about four to six hours and would take her to space and back. She is talking to companies like Virgin Galactic to see what additional training she would need. She would like to do the space flight at the age of seventeen so she would be the youngest person in space.

Alyssa also has balance in her life with extracurricular activities like soccer, ballet, and piano. “I haven’t necessarily done (extra activities because) I thought it would help me to become an astronaut. I just kind of did those things because I wanted to.” She did say, though, taking part in sports like soccer help her stay in shape.

Incredible Sacrifices

If Alyssa leaves to go to Mars in 20 years, she probably won’t come back and will probably spend the rest of her life in space. Can you imagine leaving your friends and family and never coming home? She says what she going to miss most about Earth, besides the people, is nature. “Mars is cold dusty and rocky. Earth has air, trees and running water. So the whole nature feeling of Earth is what I would miss.” Alyssa has to miss important and fun activities, like the last day of school, to do her training.

Despite this, she is not nervous about going to space because she met the people who were working on the rockets. They are very concerned about the safety of astronauts and they seemed to know what they were doing.

How you can do it, too

Alyssa hopes her mission will inspire other kids to take on a science, space or math career. She said “There’s not really a set course to become an astronaut because there are so many different ways to get into it. You have the civilian track or you have the military track. Some people go in as scientists, some people go in as pilots, some people go in at doctors. So for a space career there’s basically the same jobs (on Earth)… There are really so many different jobs, depending on what you want to focus on.”

For example, her focus is science: “The job that I would like to pursue is being a Mission Specialist on the mission to Mars. And some of the things I would do is I would study the geology and biology aspect of the planet… going out and doing experiments, testing the soil, testing for signs of life… being one of the main scientists on the mission.”

Alyssa is a very inspiring person. She shows people that they must work hard to accomplish something. She thinks that you can do anything at any age. “I don’t think your age can really limit you,” she said.

If you want to pursue a dream, just do what Alyssa does. Stay focused, and don’t give up, no matter what obstacles you have to overcome. Maybe someday, you’ll pursue a dream just as big as Alyssa’s, or even bigger.

About the Reporter

Jayda Meeks is 11 years old and is an aspiring computer programer. Along with programing and computers, she loves writing, singing and art. She also has a deep love of video games and anything Nintendo.

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How to Win a Major Science Fair!

Google Science Fair is one of the biggest science fairs in the world, with a $50,000 scholarship grand prize. For the third year in a row, the winner is a girl: Kiara Nirghin from South Africa! This is also the first year that the majority of finalists were girls. Read on to learn about Kiara, and how you can win, too!

ABOUT THIS YEAR’S WINNER

_91414849_gsf2016kiaraKiara lives in South Africa, where farmers are dealing with the worst drought in 30 years. Crops are failing due to lack of water, which creates a food shortage. Kiara’s father encouraged her to help those who can’t help themselves by telling her, “You can get as many A’s in School and University but what matters most is what you do for the man that cannot do for themselves.”

Kiara wanted to help the farmers so started to explore SAPs (Super Absorbent Polymers), which hold water better than regular earth. She found that they all shared a chain molecule called polysaccharide. She discovered that orange peels are composed of 64% polysaccharide. She mixed it with avocado peel, which has oil, and left it in the sun. She found it made an absorbent material kind of like a sponge. When put in the earth near trees and other crops, it would allow the farmers to use less water. The material keeps water in the earth instead of letting it evaporate.

HOW YOU CAN DO IT!

Science fairs are a great addition to your high school transcripts. If you can win a major award like Google Science Fair or Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, you can practically take your pick of colleges, not to mention the scholarship awards!

Google Science Fair vs Intel International Science and Engineering Fair

Are you charismatic and a good public speaker? Do you live near a local fair location, or can you travel there? You may want to enter the Intel competition, where you must submit a project at these actual physical locations, and then move up to a regional competition in Los Angeles, Phoenix, or Pittsburgh.

If you prefer to do things electronically, Google Science Fair might be a better fit for you, which allows you to submit your entire project online.

Tips for a Winning Project

  1. Start early! Girls should start researching in the summer, or early fall, for projects that are due in the spring
  2. Find a new idea or concept. The winning projects are not projects that have already been proven. If you find your idea in a book called A+ Science Fair Projects, you’re not going to win. Look at the world around you, look for unsolved problems and think of new ideas.
  3. Find a mentor: Many winners have parents who are engineers or scientists, but you don’t need that. If you ask a college professor or scientist, they are usually excited to take on a mentor role. You can contact your local science museum or college science department and tell them about your idea, and see if they are willing to look at your work and offer advice. If you tell them that you are motivated and doing this on your own and without help from parents, they may be even more willing to help.

Check Out These Websites

Society for Science

Science Buddies

International Science Fair Organizations

Good luck, smart girls!