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Sky Vista student essay is out of this world, wins national contest

Portrait of Ben SantosSky Vista Middle School student, Ben Santos, won the national James Webb Space Telescope essay contest in the 7th grade category. The selection was made by the Space Systems Technical Committee (SSTC) of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). He won the Rocky Mountain Region competition as well.

“I was really excited and surprised that I won,” Ben Santos said.

The James Webb Telescope is the largest optical telescope in space, allowing us to view objects farther away and with more clarity than any other telescope. Ben was reading about the different parts of the telescope in school and decided to write the essay in his free time. It took him a month to write the essay and those who have read it are blown away by the research he put into it.

“Ben has always been someone who loves learning and when he finds something that he is passionate about he goes all in on it,” Sarah Santos, Ben’s mother, said. “It is so in-depth and so advanced for such a young kid to be so knowledgeable about the telescope. We are so extremely proud! We are lucky parents for sure.”

Sarah Santos, who is also a fifth grade teacher at Dakota Valley Elementary School, heard of the essay contest through the Sky Vista newsletter. This was his first time entering into a contest.

“I want to be an aeromechanical engineer some day and send things into space,” Ben added.

He doesn’t know what he will send into space, but he might have the opportunity to do so soon. Santos is attending a summer camp in Florida next month at the Kennedy Space Center.

“I’ll actually work in a group with an astronaut to create an experiment and present it in front of a panel of judges and the top one will be launched into space to the international space station,” Ben explained.

All of the James Webb Space Telescope National Essay winners will be featured in the Aerospace America Magazine in the September issue. Ben will also receive $125 and a free AIAA student membership to stay connected with the Aerospace community.

Ben writing his essayTo read his entire essay: Seeing the Unseen: The Near-Infrared Spectrograph