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The North Providence Breeze 03-31-2021

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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NORTH PROVIDENCE EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | MARCH 31-APRIL 6, 2021 NORTH PROVIDENCE 3 NORTH PROVIDENCE – Gavin Skelly, a 10-year-old from North Providence, has an imagination as big as space, say his parents, and he used that creative mind to come up with an essay about the moon that's made him a semifinalist in a national competition. Skelly, son of Kirsten and Ken Skelly, has been announced by NASA and Future Engineers as one of 155 semifinalists in the Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest, a national competition asking K-12 students to imagine leading a one-week expedi- tion at the moon's south pole and to tell NASA all about it. Skelly will represent Rhode Island in grades 5-8 for the next round of the competition. Approximately 14,000 essay submissions were received from K-12 students across the country and more than 1,000 eligible judge volunteers helped review essays. Skelly told The North Providence Breeze he's always been fascinated by space, even choosing to make John F. Kennedy the subject of a biographical essay because JFK was "all about space." So does he ever want to go to the moon himself? Skelly says he'd rather be the engineer who helps send other people to space than go himself. He said he kept his essay "semi- realistic," with many elements he thinks could conceiv- ably become reality one day. On a pos- sible settling of the moon, he said he thinks such a move could help cre- ate more room for humans and more open space for wildlife. "Now that we have better technol- ogy we could soon have missions to the moon where we build structures and start colonizing the moon," he said. "I also learned about the moon's craters and how some can have ice in them, providing a pos- sible water source, (as well as) the importance of rovers." He said it's good to know that someone else likes his essay other than just his parents. "I was so excited to write the essay that I thought the maximum word count was the minimum and I was way over the limit," he said. "It helped me because it got my imagi- nation going and it's easier to have too much and break it down than to not have enough and build it up." One unrealistic part he cut out of the essay was about using jet packs to travel around the moon. Skelly's parents said he has an imagination that produces some brilliant ideas and he then finds a way to make them fit real-world models. He tries his hand at just about everything, they said, from writing comic strips to trivia and sports. They said he is driven by the challenge of every endeavor. They said they are lucky to have a yard that has an open view to the night skies, and have seen so many space events as a result. They said they love to see Gavin position the moon between his thumb and index finger and squish it together. In his essay, Skelly talks about being on the moon and homesick, all while having a main goal of fig- uring out how to survive. He then takes readers through daily tasks of setting up a new world after bring- ing food, animals and plants along on the journey. "On the second day, we used solar-powered cars to explore," he writes. "We found ice in a dark, cold crater, and took samples to experi- ment on day three and it was drink- able." He writes about setting up a tent with an airlock and raising crops and animals after air was pumped in, then mapping out the terrain for best resources for mining minerals and expanding the base with the help of robot servants. "We plan to leave it for future astronauts. My crew of three spent the last day getting to know each other," he writes. "I think a squad of four is the best since it maximizes the capacity of the spaceship and shelter. We said goodbye to the moon after one final look." A 5th-grader at St. Pius V Catholic School in Providence, and brother to a 5-year-old sister named Evelyn, Skelly enjoys baseball and has dreams of possibly also perhaps being a professional athlete. He said he enjoys playing catch in the yard with his dad as well as watching movies, particularly action movies, with his family. The essay contest was issued in collaboration with NASA's Artemis Program, which will land the first woman and the next man on the moon. Using innovative technolo- gies to explore more of the lunar surface than ever before, the Artemis Program will use what is learned on and around the moon to take the next giant leap: sending astronauts to Mars. On March 23, NASA held a vir- tual event where contest participants had the chance to learn about space exploration from NASA astronauts and others. At the conclusion of the event, the semifinalists were unveiled. As a semifinalist, Skelly will receive an Artemis prize pack filled with space-themed prizes plus the opportunity to attend a series of virtual Artemis Explorer Sessions with NASA experts. On April 7, the contest will be narrowed to nine national finalists, who will be interviewed about their essays. In May, the grand prize winners will be announced, each of them win- ning a family trip to attend NASA's Artemis I launch at Kennedy Space Center. Local boy a semifinalist with essay about life on the moon By ETHAN SHOREY Valley Breeze Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com SKELLY

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