Maui News

Maui Student Selected as Semifinalist in National “Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest” with NASA

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Nine year old Jayda Hansen of Kīhei, Maui was named one of 155 semifinalists in Future Engineer’s Artemis Moon Pod Essay Contest, a national competition held in collaboration with NASA, that asked K-12 students to imagine leading a one-week expedition at the Moon’s South Pole.

The Kamaliʻi Elementary School fourth grader will represent Hawaiʻi in the Grades K-4 category in the next round of competition.

Jayda Hansen of Kīhei, Maui. Courtesy photo.

Jayda’s essay, entitled “Artemis 3, Sprout,” proposed the idea of establishing a space-friendly biodome ecosystem for planting beans and sustaining life on the moon.

Jayda said, “Hopefully my essay will inspire others to explore the endless possibilities of space exploration. Everyone has a chance to contribute to the future Artemis missions in space. Our future is bright.”


According to her parents, Jayda has always shown an interest in science and engineering ever since she was little.

“She used to help at VEX robotics tournaments starting at the age of two,” said Jaylon Hansen, Jayda’s mom. “She was fascinated by the robots and wanted to build and drive them. She has participated in Brushbots and VEX competitions at her school as well as many Hour of Code events and Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day events.”

“Jayda creates equally impressive LEGO and block creations in our home. We never know what kind of structures and machines we will haveto step over to get to the couch,” said Jaylon.


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 technologies 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. 

As NASA sets out to inspire a whole new generation, the Artemis Generation, the essay contest invited students to imagine leading a one-week expedition at the Moon’s South Pole and to tell NASA all about it. This included writing about their expedition’s crew and technology, with an expectation of leaving their technology behind to help future astronauts explore the Moon. 

Approximately 14,000 essay submissions were received from K-12 students across the country and over 1,000 eligible judge volunteers comprised of educators, professionals, and space enthusiasts helped review essays. 


On March 23, NASA held a virtual event, where contest participants had the opportunity to learn about space exploration from speakers including: NASA Astronaut, Ricky Arnold, Associate Administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, Kathy Lueders, and Associate Administrator of NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement, Mike Kincaid. At the conclusion of the event, the semifinalists were unveiled. 

But there was one more surprise in store for all the students who submitted an entry: NASA will fly a digital copy of all 14,000 essays around the Moon aboard Artemis I. 

As a semifinalist, Jayda 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 which will win a family trip to attend NASA’s Artemis I launch at Kennedy Space Center. 


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