Broomfield girl blends loves of space and writing, named finalist in nationwide essay contest

Brooklyn Dance, Daily Camera, Boulder, Colo.
·4 min read

Apr. 17—Last summer, Aanshi Shah and her family got a telescope. Aanshi, eager to learn what all she could see with it, constantly browsed the NASA website.

One day, she came across an essay contest posted on the website.

"And I love writing and I love space, so I thought it would be a great time to take part in it," Aanshi, 11, and a sixth grade student at Thunder Vista P-8 said.

The Future Engineers Artemis Moon Pod essay contest prompted writers to imagine leading a one-week expedition to the moon's south pole. Writers were asked to explain what types of skills they would bring to their crew as well as what piece of technology they would leave on the moon for future astronauts.

Aanshi's essay was selected as one of the three finalists in the grades 5 through 8 group. About 14,000 students nationwide entered the contest between three age groups: K-4, 5-8 and 9-12.

Aanshi said she went to the Broomfield Library looking for essay inspiration after she didn't have much luck online.

"I was about to leave empty-handed, but I saw they were growing veggies in a vertical aeroponic system, and I read more about it and I thought it was a really nice system," she said. "I thought I should include this in my essay. And that's how I built up my team."

Inspired by the solar-powered vertical aeroponic farm, Aanshi got to work. She explained in her essay she would bring a botanist, a hydrogeologist, a solar energy engineer and a physician — each holding an important role in her goal of leaving a source of food and water for future visitors. The physician, she said, would study the physical and mental effects of the longest stay on the moon to date.

As part of making it to the top three, Aanshi won a trip to the Johnson Space Center to learn about lunar exploration. Aanshi said making it to the top three was her first goal — she's always wanted to go to the Johnson Space Center.

There will be one winner announced in each of the three age groups — a total of three students will win a family trip to see the first Artemis test launch from the Kennedy Space Center.

The grand prize is a dream for Aanshi. She and the two other candidates in her grade group have to interview at the end of the month with a panel of judges before the winner is announced May 19. She said she's nervous, but excited to find out who wins.

Parth Shah, Aanshi's father, said he and Aanshi's mother got a call that Aanshi was a finalist, but they had to keep it a secret.

"The website was open from the beginning of the day until I got the results. It was just reload, reload, reload until I saw the finalist's names," Aanshi recalled. "I had just finished my piano lesson. I clicked end and I was like, where is Safari?"

And that's when Aanshi saw her name.

"My first reaction was, 'Yes!'" Aanshi said as she threw her hands in the air. "The second was screaming and running into my parent's bedroom, like, 'Yes!' ... I'm just happy to see my name and think, wow, I beat all those people. They had great efforts, but there's still more to do."

Aanshi has been fascinated with space from a young age. She said when she grows up, she wants to be an astronaut, but also a doctor. If she has the ability, she would live on Mars, she added.

"I'll keep a thread here and pull her back down because I need her," Parth said, laughing.

Parth said Aanshi grew up writing various stories and poems about space.

"She's pretty dedicated to whatever she does," he said.

Thunder Vista P-8 shared on its Facebook page that it was excited to announce Aanshi was one of the nine finalists nationwide.

"We are so proud of her achievement and excited to celebrate with Aanshi!" the post read.

Aanshi wanted to thank the Broomfield LIbrary for always having what she needs — whether by coincidence or if she's actually searching. And in this case, the inspiration she needed for her award-winning essay.