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6-Year-Old Brazilian Wins Nasa Award

03/30/2017 - 13h49

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SALVADOR NOGUEIRA
FOLHA CONTRIBUTOR

In a Nasa contest about space colonization, out of more than 6.000 students from all over the world, a Brazilian took first place in the category of literary merit. João Paulo Guerra Barrera, from São Paulo, is only six years old.

The Nasa Ames Space Settlement Contest has been held yearly since 1994 by the Ames Research Center, part of the American space agency, and is open to students up to 18 years of age.

There are several categories divided by age group, in addition to the Grand Prize and prizes for artistic and literary merit which are open to all participants.

Barrera won the award precisely in one of the categories open to competitors from all age groups. He wrote a computer game, Sonic World Space Settlement, based on a bilingual Portuguese-English book that he himself wrote last year: "In the World of the Moon and the Planets".

In the game, a trio of children go on a space adventure by constructing a rocket from recycled parts and exploring the planets in the Solar System. Barrera developed the game under the guidance of Felipe Paquiele, a professor at the Happy Code school, where he is studying programming.

And how did the young winner feel about the international conquest? "Very happy and wishing I could travel in space at zero gravity", he told the Folha.

"The greatest inheritance we can leave for him is the strength to aspire to triumphs and the capacity to absorb failures", said Margarida Barrera, João Paulo's mother.

Brazil registered its first participants in Nasa competitions in 2011 but the awards only came along in 2017. In addition to Barrera's victory, four other Brazilian projects were given mention.

With this performance, Brazil came in at fourth place, ahead of countries like Japan, China, Canada and Russia, which have major space related traditions. First place went to India, with 138 awards, including the Grand Prize. Second went to Romania, with 33 awards. The United States, the country headquarters, received 16.

Translated by LLOYD HARDER

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