Lake Braddock junior Claire White landed a second victory in the NASA Student Involvement Program in the field of science and technology journalism with her paper on remote-controlled vehicles, titled "Remote Controlled Altair to Join NASA's Toy Box."
White admitted that space wasn't her main interest, but her interest was tweaked when she found out how much information was out there.
"I really wasn't interested in space, but it appealed to me," Claire said. "So much of it is really up-to-date stuff."
The "stuff" she concentrated on was the Altair, a remote-controlled, unmanned air vehicle (UAV). Last year's paper "Expedition 4 Conducts More Experiments," on experiments on the International Space Station, was a first-place winner, as well.
"The hardest part was researching, especially the government stuff," Claire said, although she was surprised by how much she could find out about the UAV program, which is used by the Department of Defense as well.
Claire's research paper shows signs of the technology era she is immersed in. She laid it out in a three-column format with colored pictures and graphics. It was done on the Quark desktop publishing program. Her father, Terry, is a freelance journalist, working with association papers and the Springfield Chamber of Commerce.
"She's amazing. I used to sit her on my knee and say, 'Here's what you do,'" Terry White said.
In middle school, Claire was the editor of The Bruin Times, but this year she didn't get into the journalism elective class, so she's not working on the high-school newsletter staff.
Her prize is a trip to NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., with her teacher, Mary Ann Donelan. Last year, she went to Gulf Port, Miss. Donelan will accompany Claire to Hampton in the first week of May. Donelan's had several students win NASA contests over the years.
"She [Claire] is a very talented young lady. The NASA contest gives students a tremendous opportunity. They give you wonderful access to their facilities. Notice my classroom is full of NASA posters?" she said.
SQUEEZING THE TRIP into her busy schedule will be a feat in itself, though. In addition to having an interest in journalism and science, Claire plays the violin in the Lake Braddock string symphony, gives violin lessons to two children, takes karate, is working on her Girl Scout Gold Award, and maintains at least a 3.8 grade point average. She's modest about a 3.8 average, though. She got all A's on her last report card but feels the A in math was a stroke of luck.
"I hardly ever get an A in math," she said.
The karate started as a school sport in physical education, and she kept at it. Now she goes three or four times a week and likes the teaching aspect of it.
"I'll probably get to be a black belt in less than a year. I can break boards, but it's the whole idea, it's about respect," she said.
Claire's schedule is full, so when does she get to be a teenager?
"I really like all this other stuff I'm doing. My friends and I do stuff on the weekends, though. I'm busy, but I'm happy," she said.
This summer, Claire is enrolled in the Governor's School for Humanities. She'll attend a four-week course at the University of Richmond.
"I had friends that had gone, and they said it was a good experience," she said.
She has her eyes on attending the College of William and Mary when she graduates.