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Girl Scout goes to Space Camp on Leadership Scholarship


LillyAnne Zilko

Macedonia, OH- Girl Scout Junior LillyAnne Zilko of Troop 50215 is a remarkable girl.  In 1st grade, she told her teacher she wanted to be an astrophysicist.  Many adults may not know what that is, but Lilly did then and it is still her dream.  She began her interest of space while watching a video in that 1st grade classroom and the draw to the stars has remained strong.  She says it's because "out of all the planets, we're the only one with living humans on it".

Lilly will soon start 5th grade but before that she'll experience the thrill of her young life.  You see, back in January of this year she applied to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama just hoping to get a scholarship to go this summer.  Two months later a letter arrived stating she was a recipient of a full scholarship!  Lilly is only 9, one of the younger applicants and this is the first year she is finally eligible to apply.  Only 100 children receive these and there are over 1,000 applicants annually.  Her mother, Christina, says when Lilly read the letter she "flew off the couch"!  Her scholarship will cover tuition, room and board. 

Lilly and her family enjoy NASA nights at Great Lakes Science Center.  That's where she met retired astronaut Terry Virts just a couple days before receiving her award letter.  She has met three astronauts including Douglas H. Wheelock and is thrilled to have more than a few autographs of those she looks up to so.

Lilly applied for Space Camp Robotics Camp in the Leadership catagory.  She had to do a science experiment and describe the scientific method she used (Lilly's experiment consisted of showing how a hard boiled egg can be sucked into a glass bottle), submit letters of recommendation, essays and a drawing and description of a mission patch.  Her mission patch drawing included a tent to represent her love for Girl Scouting, a telescope to represent her love of space, the words "Semper Fidelis" to recognize her 1 1/2 years as a Greater Lorain Young Marine, a poppy to show her place as a Poppy Princess in the American Legion Junior Auxiliary, a United States flag and a softball because Lilly is an active softball player as well.

Lilly was asked on her application to choose three possible dates that she might like to be a part of Space Camp this summer.  She got her first choice--the first week of July! Even though she'll be missing out on all the family parties back here in Lorain County Ohio, Lilly decided she'd rather have lunch with former Ohio astronaut Don Thomas and see fireworks set off from the Rocket Center this year.

Although her scholarship does not include travel expenses, her family will be reimbursed.  Aerospace Mechanisms Symposium--led by NASA and Lockheed Martin Space--were so excited to hear of LillyAnne's trip to Space Camp that they offered to pay for the family's travel and asked Lilly to join them on stage this year.  She also recently received a letter of congratulations from Ohio State Senator Gayle Manning.  It's obvious many view Lilly as an extraordinary young girl.

Lilly can't wait to try the zero gravity chair, work on underwater robotics, experience the astronaut simulators and stay for a week in Habitat One.

So, if you're traveling this summer and happen to pass a car with a sign that says "Space Camp or Bust", give this Girl Scout a wave and two thumbs up.  She deserves it!