Persistence pays off for space camp squad

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 12:00am

After two years of failing to achieve lift-off, two of the six winners of this year's MassMutual Junior Space Camp Competition finally fired their rockets and proved that perseverance pays off.

Harris Lo Ho-hin and Ivan Li Chon-ho had entered the popular design contest in 2002 and 2003 but never made it past the first round.

The annual competition, in its sixth year, attracted nearly 2,000 creative entries, including musical compositions, art works and literature.

The six winners will go to the United States Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama, next week, joining children from Taiwan and the US for activities including a virtual moonwalk in a gravity-adapted simulator and experiencing how it feels to blast off and manoeuvre aboard a space shuttle.

'Two boys in particular showed a lot of perseverance by re-entering after they failed to get noticed in previous years,' said Jeanne Sau, MassMutual's senior vice-president, marketing support.

'One of the themes we want to convey in the competition is that nothing is impossible. You always have a chance to win if you try. Harris and Ivan lived up to that.'

The winners were chosen from 16 finalists by a selection panel that included legislative councillors, university heads and Secretary for Education and Manpower Arthur Li Kwok-cheung.

Each had a 10-minute interview in which the judges asked them questions to test their determination and willingness to face up to a challenge.

'One of the winners impressed the judges when he told them that he joined a space society so he could expand his knowledge of space - not just to look at the stars,' said Ms Sau.

'It showed a real enthusiasm to learn. Seeing that the objective of the Space Camp is to enhance self-confidence, the judges' decisions were based on who showed the most positive attitude. Many of the finalists were asked how they would react if they were not selected. Those who said they would learn from the experience and try again next year, or were happy just to reach the final round, made a good impression.'

The six winners were Olivia Chau, Ivan Li, Michelle Chan Lok-yee, Calvin Chiu Chi-him, Natasha Cheng and Harris Lo.