Tag Archives: grow corn in Mars

Bolivian intends to cultivate corn on Mars and will visit NASA

This is a very important and positive news for our beloved country! Nelfi Fernandez Reyes writes for El Deber:

Ever imagined to eat corn produced on Mars? Alejandra Gutierrez Vilar (15), the ninth grade high school student at the Holy Spirit, is firmly convinced that this is possible with the use of Robotics and genetic engineering. This initiative was winner of a scholarship to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

This ‘sucrense’ [born in Sucre, Chuquisaca], which at age five went to England with her mother who won a scholarship, lives in Santa Cruz since she was eight years old. She dreams of Robotics and genetic technology. She believes that man is able to create on the planet Mars,  automated environments – greenhouses – suitable for producing food for humans.

Alejandra already designed a project on how to make this dream a reality and she sen it to the College space-NASA through the US Embassy in Bolivia. Her proposal conquered the jury of the American institution and was selected from among 53 Bolivian applicants, together with the ‘cochabambina’ [born in Cochabamba] Isabella Bustamante Galvez, to form part of the project mission to Mars in two Houston NASA space centers.

Both the ‘chuquisaqueña’ and the ‘cochabambina’ integrate a team of 280 schoolboys from 48 countries around the world, which simulates a trip to Mars for two weeks (July 22 to August 6). The winners are brilliant talents and the best students in their schools, with skills in chemistry, physics and mathematics.

It is also the case of Vilar Gutierrez, one of the best students of the College of Holy Spirit, who their minimum annual average is 67 points [out of 70 possible], when she was in ninth grade. “I am not someone who needs pressure from her parents to perform their duties or living pending on grades, simply do what is for me: my tasks, because I do not want to have a mediocre future”, [she] highlights.

And the desire to be better and believe that “all dream can become reality is just which led to apply for scholarships, that each year offer the NASA space school. When I was in sixth grade I met a fellow of Santa Cruz and told me all his experience, then I said: I want also to go and that dream is now a reality “, she proudly commented.

On March 26th, is a day that Alexandra will never forget, which she already even immortalized in her memories. “It was just 14:30 when I received the phone call from the US Embassy which announced: “You have been selected to travel to the USA”, I started to cry with emotion, then I asked: ‘Huh?’, could not believe it.” “It was one of the happiest days of my life”.

To the question of how did you do to win?, our Bolivian delegate to the NASA responds quickly and concisely: “First, its due to God;” then by my grades, attachment and taste for the exact sciences, fluent in English and by my project adaptation of the soil and creating microclimates for the production of corn on Mars. “I have always believed that what one proposes, it can be achieved”.

From those remarks, El Deber has no doubt, as the mother of this young talent – that in the future it looks like working in the NASA Astrophysics – showed us the excellent academic journey of her daughter.

The concern of Alexandra by the rapid growth of the world population and the reduction of green spaces which in the future will result in food shortages for humanity, led her to design the winning plan: grow corn in Martian soil.

FIGURE – 16 Scholarships: Is the number of schoolchildren who were benefited with the scholarship to NASA since 2004


«Young people are content with little, must dare more for not having a mediocre future»

Alejandra Gutierrez | Student

How to apply for the scholarship?

Call. Rhea Borda, educational Advisor to the U.S. Embassy, reported that at beginning of each year is released the call for public and private schools students.

Requirements. Ninth grade high school students wishing to apply must have excellent grades in chemistry, mathematics and science, leadership skills, and speak English, among others.

The scholarship. The selected, will receive instruction in different disciplines related to space exploration. Much of their time will be in two centers for space, NASA has in Houston, Texas.

Commitment. Upon completion of the course of two weeks, the fellows return to the country to share their experiences and be a source of motivation for young people. So far 9 women and 7 men from La Paz, Oruro, Santa Cruz, Cochabamba and Sucre have benefited.

Two students travel each year

The ‘cochabambina’ Isabella Bustamante Galvez is the second winner of a fellowship with NASA. In telephone contact with El Deber, this 17-year-old student, of the American International Bolivian School, told that it was “an indescribable joy” to be selected. “I want my success to serve to motivate other students to join the program,” she said.

In her proposal, Isabella suggested NASA scientists to grow food, generate electricity, thaw and produce water, as well as housing for scientists on Mars.

Meanwhile, Diego Ballivián, Coordinator of academic programs in the Bolivia U.S. Embassy, reported that the College space of NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) annually takes two nine-grade Bolivian students to learn Aeronautics and other sciences related to space exploration in the space flight Center and the Lyndon B space center of NASA in Houston, USA. “This is a great opportunity with the fellows to meet space facilities in the hands of experts, also this trip opens the possibility to study and work in North America”, he noted.


Both, Alejandra Gutierrez Vilar and Isabella Bustamante Galvez not only make their families proud but ALL of us, they certainly have a great future and a spot inside The Hall of Bolivian Fame!!