Sophie Crowder, a fourteen year old South Hill native and Freshman at Kenston Forest, has had one heck of a year. Back in January, Sophie and a team of others with her who called themselves The Pisces Project, participated in the Go For Launch - Full STEaM Ahead event, hosted by Higher Orbits, held in Durham, NC. According to sources, Higher Orbits is a non-profit organization that aims to promote STEM as well as leadership, communication and teamwork through space exploration. Go For Launch brought together students from grades 8-12 where they learned about the different aspects of space exploration with guidance from mentors such as NASA astronauts, Mission Controllers, Mission Specialists and space industry representatives. Sophie and her teammates were tasked with creating and designing their own experiment using the core principles of math, technology, engineering and science. The girls of Pisces Project built a mechanism that will enable the astronauts to create artwork aboard the International Space Station under microgravity conditions and they fit the mechanism into a four inch cube. Their experiment was judged upon completion by NASA astronaut Don Thomas, Higher Orbits and industry engineers who all determined the Pisces Project to be the best and awarded Sophie and her teammates first place. As the winners of this honor, the experiment, code named Pisces Project will be launched into outer space for a rendezvous with the International Space Station where astronauts there will experiment with the product while onboard the ISS. Sophie was the only girl from Virginia to be a part of the winning team. But it doesn’t stop there for this innovative and creative young lady. Just last week, Sophie attended another Go For Launch program sponsored by the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics, held at Lockheed Martin Global Vision Center in Arlington, Virginia. When asked what for her interested in space, Sophie stated that all credit goes to her mom. She explained that first it was a curiosity based on dinosaurs. “A meteor came down from space and wiped them all out and ever since then I was interested in space.” She further explained that her mom showed her the movie Star Wars and from then on her curiosity was peaked. She went on to say “my mom is the one who finds out about programs and helps me organize to get to them. My dad is the one who gave me my heart and soul for this.” She gets her passion for space honestly and made no qualms in explaining who her biggest fans are. Her little sister Ava spoke up however and took full credit for being Sophie’s biggest fan ever and no argument came from Sophie on the subject. The love and support from her family as well as the dreams in her mind are what fuel her drive to succeed. Sophie Crowder has no intention of stopping or even slowing down in her quest to reach the stars.