A 12-year-old Kelowna boy has won his tuition to attend a space academy in Alabama because of his exceptional abilities in academics.Marcus Coetzee, a grade-six home schooled student, will be attending the U.S. Space Academy this June in Huntsville, Alabama. The program is designed for students from grades four to 12 although to win the scholarship a student must go through a vigorous application process. Story continues below
“I needed two short written essays, one on what personal attributes I developed to go to Mars in 20 years and another one on why I would like to go to space camp,” Coetzee said. “I also needed two letters of recommendation — I needed to design a mission patch, I also needed to design, execute and document a project that showcased my knowledge of the scientific method.”Coetzee isn’t your typical 12-year-old. Currently he is taking grade 11 math and physics and is home schooled because his intelligence far exceeds his age. His father, Charl Coetzee, wants to keep challenging his son so that he can reach his full potential.“Its been quite a rise, we have been very, very grateful and blessed with Marcus,” Charl said. “We had to go into home schooling at a relatively early age because we discovered with his interests in math and science and actually quite a broad interest base, that was really just the only way that we could create a properly individualized education for him.” The space camp is the same training that actual astronauts have to go through and Marcus said he can’t wait to experience it first-hand.“There is always something to learn especially about space. It’s mysterious. There is a lot of things we don’t know,” he said. “It’s that unknown that propels people to go further, research and find new knowledge.”The day Coetzee received the news that he was accepted and given a full scholarship to space camp, is a day he will not soon forget.“I went downstairs and my mom said, ‘Hey I’ve got something to show you,’ and she went onto her phone, onto her emails and she showed me,” he said. “I just saw the logo and I knew what was going on, it was pretty incredible.”Most students have to pay $1000 to attend the U.S. Space Academy’s six day camp. It’s clear that Charl Coetzee is a proud father and he has every right to be.“I think there was a lot of whooping happening in the house we were all pretty much bouncing off the walls with excitement when we got the ,” he said. “He also plays the violin at an extremely high level and as he says he is fascinated by the unknown and the mystery and the things still to be discovered”
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