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Krystal Horton shoots for the stars with Western Science Academy STEM program


Last updated 1/11/2019 at 12:27am

Courtesy photo

Western Center Academy Senior Krystal Horton poses with Apollo 16 astronaut Charlie Duke.

HEMET – A senior at Western Center Academy is making quite a name for herself in the science world. Last year, Krystal Horton won a first place special award at the International Science and Engineering Fair with another fellow student. This year, her work around nature reserves has been published, and she is one of 22 student ambassadors for the Back to Space mission.

The Back to Space mission is a space module which is being designed and built to hold eight crew members. According to the website, "Based on the goals of the project, the crew will consist of multiple Apollo astronauts, the host of the TV show (Danielle Roosa), and potentially multiple student STEM competition winners."

In addition to the possibility of being sent to space, Horton and her fellow student ambassadors will help with the documentary and reality TV series. The series will focus on the original Apollo astronauts, show the selection and training of those going to space, the production of the space capsule and multiple Apollo 50th anniversary events.

Courtesy photo

The Back to Space mission chose 22 student ambassadors, including senior Krystal Horton, center in green, of Western Center Academy, to preserve aerospace and astronauts' history; to inspire students through science, technology, engineering and math and to design and build a space module.

Horton's work focused on insects found in nature reserves was published recently. Since her sophomore year, she has been working with a Mt. San Jacinto College professor to determine how the presence of humans affects the genome of other living creatures. They received permission to set up insect traps in two locations, one in a heavily populated area and one in a nature reserve. They found a common insect in the two traps and were able to study the genetic differences between the insects found in both locations.

"No one tells you how hard the process is," Horton said.

She said that after submitting the project for peer-review, she had to submit pages of revisions based on the feedback she has received. Although the research process can take years until it is finally complete, she said the highlight so far was when a Harvard professor reviewed her work and provided positive feedback, saying that she was going in the right direction but that she may want to add in more statistics to verify the validity of her findings.

Submitted by Western Center Academy.


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