Congressman Lamborn Prairie Winds Elementary student writes essay downloaded to Mars rover

April 13, 2021
In The News

By Benn Farrell – The Tribune


MONUMENT • 11-year-old Cora Vine Maddox’s writing is literally out of this world.


Maddox, a resident of Monument who attends Prairie Winds Elementary School, was shown an article about Clara Ma, a middle-schooler who won a contest to name NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity which launched and landed on the fourth planet from the sun in 2012. At the bottom of the article was the announcement of a new contest to name the 2019-2020 Mars rover.

The invitation piqued Maddox’s interest, and she decided to enter an essay with her name suggestion, Imagination. Maddox has a passion for writing and being an author is one of her career aspirations.


“Imagination is the best name for the rover because I believe that the images the rover will send back and the discoveries it will make will spark the imagination of many people worldwide,” Maddox wrote in her essay.


“Imagination provides the path to the truth. If NASA engineers had never imagined the designs for the rover, the simple truth would be that the rover wouldn’t exist.”


After her essay submission, she received an email stating she was named a semi-finalist from a field of about 28,000 entries. She was one of only 155 semi-finalists.


However, she was notified her name selection would not move into the final field of nine. Still, the journey for her submitted essay was far from over.


As a result of her semi-finals selection, Maddox was recognized with an award presented to her by Congressman Doug Lamborn at his office. She also received notification from NASA that her essay would still be downloaded to a microchip that would be installed in the rover to be carried throughout its mission.


“It actually makes me happy to know some of my work is actually as we speak rolling around the surface of Mars,” Maddox said.


The latest Mars rover, which safely landed on the Martian surface Feb. 18, was named Perseverance by seventh-grader Alex Mather from Virginia.


Maddox was 10 when she wrote her Mars-bound essay and said it was exciting to be able sit and speak with a U.S. Congressman on the day of her award. The notoriety also made her feel validated in her ability to write.


“It made me feel like my essay for the rover was exceptional, like I had written a high-quality piece,” Maddox said.

Maddox’s aspirations for the written word involve a variety of formats through her young life including stories and novels. Her flair points to genres of fiction, mystery and some science fiction. Presently, Maddox is working on a non-fiction book of memoirs written during the COVID-19 pandemic.


“I thought it was something eventful I could write about,” she said.

In addition, Maddox met a challenge issued by her father one summer to write one poem a day for a month. The resulting work was compiled and self-published into a poetry book. She had been scheduled to have a book reading and signing for the collection in April 2020, but with pandemic prevention measures in full effect, the event was canceled.


“She was verbose and creative at a very early age,” mother Carla Maddox said. “She has always been eloquent with words.”


Carla Maddox noted her daughter’s venture to write a series of books when Cora Vine was in the first grade. She had produced a three-book series involving a magical orca.


The young writer’s other career aspiration is to be some sort of museum chaperone or curator, feeding her high passion for U.S. history. She spends some of her time reading, skateboarding and training in ballet.