In this battle of the brains, the sky's no limit.
During the next few weeks, kids from five San Fernando Valley elementary schools will compete in a science fair with students from more than a dozen other schools across the city for a chance to win an expense-paid trip to the U.S. Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala.
Each of the 22 schools that runs city-sponsored LA's BEST after-school enrichment programs will first sponsor its own science fair. The winners will then compete in a citywide competition June 22, said officials with LA's BEST, which stands for Better Educated Students for Tomorrow.
The top two or three winners of the citywide contest, along with their parents, will fly to the space camp a week later. There, they'll participate in a simulated rocket launch and experience what it's like to be weightless. They'll don full spacesuits, plan for emergencies and keep detailed journals.
And when they come back to Los Angeles, "they'll be jazzed about science, jazzed about school," said Tammy Sims, a spokeswoman for the program. In monetary terms, the trips are worth more than $1,000 each, Sims said. Delta Airlines will provide free flights for students and parents.
The Valley elementary schools that are entering students in the competition are Canoga Park and Hart Street in Canoga Park, Langdon Avenue in North Hills, Napa Street in Northridge, and Sylmar.
LA's BEST was created in 1988 through a partnership between the mayor's office, the Community Redevelopment Agency and the Los Angeles Unified School District. The program provides a range of free after-school activities to about 4,400 children who live in neighborhoods that are identified by the city as vulnerable to gangs, drugs and crime.
The program has sent 15 children and their parents to the U.S. Space Camp since 1991.