At just 11 years old, Luciana Vega has big dreams. Not only does she want to be an astronaut, but she also wants to be the first person to go to Mars ever. She’s passionate about science and loves the idea of exploring new territories in space. Fortunately, she just won a scholarship to Space Camp in Huntsville, Ala., and there’s no doubt she’s determined to make her dreams a reality.
Luciana’s admirable drive is one of the reasons she got picked as American Girl’s 2018 Girl of the Year. Before she blasts off to Mars, she hopes to inspire girls to push beyond boundaries and reach for the stars. Girls can be whatever they want to be—a ballerina, a doctor, a teacher, a musician, a police woman, or for Luciana, a woman in STEM.
Today, Luciana visited Toy Insider HQ and what a delight she was! At 18 inches tall, this Chilean gem is not only book smart but also has killer style—I couldn’t help but envy her galaxy-printed dress and holographic combat boots.
While she’s very hardworking, Luciana has a fun side, too. She has a purple streak in her hair to show everyone how creative (and edgy) she is. She told me she got her hair styled and all of her clothes at the American Girl Doll Store in Rockefeller Plaza. (Dang, I should really stop ignoring Samantha and Felicity’s texts when they invite me for high tea there—that place looks amazing!!!).
Like many of her American Girl peers, Luciana arrived with a 164-page chapter book chronicling her story, as well as her out-of-this-world outfit. Props to author Erin Teagan and Scholastic for helping Luciana tell her tale.
Luciana also brought some of her space accessories with her. Before you even ask, YES, she did bring her space suit. Her all-white suit had a helmet with a visor that flips up, an equipment pack, gloves, a mirror for her wrist, and extra patches to put on her space suit. The equipment pack was a lot more bulky than I thought. Wow, she’s strong!
She then gave me an exclusive look at her Maker Station. At her Maker Station, Luciana designs and builds inventive robots for competitions. She showed me her tools of the trade—a robotic arm that can pick things up, measuring tape, a screwdriver, safety goggles, and her apron. She also gave me two Mega Construx builds I could assemble later for a satellite and a rover build. Luckily, she had drawn sketches of them for me to follow. Also, stickers—she had cute NASA space stickers. My scrapbooking self screeched like a lil girl.
Up on her Maker Set she had a picture of her female role model, NASA astronaut and oceanographer, Megan McArthur. Luciana also had a list of goals pinned up on her board. Her goals were: Go to space camp, meet an astronaut, finish rover designs, and apply for the STEM competition. Since she’s going to space camp and finished her designs, she’s halfway there!
After hanging with Luciana for a while, she eventually had to get home to work on new robotics design. She told me we could keep in touch with the American Girl app where I could unlock out-of-this-world experiences from her products, including augmented reality, exclusive videos, and space activities. I could also go online to her page and complete interactive space missions.
Luciana was fun, sweet, intelligent, and motivated to make her mark on this world (and well, maybe on other worlds, too). She inspired me to keep pushing myself to reach my goals and never let anyone discourage me. I really felt inspired!
Well until next time, Luciana! Fingers crossed you make it to Mars soon (pics or it didn’t happen!!!).
NOTE: To ensure the accuracy of Luciana’s story, American Girl worked with an advisory board that included Dr. Ellen Stofan, former NASA Chief Scientist; Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center; Dr. Megan McArthur Behnken, NASA Astronaut; and Maureen O’Brien, Manager of Strategic Alliances at NASA. The American Girl editors and designers also spent a day at Space Camp and NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, brushing up on the zero-gravity experience.