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BOULDER, Colo. — Excitement is building for the latest mission to Mars. CU Boulder is about to launch the MAVEN project, a $670 million spacecraft that will study the Martian atmosphere.

A Boulder kindergarten enrichment program earned a mission to Mars by winning a nationwide art contest. Images from their art project are going into space onboard the MAVEN spacecraft.

At the tender age of 6 the kids at Crest View Elementary School in Boulder are celebrating a once in a lifetime opportunity.

Isaiah Razavi is a student in Jill Williams’ kindergarten enrichment program. Isaiah said, “We thought it would be a fun thing to compete in.” They competed in … and won the “MAVEN Going to Mars student art contest.”

The students put their science and art skills to the test. Using papier-mâché, they built models of Mars. Their mission was to create things that they just couldn’t live without. After all, the trip to Mars would take 6 to 10 months.

Isaiah said, “I put on a giant squid that could protect me from Martians. I put Landrick on Mars … I could not live without him.”

They sent off their entries, along with 377 other schools.

The entries were from kids ranging in age from kindergarten to high school. Teacher Jill Williams said, “Every day we went on and looked at other entries and they all selected their favorite entry … not one of them had our project as their favorite!”

But the rest of the country did vote for them. Williams said, “Winning this competition … I can’t even say … out of this world. I have to say it was out of this universe!”

Isaiah added, “I was going nuts. At first when they explained it, I thought you yourself would go up to space. But it wasn’t. I would say it was pretty fun.”

The students won’t be going but digital images of their artwork will be headed to Mars on the Maven spacecraft.

And some of the kids will be on hand, with their teacher, for the launch from Cape Canaveral next week. Landrick said, “I’ve seen video of a launch, but I’ve never seen a launch, pretty amazing my artwork is going on this one.”

Williams said, “It surely shows you when you offer simple things and you have impressionable minds, where children can take us.”

MAVEN is scheduled to launch on Monday, November 18 at 11:28 a.m. MT.

CU Boulder will host a launch party, including the children from Crest View Elementary School who can’t make the trip to Florida.