(Illustration by Moubon Ray Kurukumbi)

Moubon Ray Kurukumbi loves to explore. The 11-year-old’s curiosity about space exploration helped her create a bold design for KidsPost’s “America’s Return to Space” poster contest. The Fairfax, Virginia, resident included symbols of strength, teamwork and patriotism.

“America is putting astronauts in space, and I took that literally. I wanted to show diversity,” Moubon said. “I wanted to put a deeper meaning in the poster and make it colorful, too.”

When thinking about depicting America in the poster, Moubon said the first thing she thought of was Neil


Moubon Kurukumbi, 11, of Fairfax, Virginia, designed the winning poster. (Family photo)

Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon. The U.S. flag and the moon were meant to take over the poster because that was the beginning of America’s history in space, she said. The eagle symbolizes liberty and the fact that America has the independence to explore anything and anywhere. The hands reaching out represent teamwork and diversity.

Her use of symbols and their placement made her poster a favorite among the contest judges.

“The concept was well-thought out. It brought all the elements together in a very different way. Art is supposed to make you look and react, and this poster certainly did that,” said Washington Post design editor Suzette Moyer.

The Mosby Woods Elementary School student won tickets to the Astronaut Training Experience at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Central Florida as part of her prize package. She said she’s excited to experience what it’s like to live on Mars. Moubon’s favorite planet is Saturn, because of its rings. She knows it’s impossible to live there. At least for now.

“I like how space is never ending, and there is so much to discover,” she said. “There is no specific map for it, so wherever we go, we will always find something new.”