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Co-Winner Tyrel Johnson

Tyrel Johnson, a high school sophomore, is an avid space science and astronomy enthusiast. He learned about Chandra by reading Kip Thorne's book on black holes. This semester he is enrolled in a senior physics class as an elective.

``At first they weren't sure about having a sophomore in the class, but now it's fine,'' said the soft-spoken Johnson. Now, he said, the seniors are talking about throwing him a congratulatory party.

``He's a teacher's dream student,'' said science teacher Rick Alm. ``He'd come in after school just to have conversations about things -- things like astrophysics. Things other students would be bored with.''

Alm was the catalyst for Johnson's contest entry. Alm had just returned from a national science teachers convention in Las Vegas last spring and spread word of the contest.

Johnson was the only student interested in entering. He pestered Alm to remember to bring the paperwork to school from home.

``This guy is great,'' Alm said of Johnson. ``He's going to go places.''

One of the first places he will be going is to Cape Canaveral to watch Cmdr. Eileen Collins and crew lift off in the Space Shuttle Columbia which will deploy the Chandra X-ray Observatory.

(The story above contains excerpts from an article written by Susan Drumheller in The Spokesman-Review, December 21, 1998.)

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