Tuesday, Jan. 28
Niles Ribeiro, a sophomore at Fauquier High School, has been groomed since an early age to develop a theoretical and practical knowledge of science.
“We hope that eventually our children will contribute something to society, and leave this world a better place than it was when they came into it,” said Eldred Ribeiro, Niles’ father.
Niles was recently accepted to participate in the 2014 Virginia Space Coast Scholars program. He has begun to study science, engineering and technology that is integral to current NASA missions at the Wallops Flight Facility. Niles will complete the online course, on top of his other schoolwork and duties as sophomore class president.
Once the online class is complete, Niles will compete against other sophomores in the program for a chance to spend seven days at a summer academy at NASA Goddard Wallops Flight Facility.
“I always really liked studying space and programing,” said Niles. “What NASA is teaching me is a combination of both of those things and much more.”
He is prepared to take on the challenging material thanks to his experiences in Math Club, helping his older brother launch rockets, and learning about astronomy from his father over the summer.
“My parents and older brother have always helped me to understand my questions about math and science,” said Niles.
His mother, Vineeta Ribeiro, a math teacher at Warrenton Middle School and the coordinator of the upcoming Fauquier County Regional Science & Engineering Fair, along with his father have used their own scientific knowledge to instill in Niles and the rest of their children a great understanding and passion for scientific exploration.
“My wife and I are advocates of integrated learning,” said Eldred. “We have brought our kids up with a Renaissance learning approach, combining theoretical understanding with practical knowledge.”
Eldred works in bioengineering at the MITRE Corporation. His background is in physics, but he has a vast area of scientific interest, and contributed work to the Human Genome Project.
The Ribeiros have a laboratory set up at home for their children to use and learn in. Eldred explained that whenever a household appliance breaks, he has the children dismantle it as a learning opportunity. They stockpile different mechanical components to use for engineering projects.
The children also learn from documentaries, historic books, and from holistic training in things like music.
Eldred believes that Nile’s acceptance into the Space Coast Program will launch him into greater things.
“I think it’s a good opportunity for him,” said Eldred. “He has a strong interest in the work that NASA does. He has the persistence and determination to really learn from the program.”
He went on to say that not only will the program be beneficial to Niles, but his son will also be a benefit to the program as well.
“It’s really a win-win for both sides,” said Eldred. “He will learn a lot from the program, and I think that he has a lot to contribute to their work as well.”
Niles applied to the program after Vineeta saw the deadline listed in the Virginia Department of Education newsletter. She said that she was unaware of the program until she came across it by chance, and hopes that other Fauquier Students will learn about it so that they can participate as well.
“I really hope that other students are aware and interested in the program, and are looking forward to participating in coming years,” said Vineeta.
Niles with one of his telescopes at home. Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Hannah Dellinger