The winner of the National Geographic Children’s Books Planetary Mnemonic Contest is 10-year-old Maryn Smith of Great Falls, Mont. Her mnemonic, a handy way of recalling the newly assigned 11 planets, is My Very Exciting Magic Carpet Just Sailed Under Nine Palace Elephants. The mnemonic is being recorded into a song by Grammy-nominated singer and songwriter Lisa Loeb.
National Geographic Children’s Books created the contest in response to the recent announcement by the scientific community that there are now 11 recognized planets — Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Ceres, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and Eris. Pluto, Ceres and Eris are considered dwarf planets. The contest asked children nationwide to come up with an easy way to memorize this new celestial line-up. Smith’s mnemonic was selected from over 1,000 entries.
“When I got the call, my first response was, ‘I won?'” said Maryn. “I can’t believe that next year my teacher will be teaching her new class the order of the planets using my mnemonic!”
The contest was launched to coincide with the fall 2007 publication of “Planets, Stars and Galaxies: A Visual Encyclopedia of Our Universe,” by acclaimed astronomer David Aguilar. Loeb’s song incorporating the mnemonic will be released next month to coincide with the March 2008 publication of Aguilar’s next National Geographic book, “11 Planets: A New View of the Solar System.”
Loeb is best known for her No. 1 single “Stay” from the Reality Bites soundtrack. “We are thrilled that Lisa signed on to this planetary mnemonic project. She’s an amazing songwriter with a distinct voice and is a perfect fit to set Maryn’s words to music,” said Nancy Feresten, editor in chief of National Geographic Children’s Books. “Kids, parents, teachers and librarians who visit our Web site and listen to this remarkable collaboration will find it is a terrific learning tool.”