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Two eggs, some Styrofoam, and a firm knowledge of rocket science have earned two teams from Northview High School a finalist spot at the Team America Rocketry Competition, held in Washington in May.
Hosted by the Aerospace Industries Association, the competition had more than 800 entries from junior and high school students nationwide. The 100 top teams were selected for the final challenge on May 10 in the nation’s capital.
Early Tuesday morning, Ryan Reed, engineering instructor at Northview, and students were in the process of reconstructing their model rockets and the rocket launcher. The students are part of the engineering technology college preparatory program.
“There’s a lot behind it. It’s a big learning curve,” senior Andrew Drabek, 17, said. Part of this year’s five-member senior team, he attended the event last year and designed this year’s model rocket with catastrophic contingencies in mind.
The model rocket, with a cardboard shell and foam interior to hold the eggs, breaks off in three pieces: the cone, body, and base with wings attached.
“Last year, the motor mount burnt out the insides,” he said. If that happens again, he can switch out the body with a new part.
He even made the wings detachable to insert various wing sizes that factor in wind speed. Humidity, wind, and temperature can all affect the altitude of the rocket.
“It’s all rocket science,” he said.
Preston Due, 17, part of the seven-member junior team, held the model rocket that was launched 10 times for them to qualify in the final round. He explained the science behind takeoff. To some, it may seem like a foreign language, but he rattled it off like second nature.
“It’s a challenge, and fun to build. The most exciting part is to see it shoot off. It goes really fast,” he said about the model rocket that they hope will win first place.
Mr. Reed explained the narrow rules for the rocket flight: The rocket has to hold two eggs and a parachute, it must reach an altitude of 825 feet, and have a flight duration of between 48 and 50 seconds. All that, and there is a weight limit of 650 grams that includes all moving parts.
Points are deducted by judges if any of those criteria are not met.
Junior Yuhang Zou, 17, calculated all the variables and assisted in the junior team rocket design. As of now, the model rocket shoots out at precisely 825 feet in 47.9 seconds, he said.
The day before the final rocket launch, the students will display their rockets on Capitol Hill.