Triumph of the rocket wranglers
Georgia students take top honors in international rocket challenge
Every egg escaped unharmed.
Four high-school students from the northern Georgia community of Canton won the July 20 international rocket fly-off at the Farnborough International Airshow 2018 near London.
The Creekview High School students competed against teams from the U.K., France and Japan. Their home-built rocket Tina, named for her curiously small fins, flew for just over 39 seconds to an altitude of about 797 feet.
The 2018 rules required each rocket to carry two raw eggs 800 feet aloft and return them to Earth unbroken, all within a tight time frame of 41 to 43 seconds. The U.S. oral presentation, held on the day before the fly-off, won a score of 50, the best of the lot. They were recognized for their win in a ceremonial presentation from two genuine spacefarers: former astronaut Don McMonagle, now of Raytheon, and current U.K. astronaut Tim Peake.
It was the fourth consecutive U.S. win in the annual competition. France placed second this year. Japan was third, and the U.K. came in fourth. All of the eggs made it back to the ground intact.
“This has been an amazing journey,” said team captain Brayden Dodge, 18, before the competition.
The Creekview High team traveled to Farnborough after winning the U.S. Team America Rocketry Challenge in May. Each spring, high school teams from across the country gather in rural Virginia to compete for the chance to represent the U.S. at the International Rocketry Challenge.
Joining a rocketry team can help students develop and hone their skills in science, engineering, technology and math – the subjects collectively known as STEM. In the U.S., only 33 percent of eighth-graders are at or above a proficient level in math, according to NationsReportCard.gov. A rocketry team can be a fun way to help inspire a career in a STEM field like engineering, jet propulsion or rocket science.
“This competition demonstrates to high school students across the country how they can solve difficult challenges by working together as a team and using their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” said Tom Kennedy, chairman and CEO of Raytheon, an event sponsor. “I am hopeful they will take these lessons with them as they become our next generation of engineers, scientists, technologists and mathematicians who will unlock incredible innovations to make the world a better place.”
Over the past sixteen years of the Rocketry Challenge, more than 70,000 students have participated. This year, there were 12 all-girl teams competing at the U.S. national competition, with one third of the total participating students being female.