5,000 High School Students Compete in Rocket Contest

Nearly 5,000 high school students on 789 teams are competing in the 14th annual Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC). After contest representatives receive information on the rocket launches most teams are making this month, they will invite the 100 best to the TARC national finals May 14 near Washington, D.C.

This year's challenge to the teams is to design, engineer and build rockets that can carry a payload consisting of two eggs placed perpendicular to each other. To qualify, the teams must return the payloads to earth after the rockets carrying them fly to at least 850 feet in the air between 44 and 46 seconds.

Rockets that fly exactly to the requirements will receive perfect scores of zero. However, points are given as deductions from the perfect flight. For instance, points will be given if the eggs are cracked or broken, if the flight takes longer or shorter than the 44 to 46 seconds, etc.

The 100 best teams will compete with their rockets at the Great Meadow in The Plains, VA, about 45 minutes from Washington, D.C. They will compete for prizes and scholarships worth more than $100,000 and the national champion will travel to the Farnborough International Air Show near London to compete in the International Rocketry Challenge against teams from Europe and Asia.

Among the nearly 800 teams of high school students are 43 made up completely of girls and several that used 3D printers to fabricate their rockets. One team from Wisconsin sold 9,000 muffins to fund its school's rocketry program.

The TARC is jointly organized by the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA) and the National Association of Rocketry.

"We believe the skills students discover and build while participating in this program will propel them to pursue education and careers in STEM fields, specifically in the aerospace industry," said AIA President and CEO David F. Melcher.

Major TARC sponsors include the Raytheon Company, Lockheed Martin, Thales USA, Boeing and Elbit Systems of America.

About the Author

Michael Hart is a Los Angeles-based freelance writer and the former executive editor of THE Journal.