When there is no global pandemic, the national competition takes place in Virginia. But this year, challenge organizers, the Aerospace Industry Association and the National Association of Rocketry, have chosen to host the competition over two weekends in June at multiple venues across the country.
Middle school students from the Richards RV School District, West Plains, Missouri, compete in the American Rocketry Challenge national finals on Saturday at the Air Force Museum. Eileen McClory / Staff
The results will be recorded and the winners of the competition will be announced at the end of June.
Cody Lovan, a college science and engineering teacher for the Richards RV School District in West Plains, Missouri, said a few kids on the team she helps mentor are considering a career in aerospace then that they would not have done before.
“So for me, it’s seeing them change; realize they can do things they probably thought they couldn’t do, ”she said. “They’re becoming rocket scientists, really.”
It’s not easy to make these rockets. For most teams, it takes at least a full school year to prepare a rocket for launch.
Gage Willis, left, and Billy Satterfield, right, of North Marion High School, Farmington, West Virginia, prepare to compete in the American Rocketry Challenge at the Air Force Museum on Saturday. Eileen McClory / STAFF
But the payoff could be huge: the winner of the first place of the contest will take home $ 20,000 for the team and $ 1,000 for his school. Even the fifth place team could win up to $ 8,500 in cash.
Dave Combs, president of Wright Stuff Rocketeers, a local rocket enthusiast club that helped organize the Dayton-area launch, said a team needs to consider many factors. Air temperature, humidity level, how high they should aim when launching, all require critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
“This is real science and real app, and they are exceptionally smart kids,” he said.
The second day of the rocket competition at the museum is Sunday. Several Ohio teams will compete, including teams from Minster, Sylvania and West Chester. The competition is not open to the public.