2012-05-23 / Education

Casey Middle students place in rocketry competition

by KEATON T. DEPRIEST Associate Editor


The Casey Middle School Team America Rocketry Challenge team competed in a national fly-off in Virginia on May 12. They attended a breakfast and met judges, including Susan Lavrakas, Aerospace Industries Association workforce director. From left to right are William Walkowski, Aleksandar Cerne, Garrett Breindel, Lavrakas, Jason Bialkowski, Adam Blocher and Daniel Warren. The Casey Middle School Team America Rocketry Challenge team competed in a national fly-off in Virginia on May 12. They attended a breakfast and met judges, including Susan Lavrakas, Aerospace Industries Association workforce director. From left to right are William Walkowski, Aleksandar Cerne, Garrett Breindel, Lavrakas, Jason Bialkowski, Adam Blocher and Daniel Warren. On May 12, eight students from Casey Middle School from the Team America Rocketry Challenge team competed in the National Fly-Off at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va., near Washington D.C.

The contest required teams of three to 10 students in grades seven through 12 to build and fly a model rocket of their own design.

The rockets had to carry two raw eggs to 800 feet above the ground and return them by parachute — all within 43 to 47 seconds.

“To get to the nationals was a team real treat,” said William Stewart, who is the team’s adviser and a Casey Middle guidance counselor.

He said more than 6,000 students in 679 teams from 48 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands participated in the overall competition.

As a result of local qualifying with an observer from the National Association of Rocketry, Casey Middle had one of 100 teams invited to the finals at Great Meadow. Stewart said the school was one of only three in the state to qualify for the finals.

The Casey Middle team placed 33rd out of the 100 schools that qualified for the national event.

“The event went all day long,” Stewart said. “It was really great for the students. We had such great weather, too.”

Members of the TARC team include Adam Blocher, Jason Bialkowski, Garrett Breindel, Aleksandar Cerne, Dennis Hohensee, Elena Kotrides, William Walkowski and Daniel Warren.

The team met each Wednesday after school beginning in the fall when they initiated the design and building phase of their rocket. Each weekend, beginning in February, they held test flights at the school.

“The students use computer simulations to build and design the rockets,” Stewart said. “The motors in them are commercially prepared, and the students follow careful safety regulations.”

During the finals, the teams have a preparation hour to get the rocket ready for launch and a flight window of one hour. Even though the team had one misfire during the launch, the students kept working to ensure they were giving their best effort.

“You just never give up,” said Adam, the team’s project manager.

“Even if you do bad, you’re doing rocket science, and that’s something to brag about.”

While the team did not place high enough to earn scholarship money, they were honored with an award for their rocket’s design.

“Although they did not capture one of the scholarship prizes, their final score ranked them in the top third of all finalists at the event and they did win the Best Rocket Craftsmanship prize presented by the judges at the final award ceremonies,” Stewart said.

He said the award recognizes the careful design and good building techniques the students used in creating the rocket.

Stewart also said he was proud of the team for its efforts and was glad the students were able to experience the competition.

“They all received breakfast and were able to meet with some real good people, including some who are formerly from NASA,” he said. “I was glad that all eight students went, and their families were right there with them.”

Stewart said he hopes the team can improve upon its 2012 scores and earn a spot in the finals that will provide scholarship earnings in 2013.

“We should still have enough people and expertise to hopefully go back again next year,” he said. email: kdepriest@beenews.com

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