Rocketry championship goes to Alabama, but lifts kids across the US

The RCS Engineers Rocketry team will take the 2015 US championships home to Russellville, Alabama, but only for a month. In June they travel to Paris where they will compete against French, British, and Japanese national teams at the Paris Air Show. Credit: Team America Rocketry Challenge

The RCS Engineers Rocketry team will take the 2015 US championships home to Russellville, Alabama, but only for a month. In June they travel to Paris where they will compete against French, British, and Japanese national teams at the Paris Air Show. Credit: Team America Rocketry Challenge

The Team America Rocketry Challenge released the final results of the national student rocketry competition. Held every year to encourage students to pursue science and math careers, the contest attracts teens across the United States, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands.

First place went to the seven-member team from Alabama’s Russelville City School. The students will share $20,000 in scholarships. Even more importantly, they will represent the United States in an international competition. Aerospace giant Raytheon is giving them an expenses-paid trip to France where they will compete with British, French, and Japanese rocket teams at the Paris Air Show.

Students watching student rockets... but not too close. Credit: Team America Rocketry Challenge

Students watching student rockets... but not too close. Credit: Team America Rocketry Challenge

The US aerospace industry sponsors the Team America Rocketry Challenge, the nation’s largest STEM outreach program. The students must apply physics and math to design their rocket and meet the contest’s performance targets. Over the course of the school year thousands of middle and high school students around the United States, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands designed and built their model rockets. A series of qualifying rounds narrowed the field to 100 teams

This year’s finalists had to launch their rockets 800 feet and parachute it back within 46-48 seconds. The catch? A raw egg rides in the rocket and must survive the trip. Achieving that got 42 teams into the final round where they had to fly to 775 feet and back within 45-47 seconds. That slight change forced the students to tweak their rockets on the fly and demonstrate they had a good grasp of the principles of rocket science.

A further $70,000 in scholarships were awarded to the remaining teams in the top 10. Each team’s sponsoring school or youth organization receives $1000 to support science education. Here's a recap of the hometown media coverage the top 10 teams received [with my commentary]:

  1. Russellville City School (Russellville, AL) - Made in Alabama, Times Daily, Franklin Free Press
  2. Newport High School (Bellview, WA) - Bellevue Reporter 
    • [CC: These come back kids were disqualified last year after their rocket fell apart]
  3. Ingraham High School (Seattle, WA) - Seattle Times 
    • [CC: This team wins best motto: "No deaths since 2006"]
  4. St Vincent St Mary High School (Akron, OH) - Akron Dotcom, Ohio Dotcom
  5. First Baptist Church of Manchester Youth Group (Manchester, CT) - Journal Inquirer
    • [CC: This team wins in perserverance: they had to practice in snowshoes]
  6. Northview High School (Sylvania, OH) - Toledo Blade 
  7. Madison West High School (Madison, WI)
  8. Spring Grove Area High School (Spring Grove, PA)
  9. Redwood High School (Larkspur, CA) - Twin City Times
  10. Krueger School of Applied Technologies (San Antonio, TX)
The Team America Rocketry Challenge has inspired more than 60,000 students to pursue science and math related careers. Credit: Team America Rocketry Challenge

The Team America Rocketry Challenge has inspired more than 60,000 students to pursue science and math related careers. Credit: Team America Rocketry Challenge