JAMESTOWN — Three Greeneview High School Students are hoping their model rocket will win them a share of $100,000 in cash and scholarships as they compete in the Team America Rocket Contest (TARC) national finals Saturday, May 12 in Virginia.
Alex Hackney, Detric Hovan and Mason Kibble qualified for the national competition beating out more than 700 other teams from all 50 states to claim an invitation to the finals. To qualify for a spot, the contest required the team to design and build a model rocket and fly it to exactly 800 feet, stay aloft from between 41 and 43 seconds and to return the payload of two raw hens eggs safely back to earth without any damage.
Points are added for each foot of error from 800 feet and four points for every second (and hundredths) of flight time more than 43 or less than 41. A cracked egg or improper recovery is an immediate disqualification for that flight. The team submitted three qualification flights to TARC and a two-best flights combined score of 18.6 with the cutoff being just more than 36 points (the lower the score the better). The national competition is tougher as there are no practice flights allowed that day. All 100 finalist teams will fly in round one to 800 feet and 41-43 seconds.
The top 24 teams from round one will have a second flight to either 775 or 825 feet (decided by coin toss). The 10 teams with the best two-flight combined scores (lowest) will split the purse. Should there be a tie for first place a third flight will determine the overall winner. But getting to the competition may be as big a challenge as getting in as one of the top 10 final teams.
The three students hope to earn enough money to attend the competition with at least one parent each in attendance, and to participate in the day before “Rockets on the Hill,” where the students are invited to a special breakfast on Capitol Hill to discuss STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education and to later meet with their representatives in person. Between now and May 10 they will need to build backup rockets and continue test flights to meet the additional requirements of the national competition. Backup rockets are needed in case of catastrophic failure of a motor, loss of the rocket due to flying into power lines or other hazards.
It took 16 flights to complete the qualification round, and they hope to have eight more test flights to dial in performance to 775 and 825 feet before the national competition where two and possibly four official flights will be required to take top honors.
Each flight costs $20 for the F42 rocket motor used to launch the rocket. The competition sponsor AIA has arranged discounted hotel rates but getting this team to finals, accommodations for the team, and other expenses will run approximately $2,000. The team has already begun earning money (washing private airplanes for example) and has setup a “GoFundMe” account to make it easy for family, friends and supporters to donate easily at www.gofundme.com/greenview-high-school-afterburners website. The winner of the national competition will be invited to attend the world finals in Europe this summer.