The finals of the world’s largest student rocket competition will begin this weekend with 100 teams competing to become national champions, with six of the teams from the Seattle area.
The challenge of American rocketry is the aerospace and defense industry’s flagship program to encourage students to pursue studies and careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). It gives students the opportunity to design, build, and launch model rockets, and the contest attracts more than 5,000 students and 600 teams annually.
The 2020 event was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, teams from 27 states and the US Virgin Islands will compete in the final. Those teams include:
- Two teams from Interlake High School in Bellevue, Wash.
- WISE Camps in Bellevue
- Ingraham High School in Seattle
- Mercer Island China Association
- Emerald City Rocketry in Bellevue
The rules require teams to build boats that can carry a raw egg to three different altitude and time goals: 800 feet within 40 to 43 seconds for their qualifying flights; 775 feet in 39 to 42 seconds; and 825 feet in 41 to 44 seconds. The rocket and egg must return to the ground intact.
Beyond the challenge of launching a rocket, the pandemic created obstacles of its own with Zoom practices, virtual launches and calculations, and new distancing protocols and procedures.
“In a year filled with extraordinary challenges, teamwork and determination propelled these talented rockets to qualify for the National Finals,” said Eric Fanning, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association. The group is an event sponsor.
The finals will take place at 11 launch sites across the country, including one in Pasco, Washington. Competition dates are June 12-13 and June 19-20. A virtual awards ceremony will be held on June 28. Prices include $ 20,000 for the first team.
2019 coverage: 6 Seattle-area student teams competing in the Team America Rocketry Challenge national finals