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West Virginia Student Team Qualifies to Compete in National Rocket Challenge

May 11, 2012

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Four West Virginia students from Gilmer County High School will travel to Washington, D.C. on May 12 to compete in the world’s largest rocket contest known as Team American Rocketry Challenge (TARC) for $60,000 in prizes and scholarships.

The team, consisting of Ashley Bush, Larisa Gordon, Lindsey Gregory and Mitchell Hickman, beat out 678 other student teams across the country to be qualified as one of the top 100 teams for the final fly-off. 

The national competition challenges middle and high school students nationwide to design and build a rocket that will climb to 800 feet and stay airborne between 43 and 47 seconds using a parachute for a recovery device.  Teams have up to three qualifying launches to try and get a perfect score of zero. If a launch goes outside the qualifying parameters, points are added.  The rocket also must transport a payload of two raw eggs and return them to the ground unbroken.  This year the cut off score to qualify for the national finals was a record setting low at 13.2, and the GCHS team qualified with a 6.07. 

“TARC has been great for my students,” said Adam Osborne, chemistry and physics teacher at GCHS. “This type of project based learning along with its direct application to industry has increased student performance and interest in the sciences.  It’s great to see their hard work and effort rewarded by qualifying for Nationals.”

About 6,000 students from across the country took part in the contest in this, its tenth year. Since TARC’s first contest in 2003, over 50,000 students have participated in the challenge. The Aerospace Industries Association sponsors the contest with the National Association of Rocketry, NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, the American Association of Physics Teachers and AIA member companies.

"TARC is a great way for students to get real aerospace engineering experience, and it’s also a lot of fun," said Marion Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association. "We are delighted Gilmer County High School has joined this important effort.”

For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education Communication Office at 304-558-2699.  

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