AUSTIN (KXAN) — High school students from Harmony School of Endeavor need your help to compete in the American Rocketry Challenge.
Two teams from the school were chosen to participate in the national competition. They’re heading to Washington, D.C. later this week and need help raising funds to pay for hotels, food and tours of our nation’s capital.
You can donate to the teen’s trip on their GoFundMe page.
Students launching rockets
Twenty high school students participate in Harmony School of Endeavor’s rocketry club. Michael Dong, a senior who joined the club his freshman year, now leads one of the teams.
“This is something new, something that we never really done before. And so we thought that we should just give it a shot and see how it went,” Dong said. His team went to the finals in 2019.
The students use 3D printers, a laser printer and rocketry software to design the rockets from scratch. They began designing the rockets in October, meeting once during the week.
On the weekends, they would travel to the hill country. There they would launch their rockets alongside other rocketry enthusiasts.
Engineering teacher Travis Powell oversees the program. He said the teams are ran by the students.
“I’m just kind of making sure that everybody’s doing something. I’m kind of the bad guy, so that they don’t have to be to their friends.”
What is the American Rocketry Challenge
101 teams from 26 states are competing in the challenge this Saturday. Each team will launch a rocket that must weigh no more than 650 grams to a height of 835 feet. The rocket must then descend safely to the ground. Two eggs on board the rocket must remain undamaged.
Teams will be judged on the how close the rocket gets to its target height and the length of the flight.
Dong said a coin flip will determine the exact height their rocket needs to reach. They will use weights inside the rocket to adjust the height.
An altimeter, housed in a 3D printed holder, will measure the rocket’s height. A tiny piece of tape secures the device and the team’s chances of winning.
Because of the strict weight restrictions, the rocket is made out of cardboard. A plastic cone on the top of the rocket helps secure the parachute needed to control the rocket’s descent.
Fins, cut using the school’s laser printer, are made out of balsa wood. Senior Damian Alonso said the balsa wood is stronger than cardboard and less likely to break upon landing.
If the rocket breaks, the team loses.
The winning team will get to represent the U.S. at the International Rocketry Challenge in London later this year. They will also receive up to $20,000 in scholarship money. Finalists will also receive scholarship money, and the top 25 teams will get to participate in a NASA rocketry workshop.