Fairfax teens to send sky rockets in flight

Aspiring teenage rocketeers from 14 Fairfax County schools will take part in qualifying rounds this month for the Team America Rocketry Challenge.

Thirty Fairfax teams, including an all-girls group from Longfellow Middle School, will compete for a spot in the national finals to be held in May at Great Meadow in the Plains, Va. The contest is sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association to promote science, technology, engineering and math among the nation’s youth.

The teenage rocket scientists must design and construct a model rocket that can soar to a height of 825 feet and return to earth in less than 50 seconds. The rocket must also deploy a dual-parachute system while in the air to ensure that the vessel and its precious payload — two uncooked chicken eggs — land gently on the ground. If either egg is cracked, the launch will be disqualified.

The qualifying ends March 31 for the national competition, which attracts 5,000 students each year. More than 700 teams from 48 states will take part in the qualifying rounds for one of 100 spots in the finals on May 10. Winners will earn $60,000 in scholarships and prizes and receive entry to an international competition to be held this summer in England.

Last year, two teams from Fairfax County’s elite Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology qualified for the national finals, with Team 4 placing second.

T. Rees Shapiro is an education reporter.
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