February 1, 2013
AOPA AV8RS Staff
There’s nothing like dreaming high, reaching for the stars …. even blasting off.
More than 50 student teams, from middle school through college, will do just that as they take part in NASA’s 2012-13 rocketry challenge. The challenge has the teams, which represent schools in 26 states around the country, designing and building a large, high-powered rocket, complete with a working science or engineering payload and capable of flying to the target altitude of 1 mile. NASA created the challenge to encourage students to pursue careers in STEM, or science, technology, engineering or mathematics, fields.
"Every year, the NASA Student Launch Projects build on our students' classroom studies in an energizing, exciting way," said Tammy Rowan, of NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. "It's great fun, but it also reflects the real-world complexity of planning missions, building flight hardware and completing tough pre-flight checks and reviews. It tests their problem-solving skills and gives them practical, hands-on experience. We hope the experience is so unforgettable it leads many of them to become the nation's next generation of scientists, engineers and space explorers."
The middle and high school launches are non-competitive, but the 36 college teams are vying for a $5,000 first-place award provided by ATK Aerospace Group.
Besides designing and building the rockets, teams also must maintain detailed preliminary and post-launch reports, and build and regularly update a public website to document their rocket-building experience. Click to see some of the websites, such as Harper College or Vanderbilt Aerospace Club.
The teams will travel to Marshall, where their rockets will undergo a series of intensive reviews and safety inspections — a smaller-scale version of the rigorous processes applied to the nation's space vehicles. The culmination of their work is set for April 20, when the students launch their creations one by one into the skies over northern Alabama.
For a complete list of the teams, visit http://education.msfc.nasa.gov/sli.
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