MINSTER – Four teams of students from Minster, Ohio, are among the 100 teams qualified to compete in the June 13 national finals of the 2021 American Rocketry Challenge.
Mentor Ted Oldiges said the American Rocketry Challenge is the world’s largest rocket contest with nearly 5,000 students nationwide competing each year. First launched in 2002, the Rocketry Challenge has inspired more than 80,000 middle and high school students to explore education and careers in STEM fields, he said. Oldiges said the contest gives students the opportunity to design, build and launch model rockets and hands-on experience solving engineering problems.
Two teams are sponsored by the Minster Civic Association and two teams are sponsored by Minster Journeyman.
The students include Alex Frimel, Caleb Kies, Jocelyn Kies, Lucas Stammen, Tristan McDaniel, Johnny Nixon, Hannah Oldiges, Owen Barhorst, Fletcher Luthman, Nathan Oldiges, Adam Kuether, Riley Arnold, Cedric Ranly, Eli Rindler, Will Frimel, Josh Kies and Austin Wellman.
The Minster Civic Association teams are being advised by mentor Sara Henderson, of Miamisburg. The Minster Journeyman teams are being advised by Ted Oldiges, of Minster. Oldiges has taken his teams to National competition quite often.
Oldiges explained the students will compete against other teams at the National Finals, taking place in mid-June at regional launch sites across the U.S. For the Minster students, that location will be on the grounds of Dayton’s National Air and Space Museum.
In addition to competing for the title of national champion, teams will be vying for $100,000 in prizes. The competition is returning in 2021 after a year hiatus due to COVID-19.
He said COVID also challenged the students to cope with more simulations that actual tests of the rockets. He added, “Normally, all the finals are done at Manassas, Virginian, but the pandemic had fueled the decision to hold regional contests.” He said the change of venue brought about it’s own challenges, such as the usual warmer conditions in Virginia were not the same as here in Ohio or that atmospheric conditions are different at each regional contest site. Those other sites include Birmingham, Alabama, Lucerne Valley, California, Pueblo, Colorado, Palm Beach, Florida, Reno, Nevada, Syracuse, New York, Rockdale, Texas, The Plains, Virginia, Pasco, Washington and Brighton, Wisconsin.
This year the contest involves more than 5,000 students, and more than 600 teams submitting scores. Teams from 27 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands are represented among the finalists.
The rules of the contest change each year, according to Oldiges, so that each year students must come up with a new design, rather than participating with successful designs of the past. “This year’s rules require teams to design, build and launch a model rocket that carries one raw egg to three different altitude and time goals: 800 feet within 40 to 43 seconds for their qualifying flights, and then 775 feet within 39 to 42 seconds and 825 feet within 41 to 44 seconds at the National Finals- all with the rocket and egg returning to the ground intact,” he said.
According to a press release from the The American Rocketry Challenge organization, this is the flagship program of the Aerospace Industry Association, designed to encourage students to pursue, study and build careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).”
In addition to the impressive task of launching a rocket 800 feet into the air, teams competing in 2021 had to overcome new obstacles created by the pandemic. From Zoom practices, virtual launches and calculations, to new distancing protocols and procedures, the 2021 finalists are truly the cream of the crop of future engineers – and problem solvers,” the press release stated further.
More information can be found at https://rocketcontest.org/news/100-teams-advance-to-national-finals-in-worlds-largest-student-rocket-contest/ Supporters can follow and support their local team on the road to National Finals using the official hashtag: #TARC2021.
The writer is a regular contributor to the Sidney Daily News.