Monday, July 07, 2003

Team America Rocketry Challenge

What is it? See the link on the right side of the page (under "I'm involved") for the official word. To me, the TARC is proof positive that kids will rise up to expectations. No dumbing down for this effort, no way.

Imagine telling a team of high school students that they have to plan, design, build and fly a rocket. Pretty cool, eh? But this is supposed to be a challenge, and you can buy kits in Wal-Mart to do that much. So let's make it a requirement that the rocket has to fly as close as possible to 1500 feet. Since altitude measurement is a requirement, the team has to plan on using an electronic altimeter.

But this needs to be tougher, so the rocket has to have two stages. In other words, the first motor has to stop burning before the second motor fires. If you've seen pictures of the old Saturn V moon shots, this is how it worked. Three stages, each one dropping off as it was done.

Ok, let's see... originial design with two stages going as close as possible to 1500 feet, measured by an on-board altimeter. Pretty good, but we need the proverbial 'cherry on top'. How about...

The payload is two fresh hens eggs, to be brought back to earth unbroken?!?!

Now that is a challenge!

The organizers expected a couple hundred teams to enter, and planned for twice that. Instead, almost 900 teams of students signed up.

- more coming -