TARC (Team America Rocketry Challenge) is the world's largest rocketry competition. Teams must design, simulate, build, and fly a rocket capable of carrying two raw eggs to 750 feet (no more, no less). The eggs must stay aloft, under a parachute, for precisely 45 seconds. About 700 high school teams compete each year, and the top 100 teams are invited to the finals in Washington DC.
My team (#6081) was invited this year. We are a first year team and we finished 13th out of 643 teams. Here' what happened:
We woke up bright and early on Saturday to prep the rocket. We put it on the launch pad and declared that it was ready to fly. The rocket zoomed up to 742 feet and stayed aloft for about 41.5 seconds (the goals are 750ft (no more, no less) and 45 seconds (again; no more, no less)). Both raw eggs survived the journey and we were awarded a score of 15.02 (the lower the better). We watched nervously as the other 99 teams launched their rockets. By around 1:30, nearly every team had launched and we were in 7th place! The top 18 teams are required to fly again (the average of the two scores is used to determine the rankings). As we were preparing the rocket, the Stealth B2 Bomber flew overhead - it was spectacular! With the B2 safely out of the way, launching resumed. Our rocket (because the winds suddenly died) flew higher than expected to an altitude of 783 feet and stayed aloft for 44 seconds, giving us a score of around 35. Unfortunately, this score demoted us to 13th place. After the initial disappointment, we were thrilled - our first-year rocketry team had beaten 643 other teams from around the country - we were in the top 2% of rocketry teams all over the United States of America!
In addition, because we were one of the top 18 teams, we were invited to attend the NASA Student Launch Initiative (SLI). SLI offers a stipend for a teacher to attend a week long program with NASA focusing on how to integrate hands-on aerospace projects into math and science classrooms. After completion of the program, student rocketry team members are invited to submit a proposal to NASA for a rocket designed to fly one mile high with a scientific payload. If approved by NASA engineers, NASA hires us to build - and fly - our proposed rocket. The entire team is thrilled to have this opportunity!
I thought many students who browse this forum might benefit from this post. TARC is an amazing opportunity, and with so many ingenious people on Instructables, the veteran teams will have to fight hard next year!