It's all rocket science for Burrell students in competition
By Liz Hayes
Published: Friday, May 3, 2013, 1:56 a.m.
Burrell High School students will aim high May 11 at the 2013 Team America Rocketry Challenge.
They'll aim for 750 feet, to be exact.
That's the height their model rocket must reach in the national competition. The six-member Burrell team is one of 100 qualified to participate.
Team mentor Rod Schafer said this is the second year in a row his high school team has reached the national finals, which will take place at the Great Meadow equestrian facility in The Plains, Va., about 50 miles west of Washington, D.C.
Last year's Burrell team placed 29th out of 100.
This year the Burrell team — senior Matt Schultz and his brother, Michael, a freshman; junior Mark Makowski; sophomore Ryan Koscianski; and freshmen Trevor Newell and Kurt Ludwig — bested more than 600 teams around the country to earn a spot in the finals.
“These are truly exceptional kids who are sure to bring the next generation to new heights through their creativity and innovation,” said Schafer, who also mentors a rocketry team at Huston Middle School, where he works as a custodian.
“It goes with the district's STEM initiative,” Schafer said, referring to the push to develop advanced science, technology, engineering and math skills. “The whole idea of the Team America program is to encourage them to consider careers in engineering, aerospace, technology.”
In addition to reaching 750 feet, the team is trying to keep the rocket in the air for 48 to 50 seconds.
They are penalized for every foot under or above 750 and every second longer or shorter. Their rocket also must meet weight and other size requirements.
A 15-inch parachute gently returns the rocket to earth — including its payload of a raw egg cushioned by foam.
Schafer said the hardest part of competition usually isn't keeping the egg intact. Meeting the height and flight-time guidelines often requires the most tweaking.
“There's a lot of science involved that they have to think of,” Schafer said.
The students must also compensate for weather and wind; usually only the threat of thunderstorms will postpone competition, although passing airplanes can cause brief holdups.
The group met after school Thursday atop a hill on a Lower Burrell farm to continue fine-tuning their blue rocket with its tubular fins.
Although it was sunny, gusting winds were playing havoc with their landings.
Schafer said they've landed a few rockets in surrounding trees over the years — a painful loss considering a $40 altimeter is lodged inside each rocket's frame.
After a first flight reached a height of 788 feet and 44 seconds, the team added weight. The second flight hit 714 feet and lasted about 34 seconds.
“I like the challenge,” said Michael Schultz.
Members of the high school team said they became interested in rocketry when Schafer introduced it to them in sixth grade. He has sponsored teams in the rocketry challenge since 2004.
“It's just really cool. I don't know how else to say it,” Makowski said. “I mean, we're playing with rockets.”
Liz Hayes is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4680 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 1 remains in hospital after knife fight in New Kensington apartment
- New Kensington police find stolen handgun, detain 2 juveniles
- Tax law proves its worth by bringing in lost revenue
- Instagram builds Oakmont barber’s rep for innovative cuts, ‘hair tattooing’
- Battle of Fort Hand 235th anniversary to open window into frontier life
- Winfield Road bridge replacement to begin in 2015
- ‘Cross on the Hill’ a special sight for residents
- Renter tries to battle New Kensington house fire
- Stork has arrived at Harmar eagle nest
- New Kensington-Arnold lays groundwork for school consolidation
- Alle-Kiski Valley economic development group honored for police training