Saturday, April 21st, 2018

Minster rocket teams launch bid for national championship

By Ed Gebert

Minster Rocket Club members discuss calculations for a launch. Three teams from. . .

MINSTER - Fifteen Minster Rocket Club members have earned a trip to compete in a national championship.
This is the first time three Minster teams have qualified for the Team America Rocketry Challenge, according to team mentor/adviser Ted Oldiges. The club began in 2009 and has qualified at least one team in each of the past seven years for the fly-off.
"My idea behind the rocket club was to get kids a little more STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education," Oldiges said. "It was something I wanted to get the kids introduced to, and rocketry and engineering was something that was exciting to me."
"That's what we started the whole thing with," he continued. "And it's been strong ever since."
The event will be held May 12 in a field near Manassas, Virginia. Members will compete for more than $100,000 in prizes and scholarships. The national winner will move on to the International Rocketry Contest in the United Kingdom.
This year, 800 teams representing 46 states and the District of Columbia designed and built model rockets with the hope of qualifying for the national finals.
The Minster Rocket Club is available for district students in grades 7-12. Through rocketry, the students learn science, technology, engineering and math skills and engineering practices.
"We do some concept things. We do some engineering, get into the whole computer-aided design system," Oldiges said. "They have to design and build their whole rocket online first. Then they have to build everything in a CAD system to see how the parts are going to work. They have to develop and build the parts. Then we fly it in a simulator to see how it's going to work."
Once the rockets are built, they are flown in a simulator and eventually out in the field to see the projects in action.
"Watching these bigger rockets launch, the kids get a big kick out of it," Oldiges said, adding students learn a lot about how engineering works and how it often fails.
"Last year, every launch that we did went perfectly. I told the kids, 'I have never had a year where every launch has gone this well. This doesn't happen in rocketry,' " he said. "Well this year, we've had everything go wrong possible. Rockets that blow up on the stand, rockets that shoot up 10 feet, then catch on fire. We had a rocket that went up 800 feet, then did a lawn dart into the ground. They had to get a shovel to dig it out. They like that stuff, too. They like the action of this stuff."
Oldiges noted that rocketry students also must learn about the environmental factors that affect the rocket's flight. At the finals, the students' creations must launch a rocket with two raw eggs inside to 800 feet before coming back down to earth - without cracking the eggs - in a flight that must last between 41 and 43 seconds.
"At the finals we're doing the exact same thing we've been doing around here, but we only get one shot, no practice to try to redo everything we just did. We've probably done in the neighborhood of 100 launches, and we take all that data over there and we use that data to set up the rocket for the competition," Oldiges explained.
Oldiges said the adventure in rocketry usually begins just after Minster's annual Oktoberfest and teaches students the engineering process. Lessons include determining what fails and what succeeds; collaborating and working as a team; developing things; analyzing failure; and adjusting for atmospherics such as barometric pressure, humidity and wind speed.
Oldiges said the members enjoy more than just making successful rockets.
"They like the camaraderie part and working together the most, I think. We try to have a lot of fun when we do this."
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