In a past Spotlight, I told you about the Deford Dazzlers 4-H Rocket Team, the Tuscola County 4-H’ers who scored well enough in the Team America Rocketry Challenge to take part in the national finals May 11-12 in Virginia.
I’m pleased to report the team finished 10th in the national competition, earning a $2,000 grant to fund the 2012-13 rocket season.
The event wasn’t just about flying rockets. Before the competition, the team attended a congressional breakfast at the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C. across from the Capitol. They had the opportunity to present the rocket, showing and explaining a cross-section of the engine and payload section from a prototype to top executives from the Aerospace Industries Association, a sponsor of the contest; engineers from Lockheed Martin and Raytheon; congressional aides; journalists; and officials from the Department of Defense.
The team members got the chance to get to know the members of other teams who attended the breakfast and reception. Instead of seeing each other as competitors, team members shared tips for success with members of other teams.
Said Mark Hansen, volunteer team mentor, “It was nothing like that of a typical competition. There was a spirit of camaraderie and friendship that was very endearing.”
At the competition, the Dazzlers lived up to their name, dazzling the competition with their near perfect first flight, which now holds the field record for Best Score at national finals. This put them in the lead of the top 24 teams given a chance to fly again. Strong winds affected most everyone’s score the second time around as it did the Dazzlers.’ Still they ended up in 10th place.
Mark said, “I can’t emphasize enough how important this event has been in their lives. The entire process of engineering, working as a team and setting these lofty goals has helped them grow, mature, hone their academic skills, discover their talents and made them better human beings.”
The team’s 10th place win made them eligible to participate in the Student Launch Initiative, the NASA-sponsored program that challenges youth to design, build and launch a reusable rocket with a scientific or engineering payload to one mile above ground level.
Mark will attend a NASA advanced rocketry workshop in July in Huntsville, Ala. Upon his return, the team will begin the raw engineering and data gathering to design their rocket.