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Five W.Va. Teams Land Spots in the Finals Of The American Rocketry Challenge Competition

The American Rocketry Challenge
Student teams from around the nation compete in The American Rocketry Challenge.

Five student teams from three Marion County schools will be participating in this year’s national finals of The American Rocketry Challenge, a nationwide event featuring 100 finalists and set for June 11-20.

Among the competitors included in this year’s crop of finalists are two teams from North Marion High School, two teams from East Fairmont Middle School, and one team from East Fairmont STEM. To win, they will build and launch a model rocket from three different altitudes, all while keeping a raw egg stored within the rocket safe from harm. The reward, including the honor of becoming this year’s national champion, is a $100,000 cash prize.

Leading the way for some of the students is Chris Tennant, a science teacher at North Marion High School and sponsor to the two North Marion teams for nearly 10 years. He guesses this is the school’s fourth or fifth time competing in the national finals, and has seen many students come and go.

“You have different kids with different abilities,” said Tennant. “You’ve got some kids who are really grown in their skills to build rockets and make them flight-worthy, from smoothing out the wings, compared to what they did as freshmen, with dabs of glue everywhere, and now they’re smoothing it out and making it look like fine auto-body work.”

The North Marion teams are a source of pride for Tennant, who thinks The American Rocketry Challenge is a great way to get students involved in the fields of aviation and rocketry.

“It’s a combination of a lot of hard work… For North Marion it means I get more kids interested in doing this. They wanna join in and build rockets, too.” Tennant said. “Frankly, it opens their eyes wide open to a lot of things we just can’t present at the high school, at a local level, you know what I mean? We can get them involved with people at the national level.”

Despite directly competing with other teams from Marion County, Tennant has a positive relationship with other groups encouraging interest in rocketry at such a high level.

“There’s more cooperation than competition. We’re trying to work together toward a common goal rather than see who’s best. I’d love to see them win, and I’d of course love to see our guys win,” said Tennant.

Eastern Panhandle Reporter, ssnyder@wvpublic.org, 304-449-4653

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