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Fairmont STEM Teams Qualify For Nationwide Rocketry Contest

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Barbara Pill
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East Fairmont Middle School Students Maddy Armentrout and Savannah Corder at their rocket launch site.

Two teams from East Fairmont Middle School are sending students to the final round of a nationwide rocketry competition.

The students will be competing to win The American Rocketry Challenge and a $100,000 cash prize next month. They will be among 101 teams from 27 states and are the only two qualifiers from West Virginia. A third team, nearby rocketry club East Fairmont STEM, also earned a spot as an alternate.

To qualify, the teams designed a model rocket that kept two raw eggs safe as it launched over 800 feet in the air. Barring when the event was canceled in 2020 due to COVID-19, the school has had students attend each year for the past five years.

Science teacher and team sponsor Barbara Pill says they have stayed successful because of the tools and software they are able to use.

“We use simulation software to tell us how the rocket is going to fly before we ever cut tubes to build it,” Pill said. “The students design it, I have them sketch out what they would like and go over the sketches, give them suggestions about, ‘Well, this may work, this may not work.’”

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Shepherd Snyder
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West Virginia Public Broadcasting
Members of the STEM clubs at East Fairmont Middle School that qualified for the American Rocketry Challenge.

The significance of being selected for the event is not lost on the students. Many of them, including seventh-grader and club member LJ Diaz, are excited to meet other students from across the nation with the same interests.

“It's a once in a lifetime opportunity to go to nationals. And being with the STEM club is really fun,” Diaz said. “You get to see all these people that are probably smarter than me do the same thing.”

Pill’s students will be participating at an event May 14 in The Plains, Virginia to decide the top 25 teams. Those teams will be invited to submit a proposal to compete in the NASA Student Launch initiative.

Eastern Panhandle Reporter, ssnyder@wvpublic.org, 304-433-4288

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