Archive for Thursday, January 26, 2006

Up, Up and finding a way

EHS Aerospace Alliance blasts off on its way to compete in national rocket contest

January 26, 2006

When Eudora High School junior Mason McCurdy first gathered his friends and other interested students to take part in a national rocketry contest, he knew the challenges ahead of him.

From design to testing to fund-raising, many things needed to fall into place for the group's rocket to one day hit the sky.

Among the hurdles -- the group needed to find a name.

"Rocket club sounds nerdy, but it's not," team member Kyle Plaice said.

After jettisoning the rocket club moniker, the group settled on calling the group the Aerospace Alliance.

"It's more of a science thing, not more of a career thing," freshman JoAnna Male said.

Since late November, the alliance has been meeting up to three times a week in instructor Crystal Wood's classroom to research and design possible models.

Eventually, the group will demonstrate a final product for the judges of the Team America Rocketry Challenge.

"They're some of the brightest kids in the school," Wood said.

In order to meet the challenge, the alliance must design and build a rocket that will launch a raw egg. Once aloft, the rocket most reach an apex of 800 feet, fly for a total of 45 seconds and touch down softly enough to keep the raw egg intact.

Should the alliance members' design win the contest, they could earn a share of $60,000 in prizes.

The alliance, the only team participating from Douglas County, will have to go against the likes of Shawnee Mission East, who's entering 11 teams into the competition.

Although this is the first year most of the students have participated in the national contest, not all are new to rocketry.

McCurdy said he had worked with model rockets as part of his experience as a Boy Scout. Alliance member Whitney Box, has built rockets while participating in 4-H.

With the official test scheduled for Feb. 24 at Johnson County Community College, the team prepared to leave the conceptual stage for its first trial run.

As the first test date approached last Friday, the team hit a two-fold problem ---- the weather and an issue with a fin.

"It's classic problem solving," Wood said. "We come across something, and it's like we have to figure it out somehow."

The group arrived in the classroom after school, waited for members to arrive and created a list of goals for the session.

"It usually builds up to the last five minutes we have," McCurdy said. "That's when we get our work done."

In order to cover the most ground, alliance members divide certain responsibilities. One member focuses on working out parachute options for the egg, another researches engines, while yet another was working on perfecting the size of the rocket's fin.

The team members sort of grow into their own specialties, Male said.

"We've kind of grown together to be friends," Male said. "All of our personalities get along anyway, so that helps."

McCurdy said once the alliance launches the test rocket, the group plans to use the results to continually evolve the group's design.

"One thing is how to make the rocket stable," McCurdy said. "We need to find a happy medium."

pating from Douglas County, will have to go against the likes of Shawnee Mission East, who's entering 11 teams in the competition.

Although this is the first year most of the students have participated in the national contest, not all are new to rocketry.

McCurdy said he had worked with model rockets as part of his experience as a Boy Scout and alliance member Whitney Box has built rockets while participating in 4-H.

With the official test scheduled for Feb. 24 at Johnson County Community College, the team prepared to leave the conceptual stage for its first trial run.

As the first test date approached Friday, the team hit a two-fold problem ---- the weather and an issue with a fin.

"It's classic problem solving," Wood said. "We come across something, and it's like we have to figure it out somehow."

The group arrived in the classroom after school, waited for members to arrive and created a list of goals for the session.

"It usually builds up to the last five minutes we have," McCurdy said. "That's when we get our work done."

In order to cover the most ground, alliance members divide certain responsibilities. One member focused on working out parachute options for the egg, another researched engines, while yet another worked on perfecting the size of the rocket's fin.

The team members sort of grow into their own specialties, Male said.

"We've kind of grown together to be friends," Male said. "All of our personalities get along anyway, so that helps."

McCurdy said once the alliance launches the test rocket, the group plans to use the results to continually evolve the group's design.

"One thing is how to make the rocket stable," McCurdy said. "We need to find a happy medium."

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