Two teams from one high school in Bellevue, Wash., are flying high after a rocket-launching competition on the other side of the country last weekend.
Newport High School (Team 2) won the national championship at the 2022 American Rocketry Challenge, the largest student rocketry competition in the world.
The team of 10 students bested 99 other teams competing in the national finals in The Plains, Va. They won the right to represent the United States at the International Rocketry Challenge at the Farnborough Airshow outside London in July. The team also took home a $20,000 grand prize.
Newport Rocketry’s Team 1 also made a strong showing, finishing in second place and winning $15,000. The two teams were among 724 teams from 41 states that competed in this year’s challenge.
“We’re excited to bring this type of focus to Bellevue and what our students can accomplish,” Jeremy Brown, a teacher advisor to the rocketry teams, told GeekWire. “This journey has been a wonderful learning experience for the students and reflects their dedication and love of science, and it’s been our privilege to help these students achieve their dreams.”
Team 2 members include: Samuel Chen, Arthur Gwozdz, Rita Liu, Rose Liu, Brandon Luo, Ethan Luo, Kavin Manivasagam, Vanu Rao, Shreyas Subramanian, and Minghan Sun.
Team 1 members include: Zijun He, Evelyn Radabaugh, Ethan Tampa, Justin Kim, Jason McCabe and Tyler Yan.
Newport High School has been competing in the American Rocketry Challenge since 2014. The school’s teams meet as a club after school every week for four hours and on weekends for another four to build, test and launch their rockets.
The American Rocketry Challenge, in its 20th year, is the aerospace and defense industry’s flagship program to encourage students to pursue education and careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). It gives students the chance to design, build and launch model rockets, and the contest attracts hundreds of teams and thousands of students annually.
To qualify for the finals, teams were required to build and launch a rocket that safely carries a payload of two raw eggs with a target flight duration of 41-44 seconds and altitude of 835 feet. At the finals, competing teams had to launch the rockets to 810 feet with a flight duration of 40-43 seconds in the first round of competition. The top 42 teams conducted a second launch that was required to reach 860 feet with a flight duration of 42-45 seconds.
Brown said Team 2 utilized a modular design that allowed them to swap out damaged parts and make quick engineering updates to improve their rocket. Practice flights — more than 40 launches over eight months — allowed the students to better engineer consistency into their rocket and launch and enabled the team to achieve extremely consistent results at the finals, according to Brown.
“At the finals, we encountered a little bit of rain during the second launch,” Brown said. “Living in Bellevue/PNW, the team was familiar with launching in a wet climate, and knew to shield their motor and fuse from the weather prior to launch. We saw several DQs (disqualified) due to wet motor/fuses during the second launch.”
The national finals featured teams representing 27 states, competing for a total of $100,000 in prize money and scholarships. That prize pool was split among the top 10 teams, which included a team from Camas High School in Camas, Wash., in seventh place.
Other Seattle area and Washington state teams taking part included: Bellevue Senior High School (Team 2) finished 50th; Interlake High School (Team 2) of Bellevue finished 62nd; Cascade Middle School of Auburn, Wash., finished 64th; Interlake High School (Team 2) of Bellevue finished 71st; Annie Wright Schools of Tacoma, Wash., finished 72nd; Bellevue Senior High School (Team 1) finished 76th; and Jane Addams Middle School of Seattle was 91st.
The top 25 finishers receive an invitation to participate in NASA’s Student Launch initiative to continue their exploration of rocketry with high-powered rockets and challenging mission parameters.
“We’re super proud of the growing number of Washington state teams that made it to the top 100, and of all the students that chose to spend their weekends learning to be ‘rocket scientists,’” Brown said. “The camaraderie and energy at nationals was amazing no matter the results. In the end, so long as the students keep pursuing their dreams, we’re all winners.”