Charlotte students shoot for the sky at rocketry competition
Before the competition, students spent the year building and test-flying rockets.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Students from Victory Christian Center School in Charlotte competed in the national finals of the American Rocketry Challenge in Plains, Va., over the weekend.
Hundreds of teams from across the county tried out, and three Victory Christian teams were among the top 100.
According to the school, the all-girls high school team finished 18th place out of 798 teams from over 45 states. By placing in the Top 25 they will participate in the NASA-sponsored Student Launch Initiative Competition, which will see the students enter a nine-month scientific investigation involving designing, building and launching a larger high-power rocket.
The school’s second high school team finished in 69th place, while the middle school team finished in 76th place.
“You know that expression, ‘It’s not rocket science?’ It is rocket science, and I have middle schoolers and high schoolers who are doing it,” rocketry coach Jonathan Chisholm said ahead of the competition.
Before the competition, students spent the year building and test-flying rockets. Then on competition day, they were assigned an altitude of 825 or 875 feet.
The rocket had to reach the designated height, separate into two pieces revealing a hen egg representing an astronaut and finally land without breaking.
“They only have one shot. So, they did all of this preparation just to fly only once. And that’s where the excitement comes in,” coach Kimberly Williams said.
Students said the learning reaches far beyond physics and rocketry.
“Teamwork is a big part of rocketry,” senior Kayman Forte said. “You can’t really build a rocket by yourself. It takes all of us. It takes the team, it takes the coaches, it takes time, it takes effort. It’s not something that can be done in a week.”
During finals, the seventh through 12th graders competed against college and graduate students. Their coaches said they hope that shows them the sky is the limit.
“You can go to top notch schools. You can participate in engineering programs. As you probably noticed, our team is predominantly all people of color. Where there is disparity in some of those fields, we’re cracking out people who are going into those fields - science, technology, engineering, mathematics,” Chisholm said.
Though it has been a lot of hard work, the teammates said they’ve had fun along the way.
“We’re excited. This is my first time, so I don’t really know, but I’ve learned along the way how to get there, how to build this, how to fly, running out into the field to go get it,” sixth-grade student Vincent Cusack said. “It’s been a really fun experience.”
The winning team will represent the U.S. at the international competition in Paris and the top 25 teams will attend NASA’s launch program this summer.
Copyright 2023 WBTV. All rights reserved.