Team America Rocketry Challenge Blasts off!

May 5, 2013

Team Members with their Rocket

Congratulations are in order for the Science Club for Girls’ Rocket Team, the Teckorettes, one of three New England teams to qualify for the Team America Rocketry Challenge Grand Finals (TARC) on May 11th in Virginia!

Team Members with their Rocket
Team Members with their Rocket

The 7-member team includes young women in grades 8 to 12 from four Boston-area towns, five high schools, and a range of cultural backgrounds. Mentored by aerospace engineers from the Cambridge Research and Development Center of Aurora Flight Sciences, a leader in the development and manufacturing of advanced unmanned systems and aerospace vehicles, the team was organized by Science Club for Girls. Microsoft is a proud supporter of  Science Club for Girls as they host their weekly sessions at NERD.  SCFG also benefits from the proceeds of our Women’s Leadership Forum in the fall.

The girls and their mentors have met after school on Tuesdays since last October to work on the rocket. Starting with a rocket-building kit purchased online, the girls developed basic rocketry and physics knowledge. After mastering these skills, the girls created their own rocket designs usingRockSim, a computer simulation software.

Team Members with their Rocket
Preparing to Launch the Rocket

After the design phase, the girls built their rocket – 2.5 feet tall, made out of balsa wood, cardboard, and plastic. Starting in January they began to test it almost every Saturday, perfecting their design through adjusting the weight and sanding certain parts to reduce friction. In the field-testing phase, the girls developed their problem-solving skills, not the least of which was trudging through the cold and snow to retrieve their rocket!

The team was notified on March 29th that they had qualified for the national finals, a feat achieved by only the top 100 of the 725 national teams. In addition, the Teckorettes were one of only 9 all-girls teams to make it to the finals.

Assembling the Rocket
Testing the Rocket

Lisa Johnson, one of the mentors from Aurora Flight Sciences was thrilled: “It’s fantastic that our team made it to Nationals this year.  All the girls have been working really hard to hit the goals set by TARC, which are a lot more challenging than last year’s!  It’s been a delight mentoring them . . . they’re going to go far in their chosen STEM fields.”

Alyssa Wang, a 9th grade student at Prospect Hill Academy in Somerville noted, “we are a group of seven young women from different schools, grades, and cultural backgrounds. As a team, we stand out in that we are all females, competing in a field that has largely been reserved for males, due to long-standing social norms. This Rocket Team means a lot to all of us; it is the reason we know each other and have come so far.”

The girls are absolutely thrilled to be travelling to the May 11 competition in Virginia! At the competition, they will have the opportunity to earn scholarships or the grand prize: a chance to compete in Paris at the international rocket competition. But don’t take our word for it; check out this video that the girls made to ask for support.

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