By Lia Tian

There is no better place to use the saying “The sky is the limit,” than in the area of rocket science. On May 10, 2014, one hundred and one teams of eager armature rocketeers gathered in Washington DC for the 12th annual Team America Rocketry Challenge national fly-offs. Each year, teams from around the country, and sometimes around the world, compete to design and build a rocket that can most consistently and accurately Rocketmeet a set of goals. This year, teams built rockets that had to reach or come close to 825 feet, have a flight duration of 48-50 seconds, and use two parachutes to safely recover two raw eggs. Teams from 25 states and the Virgin Islands qualified for the 2014 national finals.

This year, Avid Academy had two teams sponsored by the nonprofit Math for Service participate for the first time. Both teams successfully qualified for the national finals. In addition to the flight goals of the challenge, both teams faced other difficulties. Because both teams were from southern California, the differences weather such as humidity and wind speed presented obstacles to a successful flight. In fact, the weather was not only humid and windy. At one point, all the officials and participants had to evacuate the field and take cover in their cars due to a thunderstorm! Overall, the middle school team rose up to the challenge, placing 38th overall and advancing to the 2nd round.

In addition to the model rocket competition, teams also had many other opportunities. For example, they could participate in rocket building competitions and presentation competitions. Also, students had the chance to meet with their local senators or house representatives at a reception in the Senate Building on Friday. Team America Rocketry Challenge was certainly a unique and inspiring experience. Besides learning how to build model rockets and developing team-building skills, TARC allowed us to experience real life applications of math and science, and have a glimpse into the career of an aerospace engineer. TARC has certainly succeeded in its goals to inspire the next generation of young scientists to pursue aerospace and rocket science, setting the stage for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs and leaders.