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Eggs in the
By Patrick L.
The sky will be
filled with flying eggs on May 10, 2003, when a thousand students
converge on The Plains, Virginia, for the first-ever national high
school rocketry competition.
Called the Team America Rocketry Challenge
(http://www.rocketcontest.org), the competition sets the goal
of flying a custom-built, two-stage rocket carrying two raw eggs to a
height of exactly 1,500 feet, and then returning the eggs to the
ground unbroken. The team that comes closest to 1,500 feet without
breaking their eggs will win the national title.
The competition is being organized by the Aerospace Industries
Association and the National Association of Rocketry (NAR). NASA
administrator Sean O'Keefe will attend the final event.
"The idea is to get kids interested in the world of aerospace,"
says Trip Barber, director of the competition and vice-president of
the NAR. "And they will learn some important lessons about the
power of math and science-and cooperation and teamwork-along the
To develop their designs, the students first used computer simulator
software provided by NAR. Then they had to apply old-fashioned
ingenuity and craftsmanship to bring the design to life and flight
testing to refine it.
Students constructed rocket bodies using a combination of hobby-store
rocket kit parts and custom materials. A typical rocket might consist
of cardboard tubes from paper-towel or wrapping-paper rolls, a
pre-made nose cone, rocket-kit body segments cut to size, and
light-weight, balsa wood fins. But the greatest challenge for many was
designing the compartment for the eggs.
Some used plastic Easter eggs as casings, padding the inside with
bubble wrap, foam peanuts, or even gelatin. Others decided not to
"reinvent the wheel," making a cradle from the egg-crate
material used for shipping eggs. Some chose to make larger, more
powerful rockets big enough to carry the eggs inside, while others
made smaller, more efficient rockets that have a bulging egg
compartment mounted on top.
A hundred unique designs will be put to the test in Virginia.
Only one will win. But for the students, the real prize has already
been won: Learning an approach to problem-solving that works, whether
you're launching eggs over a field or sending astronauts to Mars.
In the end, it's all about the future: Future technologies and the
kids who will grow up to create them. Many advanced technologies
are being developed now by NASA's New Millenium Program
(http://nmp.nasa.gov). Who will do that work in the
future? Perhaps some kids who spent their weekends launching
eggs in the air.
Are you a kid? Would you like to build your own rocket? Visit
NASA's Space Place and learn how to make a bubble-powered rocket!
(http://spaceplace.jpl.nasa.gov/rocket.htm.) It won't take
you to Mars, but it's a good way to get started.
article was provided by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California
Institute of Technology, under a contract with the National
Aeronautics and Space Administration.
A Boeing Delta II (7326) rocket launched the New Millennium Program
Deep Space 1 spacecraft on October 24, 1998.
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