Washington Evening Journal
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Maharishi School rocketry team prepares for contests
FAIRFIELD — Fairfield residents who travel past the Dexter Soccer Fields on West Grimes Avenue might notice a group of youngsters shooting rockets high into the sky.
Those are members of Maharishi School’s rocketry team, and they are testing the rockets they’ve built for an upcoming competition. The team has 10 members, the most allowed, and each member has a different job from designing the rocket, constructing it, collecting data about its launches, and creating a PowerPoint on the whole operation.
The competition changes a bit every year, and this year’s presents a special challenge. Not only must rocketry teams launch a rocket to a specific height and have it fall back to earth in a specific time, the rocket must safely transport two eggs inside. Not only that, but the eggs must be laid down along its long side, making it even more prone to break. If either egg cracks during the launch, that flight is disqualified.
“Mission objective No. 1 in this competition is keeping your simulated astronauts (eggs) safe,” said Rick Rudloff, the team’s adviser and a teacher at Maharishi School.
Rudloff said the rocketry team discovered the right balance of bubble wrap padding to ensure a safe flight each time after drop testing the eggs on a road.
Rudloff said this year’s team has a few upper class leaders such as juniors Kai Zhao and Evelyn (Yufan) Ding.
“Kai and Evelyn both have a sharp focus on the finest details of the rocket's design and construction,” Rudloff said. “Both can design custom parts in Fusion 360, our 3D design program.”
Ishita Mukadam is focused on data collection and analysis as well as leading the team in what is called the "Presentation Competition."
“The data analysis component is important for the team to understand how the rocket behaves under varying weather conditions so we can make proper adjustments when we fly,” Rudloff said. “The ‘Presentation Competition’ optional part of this competition involves creating a 20-slide Powerpoint-style presentation. Last year, our team was one of the Top 5 finalists in that aspect of the competition and we aim to repeat that performance and get to the Top 2 places.”
Other members are involved with construction, launch preparation, and on-site launch logistics like setup and timing of flights. Keshav Sinolia and Kai Zhai are leading the team in what is called the "Marketing Competition" where the team has the option of creating a 2-minute video highlighting the entire design, construction and flight experiences.
The team must submit the results from its qualification launches to the contest coordinators by April 4. The team will conduct more practice flights on Friday and through the weekend. Rudloff said that, if the team finishes in the Top 25 again like it’s hoping, it should be invited back to the NASA Student Launch competition for next year.
Rudloff said the team has not had to raise money yet this year to support its construction and launch activities as they had some carry-over money from last year.
“But should we make the Top 100 teams and be invited to Virginia in the Finals, we will need to raise quite a lot of money to send our large team to the D.C. area to compete in the finals,” Rudloff said. “My fundraising goals in the past have been to raise enough money so that no team member has to pay for any part of the trip. We have succeeded in that regard every year in the past and will seek to do the same this year.”
Call Andy Hallman at 641-575-0135 or email him at email@example.com