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April 24, 2007 > Newark Rocket Team qualifies again

Newark Rocket Team qualifies again

Five students from Newark Memorial High School qualified to compete in the national finals of the prestigious Team America Rocketry Challenge, the world's largest model rocket contest.

Nearly 7,000 students in 690 teams attempted to meet the rigorous requirements of the contest, but only the top scoring 100 high school and middle school teams qualified to compete in the national finals.

Student team members include: team captain Anthony Camarra, Ramon Arias, Donny Evans, Matt Jacuzzi, and Emily Thym. Having attended the finals 2 years ago, Anthony Camarra said he was looking forward to returning to Great Meadow, in The Plains, Virginia, for the May 19th national fly-off and hopes that his team will finish in first place.

New member, Ramon Arias said the most difficult problem to overcome was making the necessary adjustments to achieve the specific height requirement. Another new member, Emily Thym said that the hardest part of the competition was keeping everyone on task. With some guidance from their teacher, Jerry Liang, and LUNAR mentor Alan Thym, the students are completely responsible for the design and construction of their rocket.

The contest requires that students design, build and launch a rocket that will safely carry a single raw egg to an altitude of 850 feet. The rocket must also return the egg safely to ground by parachute within the time requirement of 45 seconds. This year's team qualified by having a successful launch to 854 feet with a flight time of 46.2 seconds. The top ten teams will share a prize pool of $60,000 in savings bonds and cash.

Team supervisor Jerry Liang, Newark Memorial High School astronomy and aerospace science teacher, said the contest is an excellent opportunity for students to learn hands-on lessons in aerodynamics in a non-classroom setting. Participants apply concepts of physics like computing trajectory and eliminating drag to their models and see the results immediately, Liang said. "This is really a special group of students where a majority were freshman, new to model rocketry. Luckily, we had some experienced members and were able to overcome a number of problems faced during the design and construction of the rocket. Our best launch turned out to be our final qualification launch!''

The project had the teams building rockets in a manner not too far off from professionals. The contest promotes teamwork, delegation of tasks and group decision-making, Liang said. Asked about the most memorable moment so far, high school freshman, Matt Jacuzzi responded, "Seeing our rocket crash and almost hit a police car".

The ambitious undertaking has costs, and the team is looking for sponsors to help defray the cost of hotel and travel to the Washington, DC area. If you are interested in providing financial assistance to Newark Memorial's rocketry team, please contact teacher Jerry Liang at 510-818-4460 or gliang@nusd.k12.ca.us.

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