Seabrook girls blast to success at rocket competition
A team of seventh-grade girls from Seabrook Intermediate School can compete with high-schoolers, at least when it comes to rocket science.
Seabrook Intermediate's 10-member team placed 31st out of 100 at the National Team America Rocketry Challenge, which was held May 14 in Manassas, Virginia. Not only were they the youngest competitors, they also devised a rocket that reached an altitude of 750 feet and parachuted down, all without breaking a raw egg nestled onboard.
"They started coming to practice for rockets in the sixth grade—they started a year early," says Seabrook science teacher Sam Youts, who sponsored the team along with college Jan Larsen. The team met on weekends, holidays, even during the summer after they completed sixth grade, when the school had no air-conditioning, Youts says.
The team's ranking at the competition is impressive, Youts says, considering that most of the other teams were high-school juniors and seniors, not seventh-graders who haven't even learned algebra yet.
Youts says the long, trial-and-error process of engineering a rocket was "the scientific method personified.... the cool thing about this particular competition is that the adults and parents, we're not allowed to touch the rocket... we're just here to make sure they're doing everything safely."
Oddly enough, Youts says, the girls never had a problem keeping the egg safe on their test flights. They did have to make some tough decisions, at one point getting rid of some fins on the rocket despite liking the way they looked: "Math won over vanity."
"It has to be a grade-a large white egg," Youts notes. "The free-range brown eggs, those are harder to crack and we're not allowed to use those."
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