El Paso County 4-H Team Qualifies For World’s Largest Rocketry Contest

Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC)

April 6, 2015 – The El Paso County 4-H Tarc Team’s qualifying score has placed them in the top 100 teams that qualified for the Team America Rocket Challenge (TARC) National Finals. They will be the only Colorado team competing at the final fly-off on Saturday, May 9 in The Plains, Virginia, outside of D.C.

The El Paso County 4-H Tarc Team were among more than 600 students across the country to receive news last Friday that they are advancing. After months of hard work and more than a thousand qualification flights, submissions were tabulated and the top 100 scoring TARC teams were confirmed.

This year’s cohort of top 100 teams hail from 27 states and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Included in these are a team of varsity athletes, a group of marching band members, and a team mentored by a TARC alumnus. Close to one third of the students advancing to the finals this year are female, including seven all-girl teams.

Structured to emulate the aerospace industry’s engineering design process, TARC challenges teams of 3-10 students to design and build a model rocket that can travel to a height of 800 feet and back within 46 to 48 seconds. Each rocket carries one raw egg (representing an astronaut) that must return safely to the ground undamaged. Scores are determined by how close the rockets come to the required height and time; damaged eggs disqualify flights.

To encourage ingenuity and creativity, students are challenged with new design and flight requirements each year. This year’s competition calls for the rocket to divide during flight, safely returning the motor and the egg to the ground in separate sections. In addition, there is a new twist to the scoring of flights in the second round at the national finals. This year, the top 42 placing teams will advance to the second round with new height and time restrictions, requiring their rockets to travel to 775 feet and back within 45-47 seconds. This will require teams to alter their strategy and rockets between rounds in order to meet the new scoring parameters.

TARC finalists are competing for scholarships and prizes totaling more than $60,000 and the chance to travel to the Paris International Air Show in June courtesy. The winning team will represent the United States in the International Rocketry Challenge, facing off against teams from the United Kingdom and France. Lockheed Martin provides dedicated scholarship funds to each of the top three teams, and Raytheon sponsors the winning team at the annual international rocketry competition. 

Team America Rocketry Challenge is an annual event that starts in September and culminates in May with the National Finals. Approximately 5,000 students in grades 7-12 participate each year.

Teams can launch up to three qualification flights and the best two are added together to determine the team’s overall score. Flights are monitored and scored by a National Association of Rocketry official — scores are determined by how close the rocket comes to the required height or time — and teams with the top 100 scores move on to the national finals.

Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association, the National Association of Rocketry and 27 industry partners, TARC is the world’s largest student rocketry contest. Since its inception in 2002, TARC has inspired more than 60,000 middle and high school students to further explore the possibilities of a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This year, close to 700 teams representing 48 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands designed and built model rockets in hopes of qualifying for the national finals.

Founded in 1919 shortly after the birth of flight, the Aerospace Industries Association is the most authoritative and influential trade association representing the nation’s leading manufacturers and suppliers of civil, military and business aircraft, helicopters, unmanned aircraft systems, space systems, aircraft engines, homeland and cybersecurity systems, materiel and related components, equipment services and information technology.