FAIRMONT —All systems were go for two local schools that sent teams to the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) National Flyoff.
Teams from East Fairmont Middle School and North Marion High School took part in the May 12 event at the Great Meadow, The Plains, Virginia.
Team Stingers, one of two teams from East Fairmont Middle School, placed 17th in the competition, which is described as “the world’s largest student rocket contest and a key piece of the aerospace and defense industry’s strategy to build a stronger U.S. workforce in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).”
The members of Team Stingers were Eleanor Capuder, Stella Episcopo, Zoe Boyles, Sydni Taylor, Logan Hayhurst and Joseph Hutson.
The other team, Team Crayola, was comprised of Travis Hardwick, William Schwartz, Gavin Hissam, Courtney Eddy, Lainey Barnes and Kaelee Spevock. No information was available on their placement in the contest.
In addition, North Marion High School had two teams in the national competition. The Ninja Turtles team included Sarah Tennant, Gable Kolb, Morgan Rigsby and Libby Stull, and the Soaring Siberians consisted of Triton Tennant, Dizerea Boore, Talia Taylor, Lyndsey Taylor, Jacob Villers and Killianna Villers.
Chris Tennant, the coach for the North Marion High School teams, said the Ninja Turtles placed 60th and the Soaring Siberians 85th.
According to the TARC website, approximately 5,000 students from across the nation compete in TARC each year. It notes that the contest “challenges students to design, build and fly a rocket to safely carry a raw egg payload to a specific altitude and back within a certain amount of time.”
TARC states that based on local qualification flights, the top 100 teams are invited to Washington, D.C. in May for the national finals, and the top placing teams split more than $100,000 in cash and scholarships. The overall winning team travels to Europe to compete in the International Rocketry Challenge.
Barbara Pill, advisor for the East Fairmont Middle School teams, was thrilled that the teams were going to the competition. She and Chaz Tranter lead the STEM Club.
“It is very exciting to have my two teams, as well as the two teams from North Marion, represent West Virginia and Marion County at the nationals,” she said, prior to the event. “This is my sixth year with the STEM club and my first time to have a team advance, so two teams was very exciting.”
The students keep busy during the school year with all their activities.
“Through the year, we build and test the rockets to get them to the goals and ready to qualify,” she said. “We also work in the WVU and Capitol City Pumpkin Drops and FIRST Lego League robotics competition.”
Chris Tennant, meanwhile, noted how the North Marion High School students benefitted by competing in the national competition.
He said they were able to meet real engineers, make connections through networking, and experience what it’s like to be in competition under pressure.
In addition, they were able to do some sightseeing by visiting the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.
Eric Hrin can be reached at (304) 367-2549.