May 17, 2012

Mojave hosting Intermediate Space Challenge

by Raphael Jaffe
Staff Writer

Big Daddies are lined up to be fired at a previous ISC.

Forty teams will be competing in the Intermediate Space Challenge at Mojave Air and Space Port May 22.

There will be 30 teams from Mojave and California City, and 10 from the surrounding area schools.

More than 1,000 students and their teachers and advisers are expected for the challenge, now in its eighth year. That’s a substantial growth from just a few Mojave school classes when the challenge began.

The challenge was designed by Marie Walker, CEO of Fiberset, Inc., that is located at Mojave Air & Space Port. She wanted to infuse the 10- to 12-year old minds with interest in math and science, to inspire careers in technology and science; and to experience working as a team. The hands-on fun of building their classes’ rocket has been just the thing. Walker is a board member and the treasurer of the East Kern Airport District, which operates Mojave.

The Tehachapi School district participated in earlier contests. It was judged so beneficial that Tehachapi now conducts its own Intermediate Science Challenge.

ISC emphasizes teamwork and problem solving. The class chooses its own name, and then gets to build and decorate a Big Daddy. Each student writes an essay and does an illustration about the experience. The class prepares a poster. Advisers from high school rocket/science clubs mentor the students, along with their teacher.

The event features two flights of each class’s rocket. The classes are judged on rocket performance, rocket integration, team banner, team spirit and an illustrated essay on rocketry. The rockets are Estes Co. 16-inch Big Daddy models. Live arming and actual firing is done by Mojave Air & Space Port personnel. Rocket height is measured by two teams from Edwards Air Force Base. Heights of more than 500 feet are reached.

On competition day, the students are bussed to Mojave Air & Space Port. At a safe distance behind a rope barrier, the boys and girls cheer their rocket up. Airport volunteers retrieve the spent rockets for a second launch.

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