As if to make up for gale winds that forced postponement last week, there was no wind May 31 when the eighth Intermediate Space Challenge was held at Mojave Air and Space Port.
There were 28 classes, 4th to 6th graders, from Mojave, California City, Rosamond and Edwards. For the first time, there were 7th and 8th grade classes from Lancaster. Attendance was about 1,300, including teachers, mentors, observers and parents.
Distinguished attendees included Stuart Witt, CEO of the space port; Dick Rutan famed pilot and Airport Board Secretary; Dr. Aaron Haughton, Mojave Unified School District Superintendent; MUSD Board President Sherry Ott; MUSD Board Member Andrew Parker; Kern County District 2 Supervisor Zack Scrivner; and District Representative Vince Fong on behalf of U. S. Representative Kevin McCarthy.
The competition judges each class on rocket performance, rocket integration, a spirit banner, and an illustrated essay on rocketry. The rockets are Estes Co. 16-inch Big Daddy models. There are two flights of each class’s rocket. Live arming and actual firing is done by space port personnel. Rocket height is measured by two teams from Edwards AFB.
ISC emphasizes teamwork and problem solving. The class chooses its own name. It 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. Advisors from high school rocket/science clubs mentor the students, along with their teacher.
The Air Force Flight Test Center measurement personnel were headed by Mickey Bowen, Flight Test Outreach Lead, of the 812th Test Support Squadron. Each team of three set up 500 feet from the launch point with elevation and azimuth instruments. Those readings were relayed and a computer program used to generate attained height to the nearest
On competition day, the students are bussed to Mojave Air and Space Port. At a safe distance behind a rope barrier, the boys and girls cheer their rocket up. Volunteer airport employees arm and launch the rockets. Other airport volunteers retrieve the spent rockets for the second launch, which occurs after a lunch break.
This year the winning school was Hacienda Elementary. An all-time record height of 940 feet was reached by the Strahan’s Sychos class of Mojave Elementary school. The competition was opened by a 20-strong choir of 4th to 6th graders from Mojave Elementary School which sang the Star Spangled Banner. It was trained and conducted by Tim Lomba, instructional specialist with the Mojave Unified School District.
Marie Walker of Fiberset, Inc. originated the Space Challenge for intermediate school classes, to inspire science and engineering studies. She conducted the event. It has grown through the years and NASA has prepared a curriculum guide for it.
Witt greeted the students, thanking the school districts “for letting us put this on, in this risk adverse environment.”
The Dragon cargo craft had just completed its successful mission to the International Space Station. Witt urged the students to go home and hear and see what had just happened in space travel.
Several guests made statements on the event. Haughton said he was especially glad to see that the event was growing, with classes from Lancaster. He said it was wonderful for putting emphasis on the Science Technology Engineering Mathematics curriculum. He mentioned that the district is starting a Solar/Renewable Energy Academy open to 9th to 12th graders, to train solar installation technicians. There are 70 students, including adults, who have pre-enrolled.
Scrivner said this is a terrific event that challenges the imagination of the children. “We are standing at the center of aerospace innovation here at the Mojave Air and Space Port, and I congratulate Marie Walker and Stuart Witt for sponsoring it each year.”
McCarthy’s statement said, “This is a great day in Mojave as we celebrate another successful Intermediate Space Challenge. We congratulate all the students and teachers who participated. The ISC is an amazing program that teaches our local students the importance of math and science.”
Many sponsors contributed money and equipment for the ISC. These included the Air Force Flight Test Center; Benz Sanitation; Fiberset, Inc.; Jim’s Radio Shack of California City; Mellor Printing/Paul Carol; Mojave Air and Space Port; NASA; Rio Tinto; Scaled Composites; Sempra Energy; Terra-Gen Power; and The Spaceship Company. Among the volunteers who assisted were Theresa Bissex, Jim Chambers, Cris Johnston, Andria Kingsley, and Rudy Villarreal.
Results of Intermediate Space Challenge 2011
(Each school received a gift bag from NASA)
4TH GRADE DIVISION: Ms. PLUDE – The Space Hawks
5th GRADE DIVISION: Mr. CAROL – Carol’s Cobras
5th GRADE DIVISION: Ms. BAILEY – The Night Lighters
CERTIFICATES FOR “BEST ROCKET PERFORMANCE”
Highest Rocket Heights – (average of both flights)
1st Place: Team #21 HES Ms. Plude – The Space Hawks 453.3 feet
2nd Place: Team #20 HES Ms. Tate – Gold Rushing Jets 428.89 feet
3rd Place: Team #3 MES Ms. Zohn – The Monsters 405.08 feet
1st Place: Team #5 MES Mr. Coats – Gravity Killers 461.73 feet
2nd Place: Team #4 MES Mr. Carol – Carol’s Cobras 378.56 feet
3rd Place: Team #15 HES Ms. Oakley – The Dark Angels 369.49 feet