The ninth annual Intermediate Space Challenge was held at the Mojave Air and Space Port May 13 with little wind and no clouds.
The 26 classes from the Mojave area enthusiastically enjoyed their competition, as did the teachers, parents and onlookers.
Marie Walker, founder of Fiberset and Mojave ASP director, created the event for 4th to 6th graders, to inspire them to study science and math. It has been such a success that Tehachapi schools have conducted a similar event for several years, and this year the Edwards school district will hold an event. Classes from Rosamond and Pine Crest will participate this year.
Keenan Hochschild was on hand representing U.S. Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif.
Additionally attendees this year included observers from several schools. The Lancaster School District plans to hold a Challenge starting next year and observers present included Lorraine Zapata, Julianne Vela and Jim Chambers. Andy Glatfelter of Discovery School was present, as were Andrew Parker and Susan Clipperton of the Mojave School District were there.
Walker kicked off the event by asking the students if it was fun learning about math, and they roared back that it was.
Dr. Aaron Haughton, Mojave Unified School District superintendent, recalled how he watched the first moon landing many years ago as a 7-year old, and after that “always wanted to learn, always looked up to the stars.”
The invocation was given by Pastor John M. Mijares of the Mojave Four Square Church, and a 20-student Mojave choir, led by Tim Lomba, sang the Star Spangled Banner.
Then the rocket firings started.
There are four parts to the challenge. 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 Mojave ASP 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.
The Edwards team this year was comprised of Edwards ISC coordinator Wendy Leonard, Michael Kopriva, Master Sgt. Randall Faltinosky, Staff Sgt. Troy Tetreault and Staff Sgt. Jared Burrowc. Leonard and Kopriva are civilians with the F-16 engineering group of the 416th FLTS. The two teams measure rocket height azimuth and degree from opposite sides of the rocket path, and results are averaged.
The highest rocket height of the day was 596 feet achieved by team 21, The Hacienda School “Team Dragons,” Mrs. Stover teacher. The highest overall points scored by a school went to Mojave Elementary School; it was awarded the Traveling Trophy. The Trophy is inscribed “Inspiring America’s Future Engineers and Space Pioneers.” It is donated by Mojave ASP.
The Mojave maintenance crew handled actual launching of the big Daddy rockets. Harold Smith, maintenance foreman, was launch control officer. The rockets were retrieved and sometimes even caught before hitting the ground by Brian Lehman, Mike Edmonds, Gerardo Perez, Jose Carrillo, Martin Iboa, Steve Marquez, Danny Gaunce and Lamar Davis
Several organizations made generous donations for the event. These include Arts Science Technology, Benz, Big Iron, Derek Butler [Allstate Insurance], Fiberset Inc., Incotec, Joyce Media, Mojave Air & Space Port, Mojave Unified School District, Rio Tinto, Southern California Gas, Terra Gen Power, and The Spaceship Company. Other donors included Altman’s Carpet Cleaning, Dance with Me Co., Friends of Jawbone, Radio Shack, Randy & Terry Scott, Michele & Bob Slade, Mojave High School Virtual Enterprise, My Printing Co., and Sunset Grill. Because of their generosity, the students [and VIP guests] enjoyed lunch between the first and second round of rocket firings. For the first time, an engraved medallion was presented to each student whose class won first place. There are tentative plans to use donated funds for a student field trip to a southern California site of interest.
The rocket performance scores were:
The rocket performance scores are shown below:
Place Team # School Team Name Teacher Height [ft]
1st Place – Team #7, Hacienda Elementary School, Space Pioneers, Mrs. Benzie’s Class, 523
2nd Place – Team #2, MojaveElementary School, Burning Colts, Mr. Bickell, 509
3rd Place – Team #1, Mojave Elementary School, Zonn’s Zoomers, Mrs. Zonn, 504
1st Place – Team #13, Hacienda Elementary School, The Lucky Aces, Mrs. Waldheim, 473
2nd Place – Team #14, Hacienda Elementary School, Desert Dragons, Mrs. Gutierrez, 452
3rd Place – Team #3, Mojave Elementary School, Carol’s Rocket Crushers, Mr. Carol, 410
1st Place – Team #19, Hacienda Elementary School, Galaxy Penguins, Mrs. Davis, 492
2nd Place – Team #21, Hacienda Elementary School, Team Dragons, Mrs. Stover, 486
3rd Place – Team #16, Hacienda Elementary School, The Big Tomato, Mrs. Carter, 454