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HomeNewsArchivesECJH Rocketry Club Takes Aim at the Next Level

ECJH Rocketry Club Takes Aim at the Next Level

As one of top 25 teams in this year’s Team America Rocketry Challenge, the Elena Christian Junior High School Rocketry Club has been invited to submit a proposal that, if successful, would lift them to the next level of their hobby.

The National Association of Rocketry and the Association of Experimental Rocketry of the Pacific (AeroPac) have invited the school’s young rocketeers to write a proposal to win the parts needed to build an S4 payload that will be launched by AeroPac members in June 2015 at Black Rock, Nev.

According to the news release from the V.I. Department of Education, the focus of the competition is to design a scientific experiment that can be conducted with the S4 payload.

S4 stands for Small Satellites for Secondary Students, a partnership between the Education and Public Outreach group at Sonoma State University, Tripoli Rocketry Association’s AeroPac prefecture and the Endeavour Institute. According to the S4 website, the program helps educators and their teams "build experimental payloads to fly on tethered weather balloons and/or rockets, enabling students to participate in the thrill of experimental design and implementation."

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Five teams will be selected to participate in the contest, and the winning team of the five will receive a $1,000 cash prize, sponsored by NAR.

Elena Christian’s Rocketry Club advisor Steve Bullock said he plans to have a proposal in place for the contest by the Dec. 1 deadline.

“It gives me a lot of satisfaction to know that these students have the skills and talent to excel to the very top of aerospace science,” Bullock said Monday, minutes before holding a briefing with the club’s students to discuss the invitation. “This is junior high and it’s really rewarding to see that NASA and these aerospace companies chose our school to participate in a project that is usually done at the graduate level in college.”

“They saw what we did this year in the TARC competition and said our students have potential," Bullock said.

The ECJH Rocketry Club is in its 12th year and has competed in the last six TARC contests. This year the club boasts about 15 members, including five members who have moved on to high school.

During Monday’s briefing, Bullock invited Amalaye Oyake – a native Crucian on vacation from his job at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, where he worked for the last 20 years – to speak to the students. Oyake described the work he does at JPL, such as measuring ocean topography and helping to track hurricanes and wind speeds on the ocean surface.

Oyake drilled the students on the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematical concepts.

“They saw a lot and they asked a lot of questions,” Oyake said after the meeting. “It was really exciting to be amongst this young group.”

Bullock said ECJH Rocketry Club members will compete in the TARC contest on May 10, 2015, and switch their focus to Black Rock on June 19, when they enter the competition to design a scientific experiment that can be conducted with the S4 payload.

“It’s a tremendous achievement for the school and St. Croix,” Bullock concluded.

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