Saturday, April 13th, 2013
By Margie Wuebker
Students to launch rocket at NASA event
Minster club acts as subcontractor for space agency
MINSTER - The mission is clearly stated: Build and launch a rocket that reaches a designated altitude and deploys its payload safely back to earth.
The Minster Junior/Senior High School Rocket Club hopes their colorful rockets will hit the mark in two national competitions.
Every year since 2009, the club has earned its way into the Team Rocketry Challenge where schools from around the country compete in the world's largest rocket contest. The Minster students placed 12th last year, earning them one of 25 invitations from NASA to compete at the Student Launch Initiative in Huntsville, Ala., next week.
Work for the NASA event began in late August when students had to develop an 80-page proposal for the 10-foot reusable rocket and the biological payload designed to measure the cellular growth of microbial yeast organisms in microgravity. Their proposal was reviewed by a NASA panel of engineers, scientists and education specialists.
The final test comes April 20 in Alabama when the rocket must soar a mile above the earth and safely deploy its payload.
"These kids are subcontractors working for the space agency," club adviser Ted Oldiges, who teaches science and technology, said. "And they have been busy."
Students submitted numerous reports, developed a website, engaged in educational outreach in the community and provided a timeline and a budget. Everything from the initial CAD designs to test flight analysis had to earn NASA approval.
"I was nervous until I saw a puff of talcum powder as the parachute deployed," team member Dane Dahlinghaus said about a test flight. "It was pretty cool."
Oldiges laughingly admitted he was more nervous than the day he got married.
"A rocket can do everything flawlessly 100 times and then disaster strikes the next time," he said.
All team members - Dahlinghaus, Austin Dwenger, Brooke Monnin, Hannah Kuether, Jessica Berelsman, Kyle Heitkamp, Pierce McGowan, Reid Frick, Trent Carlon, Sam Bornhorst, Carlin Elder, Danielle Monnin, Nathan Riethman and Bella Shurelds - played a part in the project. Bornhorst came up with rocket name "I Need My Space."
The students also are building another rocket for the next Team Rocketry Challenge in May near Washington, D.C. Minster has two teams going and are the only participants from Ohio.
Novices Ali Borgerding, Britenee Stevens, Hailey Oldiges, Jordan Nolan, Macey Elder and Sable Hudson have pinned their hopes on the rocket they built and named "Green Slime." The 650-gram rocket must hurtle 750 feet upwards in 48 to 50 seconds and return its payload - an uncooked egg - intact.
The goal of finishing in the top 20 is a lofty one and the accomplishment could result in another NASA invitation.
Oldiges said both rocket projects provide valuable lessons related to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and possible careers in aerospace. However, there is fun along the way to keep everybody interested and committed.
Teams receive no money from the school district to help with travel costs. Participants earned their way by selling laundry detergent, poinsettias and carnival food at the Mercer and Auglaize County fairs, Minster Oktoberfest and Lake Loramie Fall Festival.
"NASA provides a small amount of money but not nearly enough," Oldiges said. "And we don't want to ask moms and dads to foot the bill."
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