Rocket Girls Win National Reach for the Stars Contest!

Two girls win top honors in national Reach for the Stars Rocket Contest. Awards Celebration to be held at the October Sky Festival in Coalwood, West Virginia.
By: Jack Colpas
Sept. 30, 2008 - PRLog -- Move over Rocket Boys. The Rocket Girls are here! Michelle Pieler of Braden River High School, Bradenton, Florida and Alexandra Gordon of Palm Beach Day Academy, Palm Beach, Florida won the national Reach for the Stars Rocket Contest. The girls beat out all other entries in a challenging spot-landing event. The contest promotes the Helping Kids Reach for the Stars Program – an educational outreach of the Christa McAuliffe / Challenger Education Center.

During the local phase of the competition, contestants were required to build and launch a solid-fuel powered rocket. Michelle chose an Alpha rocket. Alex competed with the Alpha III.  Both models are from Estes, recognized as the world leader in educational rocketry. To win the local event the girls had to have the closest average landing to a target after two launches. The local winner’s information was forwarded to contest headquarters to be compared to all other entries.

As national winners they get the opportunity to celebrate on Oct. 4, by receiving their trophies from famed author Homer Hickam and launching their rockets at the October Sky Festival in Coalwood, West Virginia – the town made famous by his inspirational book Rocket Boys and the movie October Sky.  Some of the original Rocket Boys will be there to lead the countdown for the launch from “Cape Coalwood.” Christa McAuliffe’s mother, Grace Corrigan and former Astronaut and Space Walker, Tom Jones are also scheduled to attend the Festival.

The contest presents a fantastic opportunity to young rocketeers. Contest directors Jack and Kathy Colpas boast that, “national winners receive memories to last a lifetime and bragging rights for generations to come.” For more details about the Reach for the Stars Rocket Contest and the October Sky Festival go to

This is the second year that a student from Braden River High School has won the contest. Under the direction of teacher Gil Burlew kids are taught to apply what they have learned. Burlew’s students have taken numerous awards and trophies in competitions sponsored by the national Technology Students Association. His students have also competed in the national finals for the prestigious Team America Rocketry Challenge.  Mr. Burlew has recently been named Secondary Educator - Teacher of the Year by the Manufacturers Association of Florida.

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The Helping Kids Reach for the Stars program is an educational outreach of the Christa McAuliffe ~ Challenger Center. Our goal is to give kids the unique educational experience of building and launching a solid-fuel powered model rocket.
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