Six Kids Win Top Honors in the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition

The six winners in the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition have been determined. Winners’ celebrations will be held in October at the Astronaut Hall of Fame, Kennedy Space Center, Florida and US Space & Rocket Center, Alabama.
Addie Cramer - 2012 RFTS winner
Addie Cramer - 2012 RFTS winner
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Sept. 27, 2012 - PRLog -- In response to the nations call for more interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) activities – kids across the nation participated in the sixth annual Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition. At the end of the competition those who had the “Right Stuff”* were victorious. The annual competition runs continuously and has levels for ages ten to adult.

Contestants had to build and launch their own rocket. The competitions were held in their area by schools, scouts, youth groups and Challenger Learning Centers. The rockets are launched using a solid-fuel propellant and safely return to earth under a colorful parachute. The closest average landing to a target after two launches wins the local event. Local winner’s results were then submitted to the national competition headquarters. This produced six national winners - two at each of the three levels.

Three of the winners, Steven Brooks, Eric Madrigal and Zachary Johnson, won the opportunity to receive trophies and launch their rockets at the US Astronaut Hall of Fame in Florida. They will continue to celebrate with their families by visiting the Kennedy Space Center - Visitor Complex. There they will be awarded Space Shuttle Challenger commemorative coins by Astronaut Jerry Ross. Ross is a veteran of seven Space Shuttle missions and an incredible nine space walks.

The other winners of the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition; Dean Taylor, Oscar Corona and Addie Cramer will celebrate with their families at Space Camp at the US Space & Rocket Center in Alabama. They will receive trophies at the Space Shuttle simulator, Pathfinder and launch their rockets from Homer Hickam Field – named after the author of the inspirational book Rocket Boys and movie October Sky. All national winners will be awarded a Challenger commemorative coin with insert signed by Christa McAuliffe’s mother, Grace Corrigan.

Getting the opportunity to launch their rockets from a exciting location is an important part of the celebration. Competition director, Jack Colpas says this gives the national winners, “memories to last a lifetime and bragging rights for generations to come.” Information regarding the Competition and national winners’ celebration are at

Steven Brooks (age 12) competed at Crystal River Primary School, in Crystal River, Florida under teacher, Christina Hackey. Ms Hackey has been involved in the RFTS competition since 2010 and is working to raise the funds to enter 100 of her students in next year’s event. Ms Hackey is to be honored for her work in Helping Kids Reach for the Stars. She will receive a certificate from Astronaut Jerry Ross at Kennedy Space Center.

Zachary Johnson (age 14) won during a STEM Summer Camp under the direction of Associate Professor in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering, Dr. Brenda Haven of Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, Prescott, Arizona. Dr. Haven also involves her college students in the RFTS Collegiate Challenge.

Eric Madrigal (age 16) launched with his class at University High School, Orlando, Florida in a competition run by Teacher, Danielle Miller. Ms Miller is an Astronomy and Integrated Science Teacher, GEMS Sponsor and NHS Adviser. She learned of the Competition at the Florida Engineering Education Conference (FEEC) at the University of Central Florida.

Dean Taylor (age 12) won the honors with the Boy Scouts of Colorado - Troop 101. Dr. Warren dnveq Layfield of the Colorado Springs Rocket Society (COSROCS) assisted with the launch. Dr. Layfield is a National Association of Rocketry senior member and was honored in 2010 for his work in the Helping Kids Reach for the Stars program.

Addie Cramer (age 13) launched with her class at Palm Beach Day Academy in Palm Beach, Florida under teacher Tom Sarko. Addie had the best overall result with an amazing average landing distance of only 5 feet 7 inches! This is the second time Mr. Sarko has guided one of his students to a national win.

Oscar Corona (age 13) competed at the Challenger Learning Center in Framingham, Massachusetts in a competition held by Lead Flight Director, Evan Pagliuca. In a Competition that fosters the memory of the first Teacher in Space, Christa McAuliffe it is fitting that winners would be involved with Centers that “exist to carry on the mission of the Challenger crew to inspire kids.”

Model rocket manufacturer Estes provided $1200 in prize money. Each the six winners national winners will receive $200. The money is provided to any competitor who wins the national event using Estes rocket supplies. Estes Educator, under the direction of Ann Grimm, offers free educational materials involving rocketry, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) and aerospace education.

The prize money is provided to help with travel expenses. Three of the national winners will be traveling to the US Astronaut Hall of Fame at Kennedy Space Center – Visitor Complex in Florida. Three others will go tothe US Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. Travel funding is crucial. These kids have earned the right to attend the national winners’ celebrations held each year in October.

Delaware North Corporation - Parks & Resorts at KSC, Inc. and the Hampton Inn - Cocoa Beach joined together to provide unforgettable memories for the winners of the annual Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition. Tickets to the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex plus two nights lodging and breakfast are being provided for three winners and their families. Without the generosity of these companies, this winners’ celebration would not be possible.

Jack and Kathy Colpas, co-directors of the Helping Kids Reach for the Stars model rocketry program and the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition are retired public school educators. The goal of the program is to give kids the unique educational experience of building and launching a solid-fuel powered rocket. The mission is to keep alive the memory of the first Teacher-in-Space, Christa McAuliffe. The program is designated as an Educational Outreach of theChrista McAuliffe Challenger Learning Center.

* Thomas Wolfe, The Right Stuff – (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) 1979
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