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Ferguson, Missouri to Space Camp – One Small Step
4-H summer camper Zachary Forte won local rocketry competition at the Challenger Learning Center in Ferguson, Missouri. He joins other Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition winners to celebrate at Space Camp / US Space & Rocket Center.
With minds set on the task at hand - not the turbulence around them - competitors prepared their rockets, aimed the launch rod and awaited the countdown. “Ready light - On!” 10…9...8…7…
Over 2,000 kids competed in the 8th annual Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition. The Competition promotes STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) education. Local Competitions were held by schools, scout troops, youth centers, museums, rocket clubs and Challenger Learning Centers across the country in this year long event. The winner of the local event had the closest average landing to a target after two launches. Twelve year old, Zachary Forte won the local event in the 4-H sponsored Competition in Ferguson that summer day.
The local winner’s information was forwarded to Competition headquarters and compared to all entries received. Local results determine national winners. National winners were invited to celebrate at Space Camp at the US Space & Rocket Center in "Rocket City" - Huntsville, Alabama. The winners' celebration appropriately took place under an October Sky (10/25/14). The competitors got to launch from Homer Hickam Launch Pad. Homer Hickam is the author of the memoire, Rocket Boys which became the inspirational movie October Sky.
Zachary wasn’t alone in his celebration. Several members of his family were there. In fact some of his classmates came by van to cheer him on. He celebrated with six other kids whose local win gained them the chance to launch their rockets and celebrate in style. Savannah Bobo, 10, won her event at a USAF STEM Camp in Tennessee; Anthony Roberson ,15, competed at North Kansa City High School in Missouri; Mary Rinehart, 11, took the honors at the Challenger Learning Center in Tallahassee;
Following the launch the winners got to experience the Astronaut Training Simulators at Space Camp. They took turns walking in the 1/6 gravity of the moon, moved about mock space in an MMU (Manned Maneuvering Unit) and tested their intestinal fortitude in the Multi-axis Trainer.
In addition, the kids were awarded a Space Shuttle Challenger commemorative coin and certificate that honor the memory of the first Teacher-in-Space, Christa McAuliffe and the crew of the Challenger. The certificates are signed by Captain Jon McBride, who piloted the Challenger on one of her earliest mission. To the delight of the crowd - the coins and certificates were presented by author, Homer Hickam. Most of the competitors and many of the family and friends had read his inspirational book Rocket Boys or seen the movie October Sky.
This is a fantastic opportunity for a young rocketeer. Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition directors Jack and Kathy Colpas boast, “National winners receive memories to last a lifetime - and bragging rights for generations to come.”
Brand new rocket kits - to encourage the young winners to further their rocketry experience - were provided by Estes – the world leader in educational rocketry. The group got to see the amazing display at Rocket and Shuttle Parks, the Apollo Courtyard and the Saturn V Hall. “The U.S. Space & Rocket Center (USSRC) is a Smithsonian Affiliate and the Official Visitor Center for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The Center has one of the largest collections of rockets and space memorabilia anywhere in the world.” http://rocketcenter.com/
Corporate sponsors are needed to insure kids nationwide the opportunity to enter the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition. Sponsors receive national recognition and the satisfaction of Helping Kids Reach for the Stars. More information is available at www.TheRocketman.net .
photo credit - Alan Lowrey, AIAA