Shooting High: Rocket club aiming for national competition in Washington, D.C.

Members of the rocket suspend their rocket in the wind tunnel at the University of Iowa.

Walking into the basement during a “normal Tuesday” during A shift of power hour for a rocket club meeting, one might expect to see a ton of kids crowded around a rocket, possibly fighting over the next launch or the color that they could spray paint it next, but after opening the door of the old drivers ed room, one is greeted by music playing from a speaker and a group of students who were more than willing to share their excitement of this program and their goals for this season.

Rocket club is composed of seven students and one leader, Zeb Nicholson. This is the third year of rocket club at the school, and the club numbers and participation have gone up significantly compared to previous years experienced.

These students are given specific requirements and a challenge to build a rocket that reaches a certain height and spends a certain amount of time in flight, all without cracking an egg strategically placed into the rocket. Every second and foot that they are off of the goal in place by the National Association of Rocketry, points are added. The goal is similar to golf: have the lowest number of points.

The team has already had one test flight and reached a total of 29 points, a number that exceeded their expectations. Hopes are high as they have goals of competing in the national competition in Washington, D.C., that will be held early May.

In order to qualify for this competition, the team has to send in two flights that are watched by an official. Their numbers are then compared over 800 other teams across the nation, and the top 100 lowest scores are invited to attend the national competition. The top 10 teams receive cash to help the program and a little bit extra spending money.

Rocket club is not a school-funded club, so all money for the program is either raised through fund raisers or help from the Tiger’s Den. As each launch costs about $20 each, and most teams do about 30 before they send in their numbers, but last year the club only needed an impressive three launches until the national competition. This was something that caught the attention of University of Iowa’s engineering program, and the club was invited to Iowa City to put their rocket to the test

The team placed the rocket into a 60 mph wind tunnel and hoped for the best. If something were to go wrong, the rocket would be ripped to shreds. They strategically suspended the rocket into the vertical wind tunnel, and it didn’t move one bit. It gave hope to the team that their rocket would fly well.

Those interested in the club can email Nicholson or stop by one of their meetings. Walking into a room of students that are passionate about something and have fun while doing can really change one’s perspective on clubs  and rockets.

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