Building Better Minds


These L.C. Bird students rocketed to the top of national competition

Posted at 4:30 AM, May 17, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-17 19:35:22-04

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. -- As many as 5,000 students competed for the national title in Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC). Five students going through the L.C. Bird High School Engineering program were among some of the best of them.

Getting to the national title competition this past weekend in Washington, D.C. took a lot of hard work.

"We use a rocket building simulation," student Candler Langston said. "We do all the designing and the planning in that so we can work out as many of the kinks as possible."

The contest is to design, build, and fly a rocket that can safely carry a raw egg payload to a specific altitude and back within a certain amount of time.

According to L.C. Bird physics teacher Ariel Jefferson, the Bird team perfected their rocket through trial and error.

"Their rocket kind of got destroyed a couple of times," she said. "They had to build it from the ground up at least twice that I recall.  Toward the end they built a spare rocket to make sure they could finish strong."

The finished product isn’t flashy, but Candler said looks don’t win these competitions.

"We tried to keep the fins very simple as well, because the fancier the fins are, the more likely they are to break.  And ours have never broken."

"This is going to look great on their resume when they apply to college," Ms. Jefferson said. "(To say) I was a TARC finalist in the 9th grade.  It's a great opportunity for them."

Rainy weather and updrafts made it difficult for a lot of teams participating in the rocketry challenge this past weekend.  The L.C. Bird team’s rocket performed well, but just missed the cut-off for the finals.  They had a great time and vowed to be back next year.