Haleyville City Schools rocketry team prepares to compete in nationals

Haleyville City Schools Rocketry Team members headed to nationals this month. Back row from left, HCS STEAM Director Candy Garner, students Hunter Nolen, team captain; Ian Ramos, Warren Hicks and Team Sponsor Lynsi Bragwell. Front row, from left, MaKenzee Miller, Kaylee Parrish and Aiden Armstrong.

HALEYVILLE       - One of two rocketry teams at Haleyville City Schools is soaring to even greater heights, qualifying to attend national competition May 18-22.
The actual national competition is being held on May 20, and the attending team has overcome all odds to craft their rocket, in their first year as an organized team.
HCS STEAM Coordinator Candy Garner stated that when she came to HCS five years ago, she had goals of  implementing both robotics and rocketry teams. Both of those teams were formed earlier in the school year.
As students signed up for the rocketry team last year, based on high grades and character, they wanted to immediately work toward competition, school officials said.
“And compete they have,” Garner noted.
A rocketry expo, open for all students across the system last fall, literally launched the idea for the rocketry team.

Andrew Heath, a leader in the American Rocketry Challenge, visited the school to do a rocket simulation, showing students how to launch self-created rockets. Heath’s demonstration obviously was appealing, with 150 students initially signing up to be on the school’s rocketry team.
Applications had to be submitted along with a teacher evaluation form, according to HMS Math Teacher and Rocketry Teams Sponsor Lynsi Bragwell.
In order to be on the rocketry team, a student could not have below a B in a math or a science class, according to Bragwell, “because this is a math and science club.”
Those 100 students were narrowed down to 18, consisting of two teams of nine students each, according to Bragwell.
Of the two teams, only one had the lowest score,  with the student-created rocket soaring to at least 850 feet within 42-45 seconds after launch. The team comprises of students in grades 6-10.
“We had to submit two flights into the portal,” said Bragwell. “We submitted them online to qualify.”
Based on the two flights submitted from each team, the winning HCS rocketry team had a score of 35, with the cutoff score being 38, according to Bragwell. The flight was 855 feet accomplished within 38 seconds, officials said.
Another requirement was that students had to design and create their own rockets as a team for the launch, Bragwell added.
Each team member has a different responsibility when it comes to designing the rocket.  One student will pack a parachute (which deploys when the rocket blasts off then floats back down), while others assemble the rocket’s motor.
“A motor has to be assembled every single time we launch,” Bragwell stated.
Others pack an egg, which must be inside the rocket and cannot crack during the launch in order for the the team to not be disqualified.
The team uses math and science to determine the weight the rocket needs to reach the required height, Bragwell continued.
The team completed 33 practice flights before mastering all the concepts needed for the required flight, school officials said.
“Who would not have thought that the first year they would have made it to nationals,” Garner pointed out.
HCS’s rocketry team is one of only 100 that will be competing nationally.
Students are responsible for their spending money for the trip to Washington, D.C., but efforts are being sought through fundraisers and donations to provide the remaining costs of the trip, school officials said.
Students will have  their hotel and flight paid through these fundraisers and donations, according to Garner.
Parents, who wish to accompany their child on the trip, must pay for their own expenses, she noted.
The rocketry team is receiving community and area-wide support through donations from businesses, industries, the National Space Club in Huntsville, as well as doing fundraisers, school officials said.
The rocketry team’s Boston butt sale will continue through May 5, with pickup on May 13, at 1 p.m. at Piggly Wiggly.
The Boston butts are $35 each and can be purchased from any member of the team, officials said.


See complete story in the Northwest Alabamian.
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