Rocket club returns from Alabama partnership with NASA

The rocket club attended the NASA Student Launch Challenge in Huntsville, Ala., on April 9-14. They were eligible to compete since last year they placed well at The American Rocketry Competition in Washington, D.C. Ten years ago, Zeb Nicholson, a math and engineering teacher at the high school, started the rocket club. Autumn Umbarger is a physics teacher at the high school and became a mentor in 2022. 

Rocket club is an extracurricular at the high school where students build rockets from scratch and compete in various national competitions. Rebecca Nicholson is a senior and is in charge of the fundraising and outreach for rocket club and has been a part of the club since her sophomore year. She said, “In regard to fundraising, I communicate with local businesses for sponsors, with a clothing company to make team stores and make sure that we have enough of the materials we need/want for this year’s project. Outreach has to do a lot more with the community, so that involves me reaching out to elementary and middle school teachers to try and arrange a time for some of our members to do activities with the kids. We also do work with John Deere and the Waterloo Tech Society, so make sure that I am prepared to talk to community members who have more knowledge and a better understanding of the logistics of our rockets.”

On their trip to Alabama when the team wasn’t competing, they listened to guest speakers and attended other big events with astronauts and engineers. Nicholson said, “The experience was positive and energetic the whole time. No matter which event we were in as a team, everyone was having fun, enjoying themselves and learning so much along the way. I would one hundred percent attend in the future if I have a chance; as a senior, I am unable to attend again, but I will always recommend new members to take the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

NASA does not release the results from the competition until June, so the team will not know about any awards or grants until then.

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