Apfel leads team to rocketry challenge in Virginia

Led by junior Dana Apfel, Shelby Junior High’s rocket team made it to the big leagues. Because of her experience and skill, Apfel is leading the team while they battle head to head to The Plains, Va., at their final competition against 100 other competing teams on May 9.

“This is my third year participating in rocket club and my second year leading as team captain, but we aren’t just about shooting rockets,” Apfel said. “Rocket club is about working together. At first it didn’t sound like it was for me, but my friend told me to try cause I may just end up liking it, and I fell in love with the program after going.”

The teams are challenged to create and design a functional model rocket that can travel to a height of 800 feet and return back to ground within 46 to 48 seconds. The tricky part is that each team’s rocket will carry one raw egg which represents an astronaut. The rocket must return with the egg undamaged. The scores will be determined by how close the rockets come to the required height, as well as the time. Any damaged egg will result in a disqualification.

This year’s event calls for the rocket to divide during flight, safely returning the motor including the egg back to the ground in separate sections. With all struggling challenges comes a good twist. The top 42 placing teams will advance to the second round with new height and time restrictions, requiring their rockets to travel 775 feet high and back within 45 to 47 seconds. This altercation will force teams to strategize more precisely than originally intended to meet the newly tweaked parameters.

The final teams are competing for not only scholarships and prizes totaling more than $60,000, but a chance to travel to the Paris International Air Show in June, courtesy of the Raytheon Company. The winning team will also represent the United States in the International Rocketry Challenge, facing off against teams from the United Kingdom, as well as France.