University of Maryland Extension

4-H Aerospace Workshop and Challenge

The double-flame exhaust of this rocket at lift-off comes from the successful ignition of its two clustered motors.
Image Credit: 
Photo by Daniel Diep
Thirty-eight 4-Hers from nine counties attended the State 4-H Aerospace Workshop on Sunday, July 17 from 2-7 pm at the Howard County Fairgrounds.
Whether an experienced rocket modeler or newcomer to the project area, youth had the opportunity to expand their study of aerospace and make engineering decisions while building and launching a rocket—all while having a great time!
The event was organized and presented by the 4-H aerospace education team of Joe Schepis, Cathy and Andrew Dobos, and Rich Lempicki from Montgomery County and Andy Driesman from Howard County.

The Workshop was supported by the State 4-H Office and a grant from the Montgomery 4-H Office. In addition to learning about physics, flight, history, parts identification, craftsmanship, and finishing techniques, the Seniors and Intermediates were introduced to cluster-motor construction (two or more motors in one rocket).

Seniors built the US Rockets “Rear Eject” kit, and Intermediates had the added challenge of selecting their own body-tube size, nose cone, and fin design from components. After honing their vocabulary with Aerospace Bingo, Juniors were given the opportunity to add a payload of a live cricket to their Quest “Payloader One” rockets with through-the-wall fins. These new innovations made for a very exciting launch—with high fives and cheers all around at the end of a hot afternoon!

All participants received an achievement certificate for attending. This year only the Seniors went on to the Challenge stage on July 24. There were six two-person teams—evenly split between boys and girls—who studied for several weeks in order to prepare for the rigorous testing: a general aerospace exam and a parts-identification test. Then for nearly two hours 4-Hers built their rockets, whose launch quality would be scored this time. Relying on their experience from the Workshop, Seniors built the Quest “Magnum Sport Loader” with two larger motors, and a payload bay for an egg and altimeter. Next the teams were interviewed about their rocket-construction decisions, with points awarded for proper handling of the payload bay, secure attachment of components, and understanding of stability.

Despite temperatures in the upper-nineties, the rocketeers were excited to witness their models' flights. Andrew Dobos opened the launch with a dual-deploy version of the out-of-production Estes “Super Big Bertha,” which flew to several hundred feet boosting on an F39T reloadable motor. Then each senior team launched their rocket, which was judged on the safety of the flight, successful deployment of two parachutes, altitude reached, and condition of the egg. In the end two eggs broke and four remained intact.

After the team ribbons and score-sheet packets had been distributed, the two seniors with the highest individual scores were announced. They will be heading to the National Engineering Challenge at Purdue University in September as members of the Maryland Engineering delegation. They are Gillian Hutter and Trevor Babb, both from Montgomery County. Here are the standings from the Challenge. Congratulations to all of our 4-Hers who studiously applied their knowledge and skills for high-flying day!

1. Gillian Hutter (Montgomery) and Kaitlyn Davey (Carroll) CHAMPION 
2. Trevor Babb (Montgomery) and Caleb Driesman (Howard) RESERVE CHAMPION 
3. Kerrin Viney (Carroll) and Katie Koster (Montgomery) 
4. Cody Viney (Carroll) and Heather Guernsey (Montgomery) 
5. Craif Sefcik Stone (Baltimore) and Rishi Biswas (Baltimore) 
6. Sheila Sohrabi (Prince George’s) and Jarrett Keys (Caroline) 

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