University of Maryland Extension

4-H Aerospace Workshop and Challenge

Image Credit: 
Daniel Diep.

Twenty-three 4-Hers from five counties attended the State 4-H Aerospace Workshop on Sunday, July 16 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 and John Schepis, Cathy and Andrew Dobos, and Rich Lempicki from Montgomery County; and Andy Driesman from Howard County. The Workshop and Challenge were made possible with support from the State 4-H Office, with special assistance by Jamie Kenton and several 4-H volunteers.

In addition to learning about physics, flight, history, parts identification, craftsmanship, and finishing techniques, the 4-Hers were required to build a rocket in less than two hours time. Seniors built the Quest Zenith II, while the Intermediates experimented with the Condor Boost Glider—a rocket glider that made a graceful descent on the launch range. Juniors built the ASP Neo Standard rocket in order to practice their best build techniques for the Challenge rocket that would include a payload compartment. With parents cheering on their 4-Hers on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, the rocket launches were enjoyed greatly by all! Participants received an achievement certificate for attending.

The 4-H Aerospace Challenge, which required participation in a Regional Qualifier this year, took place on July 23. There were eighteen participants who studied for several weeks in order to prepare for the rigorous testing, which included 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 Estes Supernova; the Intermediates built the Custom Skybird; and the Juniors built the Apogee Research Express. Each rocket carried an altimeter in order to be awarded points for the altitude achieved at launch. In addition the four Seniors were asked to complete a “homework” assignment between the Workshop and Challenge that required the use of the Open Rocket software application that predicts a rocket’s behavior at launch. All four contestants showed their savvy using this computer-simulation program in order to plot out a higher altitude within the assigned parameters. The two Senior teams were interviewed about their rocket-construction decisions, with points awarded for proper insertion of motors and altimeters, secure attachment of components, and understanding of stability.

With the prediction of stormy weather at launch time, 4-Hers and their parents remained inside until the rain let up. As soon as the launch equipment was in place, the 4-H rocketeers hurried outside to the range with great expectations for successful flights. Because of this year’s theme, each rocketeer or Senior team had the chance to be awarded extra points for their altitude.

After the score sheets were tabulated and ribbons 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 Imaad Syed from Howard County and Rishi Biswas from Baltimore County.

Here are the standings from the Challenge. Congratulations to all of our 4-Hers who studiously applied their knowledge and skills for a high-flying day! For more photos visit


  1. Stephen King (Queen Anne’s)   CHAMPION
  2. Jason Malik (Montgomery)   RESERVE CHAMPION
  3. Logan Moon (Baltimore)
  4.  Duncan Beall (Howard)
  5.  Stephen Jones (Baltimore)
  6.  Terry Fields III (Baltimore)

Highest altitude: Terry Fields III, 175 ft.



  1.  Brennan King (Queen Anne’s)   CHAMPION
  2.   Anthony Jones (Baltimore)   RESERVE CHAMPION
  3.  Aaban Syed (Howard)
  4.  Addison Herbert (Charles)
  5.  James Hyman (Montgomery)
  6.  Ryan Guernsey (Montgomery)
  7.  Eric Guernsey (Montgomery)
  8.  Lauren Guernsey (Montgomery)

Highest altitude: James Hyman, 116 ft.


1.  Heather Guernsey (Montgomery) and Imaad Syed (Howard)   CHAMPION

2.  Rishi Biswas (Baltimore) and Sam Jones (Baltimore)    RESERVE CHAMPION

Highest altitude: Heather Guernsey and Imaad Syed, 431 ft.



Imaad Syed—Howard
Rishi Biswas—Baltimore
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