University of Maryland Extension

Two-Stage Rockets Raise the Engineering Bar...

Image Credit: 
Daniel Diep

Thirty-four 4-Hers from eight counties attended the State 4-H Aerospace Challenge on Sunday, July 19 from 2-8 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, be tested on their knowledge, and make engineering decisions while building and launching a rocket—all while having a great time! The event and preceding workshop 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 and Challenge were sponsored by the Montgomery and State 4-H Offices, and attended by Dwayne Murphy, Faculty Extension Assistant from Baltimore County, as well as numerous adult volunteers.

In order to prepare the 4-Hers, an Aerospace Workshop took place the week before on July 12, with thirty 4-Hers attending from nine counties. This workshop included slide show presentations on aerospace physics, flight, and aviation electronics. A separate session for the Juniors covered rocketry basics as well as paper-airplane construction. Following that was model rocket parts-identification; craftsmanship and finishing techniques; gluing procedure; and three age-appropriate rocket kit-building sessions. The Juniors built a Quest Astra with through-the-wall fins; the Intermediates built the sustainer portion of a Quest Zenith II; and the Seniors a Quest Magnum Sport Loader, featuring a two-motor cluster configuration. Soon the rocketeers were launching their creations in the outer parking lot field to cheers and high-fives.

All participants were sent a link to study materials early in July in order to prepare for the rigorous testing at the Challenge. At the Challenge the 4-Hers immediately began building their rockets—whose launch quality would be scored this time. The theme for this year's Challenge was “two-stage rockets,” and each age group had the opportunity to build and launch a two-stager. Seniors received bonus points for the height achievement of their team's rocket as determined by an altimeter. Intermediates completed their Zenith II rockets by assembling the booster and adding a payload bay. Their rockets, flown as single-stage the week before, would now launch as two-stage and carry an electronic payload. The Juniors built a Centauri and added a pre-built Boostar-C so they could experience the launch of a two-stage rocket too. After the rockets were built, 4-Hers took aerospace examinations, and parts-identification tests. Then they proceeded out to the launch area while adult volunteers scored exams and took their places on the range with score sheets. Despite temperatures in the mid-nineties, the rocketeers were excited to witness their models' flights. Andrew Dobos opened the launch with a scratch-built clone of the popular, though out-of-production, Estes “Fat Boy.” The 5-inch diameter upscale flew to several hundred feet boosting on a cluster of three E16 Estes motors. Then the Juniors launched, with every rocket shedding its booster after propelling its second stage even higher. The Intermediates and Seniors loaded barometric altimeters into their payload bays in order to assess the height of their flights. Scoring volunteers had to listen to the reporting beeps of the altimeter in order to award appropriate points to the 4-Hers.

The competition was extremely close with ties for Champion and Reserve in the Juniors, and Reserve in the Intermediates. After the 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.

The 2015 state aerospace events were successful and the feedback has been very positive. Many thanks to the extension personnel who publicized them in county newsletters, online and in special e-mails. 

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!
Image Credit: Dorothy Newton

1. Aaban Syed—Howard   CHAMPION 

1. Ashel Gerald—Baltimore County   CHAMPION 

2. Anthony Jones—Baltimore County   RESERVE CHAMPION
2. Miller Gruen—Baltimore County   RESERVE CHAMPION
3. Oliver Tesar—Garrett
4. Andy Diep—Montgomery 

5. Eric Guernsey—Montgomery 

6. Kira Murphy—Harford 

7. Casimir Goodman—Baltimore County 

8. Jason Harris—Montgomery 

9. Kaitlyn Spicer—Howard

1. Rishi Biswas—Baltimore County   CHAMPION 

2. Samuel Jones—Baltimore County   RESERVE CHAMPION 

2. Imaad Syed—Howard   RESERVE CHAMPION
3.Ethan Roby—Howard 

4.Didier Osias—Baltimore County 

5.Serena Newton—Carroll 

6.Maxwell Nelsen—Anne Arundel 

7.Heather Guernsey—Montgomery 

8. Lauren Guernsey—Montgomery
9. Christian Lumb—Queen Anne's
10.Ryan Guernsey—Montgomery

1. Jacob Newton and Bryce Davey—Carroll    CHAMPION 

2. Rich Lempicki and Trevor Babb—Montgomery   RESERVE CHAMPION

3. Kaitlyn Davey and Kerrin Viney—Carroll

4. Caleb Driesman and Payton Stoneberger—Howard
5. Peter Tesar and Gertrude Tesar—Garrett
6. Cody Viney (Carroll) and David Lumb (Queen Anne's)


Jacob Newton—Carroll 

Richie Lempicki—Montgomery

Maintained by the IET Department of the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. © 2021. Web Accessibility

University programs, activities, and facilities are available to all without regard to race, color, sex, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, marital status, age, national origin, political affiliation, physical or mental disability, religion, protected veteran status, genetic information, personal appearance, or any other legally protected class. If you need a reasonable accommodation to participate in any event or activity, please contact your local University of Maryland Extension Office.