Central Indiana rocketry team heads to national competition

(WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A half-dozen high school students from central Indiana head to Washington D.C. to take on the Team America Rocket Challenge. The Covenant Christian High School team is the only one from the area competing at the national level. Joining them in the nation’s capital will be the Riley High School all-girls rocket team from South Bend.

The Covenant Christian ROCKets (left to right): Hang Ai, 11th grade (international student from China); Isaac Lepley, 9th grade; Nicolas Loenen, 12th grade (CCHS valedictorian); Yida Gao, 11th (international student from China); Joshua Ridenour 11th grade (captain); Elijah Masquelier, 10th grade.
The Covenant Christian ROCKets (left to right): Hang Ai, 11th grade (international student from China); Isaac Lepley, 9th grade; Nicolas Loenen, 12th grade (CCHS valedictorian); Yida Gao, 11th (international student from China); Joshua Ridenour 11th grade (captain); Elijah Masquelier, 10th grade.

Covenant Christian is a small high school on the west side of Indianapolis with just under 400 students. The six boys who make up the Covenant ROCKets think they just might be the best in the nation. They are already in the top 100 teams and one of just 15 already chosen for a special presentation in our nation’s capital this weekend.

“We get to experiment with different strategies and try to get the best results for our rocket,” team captain and Covenant Junior Josh Ridenour said.

But it will all come down to the moment they launch their creation in front of the judges.

“I’d just like for us to do the best that we can,” Ridenour said. “This will be a learning experience.”

Their task is for their rocket to fly to exactly 850 feet of altitude while carrying two raw eggs and an altimeter computer. Then the rocket needs to return to the ground within about 45 seconds with their raw egg payloads uncracked.

“The really cool thing that we did this year is the boat tail,” Ridenour said.

He can describe everything the team has designed, built, and tested with their rocket. That’s because it’s not just about the launch, the team can also win awards for their presentation, a portion of competition that can be even tougher than building the rocket. And really, those supporting the team say it’s all about building a future. Rolls Royce sponsors the team and David Newell even mentors the students along the way. The company hopes the Team America Rocket Challenge will encourage more kids like Ridenour and Chinese foreign exchange student Yida Gao, to choose careers in the math, science, and technology fields.

“In college, I’d like to study applied math and psychology, like a double major,” Gao said.

“I hope it gives me a little more experience with working with my hands and team work as well. and mostly problem-solving along with that. It’s good practice for that,” Ridenour said.

The national competition has 100-thousand dollars in scholarships and other awards on the line, so the Covenant Christian team said they’re focused on the top prize.

“I think we got a shot, yeah,” Gao said.

If one of the two Indiana teams competing does win, they will travel to the Farnborough Air Show in England to compete against the British, French, and Japanese teams in July.

Click here to learn more about the Team America Rocket Challenge.

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