Local teens reach for the stars in national rocket competition

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- While most kids have been enjoying time off this summer, three teenage girls have been hard at work trying to add the title "rocket scientist" to their names, recently placing 4th in a national rocketry competition.

Each year, 100 of the top rocketry teams in the country compete in Virginia, where local Clear Creek students Alina, Katelyn and Elizabeth made a name for themselves.

"We had to design and build a rocket that would go a certain height in a certain amount of time, and this year we had to go 850 feet in 46 to 48 seconds," rocketry student Elizabeth Fortson said.

With precision and finite calculations, math is essential for accurate timing.

"I made these charts that would show me how much math I needed to add or deduct to get the perfect altitude," team member Alina Haryani explained.

Before blast off, numbers and statistics are entered to simulate a virtual launch.

"We use a program called Rocksim. Virtualizing, making the rocket on a computer program," 9th grade student Katelyn Oliver told us.

From there, the student teams build their rockets from scratch, choosing the right size, parts, engine and everything in between. It's truly a hands-on experience for each team member. As an added challenge, each rocket is required to carry some delicate cargo: two eggs are placed inside the rocket, and must remain intact during the launch.

Haryani said, "They have to go up 850 feet and come back down without cracking."

Their efforts paid off as they came in 4th place nationally overall, which came with a $10,000 award.

"We each got about $3,300 to use on scholarships," Oliver said.

Now they're hard at work looking to top that 4th place finish.

Fortson said, "we have a feeling we'll do well because now we're even better at it."

Overall, they say this experience has definitely paved the way for their future goals.

"I want to go into the Air Force, maybe become a pilot," Fortson said.

"I want to go to A&M and I am thinking about being an aerospace engineer," Oliver explained.

"Genetics and biotechnology. This has broadened my horizon, that's what's in the science field," Haryani said.

No matter where they go, they say the sky's the limit.
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