Estes Educator newsletter
October 2013
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Reach For The Stars National Winners
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Reach For The Stars National Winners
Contestants in the seventh annual competition had to build and launch a solid-fuel powered rocket at an event held in their area by schools, YMCAs, Scouts, Challenger Learning Centers and other youth groups. The closest average landing (by parachute) to a target after two launches was declared the winner, with the local winner's results entered into the national Competition. The annual competition runs continuously and is open to ages 10 to 18.

The six national winners in the Reach for the Stars -- National Rocket Competition have earned the opportunity to celebrate in grand fashion! Three of them -- Ariel Lynch , Alma Perez and Mahlia Schneck -- will celebrate at Kennedy Space Center - Visitor Complex in Cape Canaveral Florida.

They will receive trophies at the Astronaut Encounter Theater, and the winners will continue their celebration with their families by visiting the Space Mirror Astronaut Memorial, standing in the world famous Rocket Garden, riding the Shuttle Launch Experience and touring the Kennedy Space Center -- Visitor Complex. One of the memorable events for all will be the launching of their rockets at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame -- where one of the world's most comprehensive collections of space memorabilia is displayed.

Ariel Lynch competed at Camp Connect with counselor Kevin Knipe at the University of Central Florida. Camp Connect is designed for under-represented students (women, Hispanic, African American, Latino, American Indian / Alaskan native) in the field of engineering.

Alma Perez launched her winning rocket during a summer program at El Camino High School in Oceanside, California. Her teacher, Mark Wilson, posted videos of the "build" on his 'About Me' page on the El Camino High School website.

Mahlia Schneck took top honors while launching with the Girl Scouts of Connecticut. Mahlia, who said, "I think the rocketry program will help my future because I learned how much fun science and rockets are." was involved through a STEM Summer Camp led by Program Initiatives Manager Ellyn Savard.

Three other winners -- Aidan Deighan, Jon Powell and Asia Starling -- will have the opportunity to celebrate at the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

Aidan Deighan competed at the Rocket Boys / October Sky Festival with author Homer Hickam and the original Rocket Boys giving the countdown. Teacher Henry Bobbin hosted, and Festival director Scott Hill said the news, "made his day and should stir interest in this year’s event."

Jon Powell was involved through the University of Central Florida's Camp Connect. "The goal of the camp is to encourage kids to become more interested and realize aims of becoming involved in the engineering field." Camp Coordinator Jennifer McDaniel led the camp this past summer.

Asia Starling scored the closest average landing among nearly 200 fellow competitors at Glenridge Middle School in the Summer Zone program run by the YMCA of Central Florida under director Joe Pizzarello. Randy Allen, Chairman of the Central Florida Section of AIAA (American Institute Aeronautics and Astronautics) was involved in every phase of the event -- even coaching the kids on launch day.

Two Astronauts -- Senator Bill Nelson and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana encouraged the kids in video clips prepared specially for the competitors. Celeste Brown from Senator Nelson's office attended the day's festivities. Photos of that event are available on YMCA of Central Florida's Facebook page.

The winners will have the opportunity to celebrate at Space Camp and launch rockets from Homer Hickam Field. They will get to stand beside the Saturn V and Space Shuttle, tour the US Space & Rocket Center and experience several space simulators -- walking on the moon in 1/6 gravity, doing zero-G repairs on the space station and piloting a Manned-Maneuvering-Unit (MMU).

All six national winners will be presented coins that commemorate the final flight of Space Shuttle Challenger. Christa McAuliffe's mother, Grace Corrigan will sign an insert that is presented with the coins, and everyone involved in the competition receives a certificate that bears Christa's likeness and her quote, "Push yourself as far as you can, Reach for the stars!"

The winners' celebrations could not have taken place without the help of corporate sponsors. Estes -- the world leader in educational rocketry, DNC Parks & Resorts at KSC, Inc., the US Space & Rocket Center / Space Camp, the Hampton Inn and Best Western have joined together to provide unforgettable memories for the six national winners. Without the generosity of these companies, this celebration would not be possible.

Author Homer Hickam and the original Rocket Boys will kick off the eighth annual Reach for the Stars -- National Rocket Competition at the October Sky Festival in Beckley, West Virginia. Competitions are already being held across the country, and local competitions can be held anytime throughout the year with a deadline at the end of June. For more details about the competition go to

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