Hundreds of Girl Scouts Reach for the Stars in National Rocket Competition

Press Release From: Reach for the Stars
Posted: Friday, August 5, 2011

image Photo: National Winner, Michelle Jorgensen (with trophy) is congratulated by author, Homer Hickam (Rocket Boys, October Sky) at the Challenger Learning Center of Colorado

Michelle Jorgensen from Colorado, was the first Girl Scout to win nationally in the Reach for the Stars ~ Rocket Competition. She competed in 2009 with Troop #337 at the Challenger Learning Center of Colorado under Competition host Tracey Tomme. She was followed in 2010 by Azriel Clary who competed during a camp-in lead by Pathway Collaborations Manager, Patricia Hemenway with the Girl Scouts of West Central Florida.

Actually - there have been three Girl Scout national winners. Taylor Goodwin competed with her class at Penrose Elementary School, Penrose, Colorado under teacher, Michael March. But, she got word that she was a national winner on her way to Girl Scout summer camp.

Michelle accepted her trophy from famed author Homer Hickam (Rocket Boys / October Sky) while wearing her uniform. Both Azriel and Taylor received their trophy at the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and celebrated with their families at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. All national winners get the chance to launch their winning rocket from a place of historic significance. According to the Competition co-directors, Jack and Kathy Colpas, "The celebration and launch give the national winners memories to last a lifetime and bragging rights for generations to come." (see photos)

Spurred on by these national wins, Girls Scouts across the country have turned out to compete in the fifth annual Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition. Thanks to Program Initiatives Coordinator, Ellyn Savard and a STEM education grant, over 100 Girl Scouts from Connecticut were involved in this year's Competition.

While enrolled in 3d Annual STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Math) Summer Camp held on the grounds of Georgia Southern University, the Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia culminated their activities by entering the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition. Tripoli Atlanta - Rocket Club members Joanna and Burl Finkelstein and their two children; Jake and Sam assisted Scout Leader, Cheryl Hecker in preparing the girls for the Competition.

With the annual deadline looming - competitions were wrapping up in Arizona and Nevada. The Sahuaro Girl Scout Council (SGSC) in Southern Arizona involved girls from the Pascua Yaqui Tribe in the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition and other STEM activities. STEM Manager, Michelle Higgins states, "Through this competition, I believe our participants will gain basic skills which include the knowledge of building and launching their very own rocket while at the same time, developing the confidence to succeed in what most view as a male dominated field of engineering."

Funding from the National Girls Collaborative Project, the Gammons Charitable Foundation and the Florida Space Grant Consortium helped bring the Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition to Girl Scouts in across the nation. All three organizations are involved with programs that foster STEM education.

The Competition is an integral part of the Helping Kids Reach for the Stars program which is an Educational Outreach of the Christa McAuliffe ~ Challenger Learning Center. As this is 25th year since Space Shuttle Challenger's final mission and Christa McAuliffe was considered a life-long Girl Scout - it seems fitting that so many Girl Scouts would be reaching for the stars in her memory.

Jack Colpas co-director
Reach for the Stars ~ National Rocket Competition
(941) 955-3958

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