Student rocket-builders join top STEM leaders at White House Science Fair


Participants in world's largest rocket contest showcase designs for President Obama

Arlington, Va. -- President Obama highlighted the efforts of team members, teachers and parents from a Presidio, Texas, school that worked to raise funds to participate in the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) contest in remarks at the second White House Science Fair. Lauding the initiative and creativity of all the students at the fair, the president mentioned that the Presidio High School team, from one of the poorest school districts in Texas, had even sold a goat as part of its fundraising efforts. The fair celebrates student winners from a broad range of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) competitions from across the country.

Gwynelle Condino, Ana Karen Nieto and Janet Nieto from Presidio High School along with Landon Fisher, national 2011 champion from Rockwall-Heath High School, had their rockets in hand to show President Obama what was required to build a rocket to meet the demanding specifications of the Team America Rocketry Challenge.

"We are so pleased TARC students have the opportunity to exhibit their great work alongside some of the country's most talented young minds in STEM," said Marion C. Blakey, president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association, TARC's primary sponsor. "I know the kids were thrilled to get the recognition from the president. From our perspective, the science fair aligns directly with our goals to create a workforce development model for our industry and other related sectors."

As part of the 2012 competition, TARC teams must design and build a rocket carrying a two-egg payload to 800 feet and back during a 43- to 47-second flight without cracking the eggs. A strict limit on liftoff weight forces students to focus on designing the payload bay while building a lighter, stronger rocket. The top 100 teams will advance to the National Finals on May 12 at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va.

Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association, the National Association of Rocketry and more than 30 industry partners, TARC aims to inspire middle and high school students to pursue further study and careers in STEM. To date, more than 50,000 students have participated in the event. This year marks the competition's 10th anniversary and features 700 teams from 48 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.

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