STARBASE Los Alamitos Marks Rocketry Program Milestone

JOINT FORCES TRAINING BASE LOS ALAMITOS, Calif. – STARBASE Los Alamitos celebrated a milestone this spring as both of its Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) teams launched qualifying rockets to vie for a place in the TARC national championship.

TARC is an international competition for teams of student rocketeers to test their knowledge of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in hands-on application during rocket design, construction and flight. To qualify for a chance in the national competition, teams must safely and successfully complete two payload-carrying rocket flights – out of three official launches – which are scored against predetermined competition guidelines for flight duration, altitude and other metrics.

STARBASE Los Alamitos, as part of its after-school STARBASE 2.0 program, fielded its first TARC team as a trial in 2016. The program tried again in 2017, but lost one rocket to an explosion and only recorded one of the two qualifying launches needed to apply for the national competition.

That all changed this year.

STARBASE Los Alamitos fielded two teams in the 2018 competition. Named “O.C. to D.C.” and “Fire Boltz,” both teams consisted of Orange County area homeschoolers who are in middle school grades and registered in the county’s Community Home Education Program.

With seven months of preparation logged and the competition window open, both teams took to the field at Joint Forces Training Base, Los Alamitos, March 28-29, 2018, to make their official contest launches. Unfavorable winds forced the teams to push into a second launch day.

“Did we make it? That’s what’s running through my head right now,” said Adam Abed, an eighth grader on team Fire Boltz, after the team’s promising and successful second launch.

“I’m just speechless right now,” Abed said. “If we make it, it will be three years put to good use.”

After scores were submitted, the top 100 teams in the country received an invitation to the national competition in Washington.

Fire Boltz missed the top 100 by two points, but they hit the program’s goal right on target.

“The main goal is to get kids interested in aerospace, and they are,” said California State Military Reserve Chief Warrant Officer 2 Stacey Hendrickson, who directs STARBASE Los Alamitos. “The short-term goal is to get to D.C., but the long term goal is for them to have a career.”
The program is working.

“This (rocketry) isn’t something you experience all the time,” said Madison Nash, a third-year TARC competitor on team O.C. to D.C. “I wasn’t into this before, but now it’s what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be an engineer.”

The teams and STARBASE Los Alamitos are already making plans for next year’s competition.

“They’re going to keep doing it,” Hendrickson said, “and they’ll eventually make it.”

The California Military Department’s Youth and Community Programs Task Force operates two DoD STARBASE locations in the state. STARBASE takes a “hands-on, minds-on” approach to exposing youth – primarily fifth graders – to STEM subjects through immersive and exploratory curriculum. The nationwide program focuses on serving student populations that are historically under-represented in STEM.


Posted July 2018

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