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Students’ rocket takes to the skies in competition

YOUNG scientists’ learning went off like a rocket as they battled for supremacy of the skies in a contest with real thrust.

The King’s Academy, Coulby Newham, fielded three teams of rocketeers in the UK Youth Rocketry Challenge.

One of the teams, Team Magic Turtle, came in second place in the national finals despite being grounded by terrible weather.

Instead, half of the final scores were based on qualification flights from the regional finals and half on a presentation given to the judging panels. Students’ engineering log books were also examined with the team just missing out on a trip to the Paris Air Show by only two points.

Organised by ADS, which represents and supports over 1,000 UK businesses operating in the aerospace, defence, security and space sectors, the competition was the culmination of six months of design, construction and testing.

In the regional finals The King’s Academy sixth formers travelled to Elvington Airfield, North Yorkshire, where they competed against 20 other schools and colleges with their 56mm diameter rockets.

Competitors were challenged to design and build a solid fuel rocket which had to climb to an altitude of 856ft and have a flight time of between 43 and 46 seconds, before parachuting back down to earth in two sections.

On board was a payload of a raw hen’s egg which must be returned to the ground in one piece, so the students also had to make a rocket with a shock-proof cargo bay.

Each team had three flights with the recorded data from the most successful two counting towards their overall score.

The annual challenge has run for the past 12 years and aims to promote teamwork, enterprise and science.

Head of physics at The King’s Academy Mike Shovlin said the Year 12 and 13 students had been working on the project during enrichment time on a Wednesday afternoon.

It had involved computer aided design, digital simulation, laser cutting, machining and 3D printing.

The students take responsibility for the whole project and during the finals teachers are not allowed to help them,” Mr Shovlin said. “The students have been great. They turn up every week and put in two hours of solid graft.

“Craftsmanship and design are very important as anything not perfectly aligned can send the rocket off in the wrong direction. They did a really great job to reach the finals and come within two points of going to Paris.”

Rocketeer Faith Pearson, 16, said:

It was amazing. The first flight went well but the flight time was too long so we had to add some weight to our rocket.”

Sixth former Milad Khajapoor, who joined The King’s Academy just three years ago after moving from Iran where he was unable to speak any English, added:

It went really well and we all enjoyed the competition. I love mechatronics and hope to study it at university one day with a view to working in robotics.”