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TRINITY, Ala. (WHNT) — The sixth and eighth grade Rocketry Club from West Morgan Middle School is participating in a national rocket-building competition this weekend.

The American Rocketry Challenge is taking place in northern Virginia on May 14th, 2022. One hundred teams from 27 states qualified for the National Finals.

Six of those 100 teams hail from Alabama. Five of the six Alabama teams are from North Alabama.

  • West Morgan Middle School, Trinity, AL
  • Tharptown High School, Russellville, AL
  • Russellville High Schools, Russellville, AL
  • Muscle Shoals High School, Muscle Shoals, AL
  • Colbert County 4-H, Tuscumbia, AL
  • Lincoln High School, Lincoln, AL

News 19 stopped by West Morgan Middle School on Thursday, as they were testing their two rockets.

The first launch…was anti-climatic. Students ran the countdown and hit the go button and the rocket stayed put. After some adjustments, the students had a successful launch.

The club sponsor, science & social studies teacher, Alex Toll, said running tests and learning from them is what it is all about. “Failure is always an option, you always learn from that failure,” he said.

After recovering the first rocket which flew more than 850 feet into the air in under 50 seconds, the students prepared to launch the second rocket. The second rocket was another successful launch.

News 19 spoke with two of the students who are part of the club. Eighth-grader Mason Mitchell said he’s learned a lot from being in the club. “I’ve learned how to do just about anything with rockets, I had no experience really, until I got here,” he said.

Sixth-grader Hudson Cole, said the team uses a computer program that helps them along the building process. “We started off on Open Rocket by just playing out and seeing how it predicted how high the rockets would go,” Cole said.

Students getting the second rocket ready for launch.

According to club sponsor, Mr. Toll, there were actually so many seventh grade students interested in rocket building, that they have their own club, separate from the sixth and eighth-graders.

Each rocket is equipped with a parachute system to slow down the rocket as it comes back down. The rockets also have eggs on board, to represent astronauts. Part of the national competition requires the rocket to make it back down to the ground with the eggs intact.

The grand prize winners of the National Finals will take home $100,000 in prizes and the title of National Champion, which includes an all-expense-paid trip to London for the International Finals.