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Colville High School’s rocket team soars into national finals

May 17, 2019 GMT

Before they could shoot for the moon, the rocketry team at Colville had to overcome a few earthly obstacles.

Last fall, it was a burn ban, followed quickly by rain and snow that lingered until April.

By then, science teacher Jim Christian and his team were down to their final chance to qualify for the national championships.

It came on April 8, the first day after spring break. In honor of the upcoming 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 – when Neil Armstrong stepped onto the moon’s surface, students were given a precise chore.

They had to build and fly a rocket carrying three “astronauts” – in the form of raw eggs – in a capsule that separates completely from the booster and climbs to an altitude of precisely 856 feet.


The eggs also had to return intact in 43 to 46 seconds.

The altitude is measured by an altimeter that rides onboard and penalty points are awarded for every foot that the rocket is under or over the target as well as penalties for the amount of time outside of the target time multiplied by four.

On their first attempt last fall, Christian recalled, the eggs returned all right – splattering the students as the rocket nosed into the ground.

“But the kids didn’t give up,” said Christian, who watched Team “Buzz” score a combined total of 29 with their third flight scoring an almost perfect 6 points as they flew to 850 feet and landed in 44 seconds.

Now it’s on to the Team America Rocketry Challenge on Saturday in northern Virginia. Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association. It will draw 101 teams.

The winner will compete next month in Paris for the world championship.

Colville’s team is the only qualifier from the Inland Northwest. Five teams from Bellevue and one from Kirkland also reached the nationals out of 873 teams that registered at the beginning of the year.

Colville also reached the national finals in 2006.

This year’s team includes captain Madelyn Holland and teammates Emily Bowlby, Kayden Bradfield, Ayden Combs, Cody Francis, Joey Knight, Aaron Lytle, Hunter Renfro and Tony Taber.

Fundraising is ongoing but all will make the trip “thanks to the generosity of the Colville School District,” Christian said.

“But we’d be very appreciative of any sponsorship from the community,” Christian said.

The team left Thursday morning.

The team will be very busy fundraising for this incredible opportunity to represent Colville and would be very appreciative of any sponsorship or support from the community.