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Team America Rocketry Challenge Featured at White House Science Fair

Each year, about 7,000 students from middle and high schools across the nation compete in the Team America Rocketry Challenge. Each team designs, builds, flies, and tests a model rocket that must reach a specific altitude and duration as determined by a set of rules which change each year. Teams make test flights to qualify for the finals which are held each May in Washington. DC.  The top 100 teams are invited to the national finals which awards prizes including $60,000 in cash and scholarships split between the top ten finishers.

Teams of students from Presidio, Texas, have made it to the TARC finals in 2009, 2010 and 2011.  Although Presidio is one of the poorest areas in Texas, teachers and the community came together to help the students make the trips to Washington. And, in February of 2012, members of the Presidio High School Rocketry Team made another trip to Washington. They attended the White House Science Fair and met President Obama.

“[…] Teachers cooked food to sell after church, supporters drove 200 miles to pick up donuts for bake sales, they even raffled off a goat … just so they could raise enough money for the rocketry team to compete,” said the President. “For some of you, the journey you took to get here is just as inspiring as the work that you brought with you today.”

Janet Nieto, Ana Karen Nieto, and Gwynelle Condino represented the Presidio High School Rocketry Team at the White House Science Fair.  Janet and Ana attend Presidio High School.  Gwynelle, still in seventh grade and a student at Lucy Franco Middle School, is the leader of the TARC team this year.

Meeting the President, the girls introduced themselves and showed him some of their rockets.  A yellow rocket decorated with cherry blossoms caught the president’s attention. “I’ve gotta say though, this is not a tough-looking rocket with the flowers and birds and stuff,” Obama said, “It’s beautiful. You just don’t usually see rockets this pretty.”

After discussing the challenges the girls faced competing in TARC, Obama said, “Well you guys inspire me. And you couldn’t be better presenters. You are going to be very successful.”

The Presidio High School Rocketry Team has also participated in NASA’s Student Launch Initiative.


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