Hanging out with Spring Grove’s Rocket Scientists

After school ended on Tuesday, Brian Hastings’ classroom was still buzzing with activity.

Some students were prepping for the Science Olympiad, to be held at Millersville University on Saturday. Others prepared rockets for launching to enter the Team America Rocketry Challenge.

The students are Spring Grove Area High School’s Rocket Scientists. More than 60 students make up the science team, according to Hastings.

Spring Grove Area High School students Luke Walko and Veer Pandya work on their rocket.

They compete in numerous science competitions, including the rocket challenge, Science Olympiad, VEX Robotics Challenge, Penn State’s bridge building competition, Physics Olympics at Dallastown Area High School, and the Envirothon, to name a few.
Some students compete in many events, and others choose one or two.

Participating in the science competitions allows the kids a chance to have some creativity and engage in learning opportunities that might not be possible in the classroom, Hastings said.

It’s also good for career opportunities – aerospace companies will be attending the national level of the rocket competition, he said.

“They’re trying to get more students going into those fields,” he said.

Senior Jon Pirkey said he likes entering the rocket challenge each year because it’s always different.

“I’m going to go to college for aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, so it’s kind of cool,” he said.

Hastings said the Rocket Scientists enter more competitions than typical in other high schools. Many other schools focus on one or two events.

The Rocket Scientists team has grown during its eight years in existence, he said, noting that the team’s success in events has encouraged more to join.

Here’s some video of the students launching rockets on Tuesday afternoon. The top 100 teams in the Team America Rocketry Challenge will head to the national level, where they’ll have a chance to win a portion of $60,000 in scholarships and prizes, Hastings said.


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Being a rocket scientist isn’t cheap, and the Rocket Scientists have to deal with budget crunches just like all of the other academic clubs. Click here to see how you can help.

About Angie Mason

I'm the education reporter at the York Daily Record. Follow me on Twitter: @angiemason1
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