Middle School Rocketry Team Qualifies for TARC National Finals

For the first time ever, the Shady Side Academy Middle School Rocketry Team qualified for the Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) National Finals, which will be held at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va., outside Washington, D.C., on Saturday, May 13.

SSA is among 100 middle and high school teams across the country who qualified for nationals, and the only team from Western Pennsylvania to do so.

The TARC contest challenges teams to design, build and fly a rocket that can safely carry a raw egg to an altitude of 775 feet and safely return it to the ground in 41-43 seconds. Back in the fall, the Middle School team held its TARC qualifying launch in Grove City, Pa. By reaching an altitude of 770 feet and safely landing in 40.48 seconds, SSA placed among the top 100 teams in the country out of 812 entrants, qualifying for the national fly-off.

At the National Finals, as many as 42 teams will advance to a second round with new height and time requirements (800 feet and 42-44 seconds). Teams must rely on their knowledge of physics to adequately adjust their rockets on the fly in order to meet the new scoring parameters in an unfamiliar launch environment. Finalists will compete for more than $100,000 in prizes and scholarships and the opportunity to represent the United States at the International Rocketry Challenge at the Paris Air Show in June.

Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association, the National Association of Rocketry and more than 20 industry partners, TARC is the world's largest student rocketry contest. Since its inception in 2002, TARC has inspired more than 65,000 middle and high school students to explore careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This year, nearly 5,000 students representing 46 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands designed, built and launched rockets in hopes of qualifying for the National Finals. Learn more at

Congratulations to the Middle School team and its faculty coach, Matt Brunner. Good luck at nationals!

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