MOHAVE VALLEY — The inaugural Rockets Over Mohave competition launched Thursday morning at Mohave Valley Junior High School, with three local schools showing off their skills with Estes Alpha Rocket models.

Almost all grade levels were represented between contestants representing the Academy of Building Industries, MVJHS and Topock Elementary School.

Despite some wind, about half a dozen rockets per school were launched into the sky above the junior high school’s football field.

While the craft were airborne, students used specialized tools to measure the height of each rocket launch.

“We’re checking the altitude and just having a good time,” said Cale Evelyn Anne Nelson, AOBI freshman. “My experience was really good. I enjoyed creating our rockets and placing them up.”

Per calculations based on the student data, AOBI had the highest launch at 588 feet, with a total of 2,108.8 feet of launch height in total. The average launch height for the high school was 351.5 feet.

MVJHS had a high launch of 475.8 feet. They had a total of 950.8 feet of launch height in total and an average launch height of 158.5 feet.

Topock’s fifth graders had a high launch of 248.5 feet, with a total of 840.8 feet of launch height. The Topock average launch height was 140.1 feet.

Fifth grader Carolina Galavis was excited to show off the aftermath of her rocket’s launch.

“The last time we fired off was practice. I fixed (an issue) with the parachute,” Galavis said, then pointed to specific parts in her disassembled craft to explain the specifics.

Evidently, two parts had been too tight in practice but launched successfully (along with the parachute) during the actual competition.

“I think I did pretty good,” Galavis said.

Each school competed in their own division — high school, middle school and elementary school — so, technically all three won first place.

“We’re trying to do our own judging in such a way that all students leave with confidence,” said David Huggins, MVJHS aeronautics instructor.

However, the divisions serve another goal: to expand the competition next year by inviting as many local schools as possible, including those in Laughlin and Needles.  

The genesis for the competition came from AOBI, who issued a rocket challenge to all local schools during the summer.

By all accounts, principal Charlotte Hansen and assistant principal Hailey Moss didn’t hesitate to accept. Evidently, Topock joined into the fun romp as well.

AOBI came prepared: the school undertook a nine-week curriculum based around the film “October Sky” (1999), based on the true story of NASA engineer Homer Hickam.

“The whole school is involved today,” AOBI Superintendent Jean Thomas said.

The event had barely ended before Huggins and Thomas started planning the next big competition between the school — tentatively involving drones.

Huggins said he hoped the rocket competition would help break down barriers between local schools and provide more educational opportunities for students.

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