OPHS Rocketry team reaches the stars

An insight on the inner workings of the class and creative process

One of the four Oak Park High School rocketry teams qualified for TARC National Finals, and will compete to be National Champion against 101 rocketry teams across the country. The winning team will earn a $100,000 prize and a trip to Paris. 

“Out of sheer luck and hard work, our team happened to be one of 101 teams, out of 800 teams from 45 states, to qualify for nationals. I am very grateful to have the opportunity to partake in such a prestigious and innovative class, which prompts youth towards the field of Aerospace Engineering,” junior and co-captain of the qualifying team Evan Chau said.

Other than building rockets for competition, some students on the OPHS Rocketry team build rockets to fulfill their own personal goals and explore their individual interests. 

“I’m also working on my level one certification rocket, which will allow me to launch high-powered rockets, which are rockets with higher-powered motors. This level one rocket is my own individual project, and there are a few others who are building their own as well,” junior and captain of one of the OPHS rocketry teams Aylan Nawabi said.

Rocketry is unlike other science, engineering and math courses some students choose to take in school. Rocketry is an innovative process where the mind and the body work in tandem to create a working product. 

“Rocketry, like robotics, is a great way for like-minded students to use their intuitive thinking outside a generic class setting, where one’s hands work alongside their mind. While math, science and physics are great on paper, rocketry allows students to not only think outside the box, but also take that box, fold it and launch it into the stars,” Chau said. 

Rocketry at Oak Park High School is an often overlooked art form; however, this program enriches the educational experience of students who are involved and gives them hands-on opportunities for learning.  

“I feel that a lot of students at OPHS don’t know about rocketry or what it is, but it is a really great experience to have under your belt and I think more people should get involved. I love being in rocketry because I enjoy working with my hands in the wood shop,” Nawabi said. “I’ve learned how to use multiple machines in the shop and have gained a lot of experience through this class.”

The OPHS Rocketry team is divided into smaller teams of about five students who work together to plan and build a rocket based off of requirements that a particular competition has. The team meets every Monday and Tuesday or Friday from 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the OPHS woodshop. They also meet outside of school on some occasions.

“We also go to Underwood Farms a couple weekends a month to launch and fly our TARC [The National Rocketry Challenge] rockets to see what we need to tweak or change on our rockets to make them better for the competition,” Nawabi said.