Northwest Yeshiva rocket team competes in Virginia

A team from Northwest Yeshiva High School competed in the Team America Rocketry Challenge, the world
A team from Northwest Yeshiva High School competed in the Team America Rocketry Challenge, the world's largest student rocket competition, on May 11, 2013. The team includes, from left to right, Peter Brodkin, physics teacher; students Itai Amon, Jessica Schwartz and Joel Jacobs; and Rabbi Benjy Owen, the dean of Judaic studies.
— image credit: Contributed Photo

Only two Washington state schools competed in the Team America Rocketry Challenge in Virginia last weekend, and Mercer Island's Northwest Yeshiva High School was one of them.

The NYHS team, which included students Jessica Schwartz, Itai Amon and Joel Jacobs, physics teacher Peter Brodkin and Rabbi Benjy Owen, placed 30th out of 100 teams. Their rocket reached 751 feet and descended in 40 seconds with a raw egg and 15-inch parachute intact.

The students set aside many Sunday afternoons and nights after school to develop their rocket.

The other Washington state team, from Skyline High School in Sammamish, placed 70th. The winning team was from Georgetown 4-H of Georgetown, Texas.

Northwest Yeshiva qualified for the competition by placing in the top 100 out of 725 teams in designing a rocket that would reach an altitude of 750 feet with a total flight time of 48 to 50 seconds.

The 11th annual rocketry challenge was held 50 miles west of Washington, D.C., at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va., on Saturday, May 11.

"As the only Jewish high school represented at the competition, we had some extra challenges to get us there as the challenge would take place on the Jewish Sabbath," Director of Advancement Melissa Rivkin wrote to the Reporter. "We are grateful to TARC for allowing us an accommodation to set up our rocket on Friday."

Northwest Yeshiva held a special assembly for the rocket team on Monday morning, May 13. According to a press release, Rabbi Owen spoke about how the group was able to celebrate and observe Shabbat in rural Virginia. When the team set up their rocket on Friday, it exceeded the weight limit — the scale at NYHS had been off. Before the Jewish Sabbath, the students had to shave pieces off of the core so that the rocket would be within the weight limit.

Begun to celebrate the 100th anniversary of flight, the contest is the largest student rocket competition in the world, according to the Aerospace Industries Association. Sponsors include the AIA and the National Association of Rocketry. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Defense Department, American Association of Physics Teachers and 34 AIA member companies are co-sponsors.

The winning team will attend the International Paris Air Show in June, and more than $60,000 in scholarships and prizes will be awarded to the top 10 teams.




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