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JSerra Hosts Battle of the Rockets Competition for 7th Graders
Small model rocket that is handpainted blue and gold and says GO MONARCHS vertically along the body.

JSerra Catholic High School hosted a model rocket contest for 7th graders last Thursday, Nov. 11. This annual competition is a STEM showcase for JSerra’s Engineering Magnet Program (EMP). Participating schools included St. Edward the Confessor, St. Anne, St. John's Episcopal, Stoneybrooke, St. Mary, Our Lady Queen of Angels, Mission Basilica, Our Lady of Fatima, and St. Geneva.

For the competitors, the competition was an opportunity to gain real-world engineering experience with the possibility of winning a coveted prize -- including scholarships (and automatic acceptance to the EMP) and trophies. Each school was allowed to enter one team consisting of a maximum of three students. JSerra supplied each school with a rocket package containing all construction materials necessary to build and launch a model rocket. Engines and recovery wadding were supplied by JSerra on launch day. All rockets were examined to determine their flight worthiness. Teams used their own ingenuity to design and paint their rockets.

Zac O'Leary, whose Stoneybrooke team was the 2nd place winner, said, "The competition was really fun and exciting. We did a lot of testing and learned about rockets and how changes to the parachute, the way it is folded, and weight affect the way a rocket flies and comes back down. I also had a lot fun with my team.”

His father, Shawn O'Leary, added, "Although we were very blessed to place second, the true reward came in seeing the learning process the students went through, the failures they encountered, and the work they did to find practical solutions. These learned skills and their increased confidence will prove valuable in their future endeavors. Hats off to JSerra, all of the volunteers, and the Engineering Magnet program for putting on such a fun program.”

Congratulations to this year's winners:

  • 1st place: Mission Basilica's Nicholas DeMaria, Christine Hernandez, and Charlie Allen
  • 2nd place: Stoneybrooke's Jaden McKinstry, Barrett Mills, and Zac O'Leary
  • 3rd place: Our Lady Queen of Angels' James Kashi, Jack Burke, and Brayden Castro

"Each year it's exciting to hear the crowd be awestruck and cheer as a tiny Estes Alpha rocket ignites and lifts off into the clear skies," said EMP and Science Teacher Blase Maffia. "A friendly competition among middle schoolers is a great way to end a few weeks of learning about and building rockets. If this inspires young women and men to go into engineering and science, that’s an added bonus."

Three 7th grade girls and 3 7th grade boys pose together smiling and holding a model rocket.