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Top header showing image of Battle of the Rockets competition. This competition is for 7th and 8th graders.

S.T.E.A.M. Competition

JSerra Catholic High School and its Engineering Magnet Program (EMP) hosted a model rocket competition on Friday, November 30, 2018. 7th and 8th grade students enrolled at the following schools competed for scholarships to JSerra, trophies, and automatic acceptance into the EMP:

  • St. Mary
  • Mission Basilica
  • Our Lady Queen of Angels
  • Our Lady of Fatima
  • St. Junipero Serra
  • St. Francis of Assisi

2018 Winners

This year's winning team came from St. Mary's: 7th graders Georgia Jeanneret, Logan Mickelsen, and Calvin Howard. They received $5,000 off tuition annually for all four years of high school at JSerra.


The second place team came from St. Francis: 7th graders Jack Steinhart, Joshua Bacolod, Hayden Miller. They each received $2,500 off tuition per year.


The third place team came from St. Mary's: 8th graders Shawn Jahangiri, Rayan Gandhi, Jackson Ecker. They each received $1,250 off tuition per year.


Model rocketry was developed during the "space race" era.  Due to increased publicity in aerospace companies such as Space X, Virgin Galactic and NASA, there is an increased interest in hobbies related to aerospace.  Building and flying model rockets is a logical extension.  Students who have flown model rockets will have an increased understanding of the design requirements and forces for powered flight which will provide concrete examples when these topics are covered in their STEAM classes.

JSerra's model rocket contest is a unique competition that will be judged based on the criteria described in these tabs.

Each eligible school may enter one 7th grade team and one 8th grade team with a maximum of three students on each team.  These teams will be competing for pride, trophies, and academic scholarships offered by JSerra.

JSerra will supply each school with two rocket packages.  Each package will consist of all construction materials necessary to build and launch a model rocket.  Engines and recovery wadding will be supplied by JSerra on launch day.  Prior to launch day, each team’s rocket will undergo an aerodynamic stability test to determine its flight worthiness. Contest teams will use their own ingenuity to design and paint their rocket. 


The winner of the competition will be based on a combination of the rocket's performance and team's performance predictions of their rocket's behavior.  The team's score is based on the following:

  1. Altitude (30% of score):  Height will be determined at each launch.  This will consist of the average value of at least 2 measurements by made by at least two judges.
  2. Predicted Altitude (30% of score):  Teams will predict the altitude their rocket will fly.  Using the actual height determination and the team's predicted height, a percent difference value in predicted height versus actual height will be calculated.
  3. Predicted Time in the Air (30% of score):  Teams will predict the total time in the air of their rocket compared to its actual time in the air.  A percent difference value in predicted time in the air versus actual time in the air will be calculated.
  4. Space-X Return (10% of score):  Rockets will be scored based on how close they return to the launch pad.

Judges' decisions relating to safety, launch, tiebreakers, and final algorithm for scoring are final.

1st Place Prize - $20,000 Scholarship

Each team member will receive $5,000 off tuition per year for all 4 years of high school at JSerra along with automatic acceptance to the Engineering Magnet Program.

2nd Place Price - $10,000 Scholarship

Each team member will receive $2,500 off tuition per year for all 4 years of high school at JSerra along with automatic acceptance to the Engineering Magnet Program.

3rd Place Prize - $5,000 Scholarship

Each team member will receive $1,250 off tuition per year for all 4 years of high school at JSerra along with automatic acceptance to the Engineering Magnet Program.

Trophy - Best Design

The judges will award one rocket for best design and appearance. Creativity is highly encouraged! 


In order to qualify for the JSerra STEAM Championship, you must meet these requirements:

1. Each team must consist of students in 7th or 8th grade currently enrolled at one of these schools: St. Mary, Mission Basilica, Our Lady Queen of Angels, Our Lady of Fatima, St. Junipero Serra, or St. Francis of Assisi.
2. Each contestant must complete the JSerra Media Release.

JSerra Catholic High School may disqualify prior to or during competition any competitor who is not in compliance with any of its eligibility requirements; and it may require any competitor who is found to have not been in compliance with any of the eligibility requirements to forfeit the prizes accorded to the competitor as a result of participation in the competition.

Contest Rules

  1. All rockets must be submitted to the judges (Dr. Kilduff and Dr. Maffia) no later than November 27th. Stability and flightworthiness will be determined prior to launch day. Only approved rockets may be launched.

  2. Rocket set up and launch will be handled by JSerra. Student teams under the supervision of JSerra will be permitted to launch their rocket. Only team members are allowed near the rocket launch pads. Teams will be escorted to and from the launch area. Spectators will not be allowed near the launch area.

  3. Weather conditions will determine launch parameters. Parameters include launch direction and parachute area. Rockets will be equipped with 'A' class engines. All rockets start with an unaltered 12" parachute. Wind levels will determine size of parachute center hole. Cutting of parachute opening is optional in low level wind conditions. If moderately windy, all teams will be asked to cut a hole in their parachute. Contestants (not JSerra) will load recovery wadding and the parachute.

  4. The winning rocket must be able to withstand multiple launches. Only minor repairs can be made to a previously launched rocket. Repairs include: parachute tears; shock cord re-attachment and fin re-gluing. Other repairs are at the judges' discretion. Rockets that have been damaged and are not safe to fly will not advance to the next round regardless of their prior score. Judges have final discretion on whether the rocket can sustain another launch.

  5. There will be at least three launches to determine the winner. The top four rockets will be determined after the initial round of launches. In round two, the first-place rocket will compete against the fourth-place rocket and the second-place rocket will compete against the third-place rocket in a bracket style format. The two winners of this round will then go head to head in a final round to determine first and second place. Third place is determined by the third best score in round two.

  6. Prior to the second round of launches the top four teams can update their predicted launch values (altitude & time aloft). Values will be submitted to the judges in a timely fashion after the announcing of the top four rockets. The final two teams will also be able to update their predicated launch values before the championship launch.

Rocket Design Parameters

  1. Rockets will be constructed only from parts supplied by JSerra.
  2. Rockets may have 3, 4 or 5 stabilizer fins.
  3. Rockets with engine, parachute, and recovery wadding must pass a stability test.
  4. Rockets must be minimally rugged that they survive a minimum of 3 launches using an A class rocket engine.  Engine sizes will be determined by prevailing weather conditions.

Students are encouraged to purchase additional rockets for testing purposes. Rocket packages may be purchased at acsupplyco.com.


Check-in – Rockets Returned Teams: 11:00-11:15 a.m.
Rocket Walk-Around: 11:15-11:30 a.m.
Lunch: 11:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.
Launch Prep: 12:00-12:30 p.m.
Round 1 (launch all rockets): 12:30-12:00 p.m.
Round 2 (final four): 1:00-1:15 p.m.
Round 3 (finale): 1:15-1:30 p.m.   
Awards and Closing: 1:30-1:50 p.m.

Useful Videos

Below are a few YouTube videos that can provide helpful direction for those who have never built a rocket.








Dr. Blase Maffia
EMP/Science Teacher
949.493.9307 Ext. 7105

Chris Harrington
Admissions Director
949.493.9307 Ext. 1011



Learn more about this four-year program that prepares students for an engineering curriculum in college and future careers in engineering!