To Infinity and Beyond – Tehachapi Style

Excitement, enthusiasm, and enjoyment filled the air yesterday at the Tehachapi Airport.

Over 700 elementary and middle school students came, for one thing, to see their rockets take flight.

The students all came to together to celebrate weeks of their hard work. Since April, they have been participating in the Art, Science & Technology Educational (AST) Intermediate Space Challenge and Race Communications was there to cheer them on.

The Intermediate Space Challenge (ISC), started back in 2010 and is a program designed to capture youthful imagination about space and energize their interest in the engineering, mathematics, and Science career fields.

The ISC focuses on 4th and 5th grade, engaging them in a team effort to build a model rocket, write about their thoughts on space exploration, learn about rocket propulsion principles, and participate in a launch day event at Tehachapi Municipal Airport.

The challenge grades students on their banner designs, essay, and rocket flight.

Globally, of the 40 most advanced countries, the United States ranks No.38 when it comes to graduating science majors according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

While Americans scientist still publish more papers than their international counterparts, not nearly enough students are graduating with degrees in the STEM field to keep up with the rest of the world.

But, yesterday was different.

“We’re living in such an awesome time that you guys will be shaping the future,” said Marie Walker, an AST Volunteer and MC of the event.

Hand-crafted, colorful banners with team names such as the “NASA Brats,” “Space Warriors” and the “Super Momma Birds” all eagerly waited for their rockets to take flight.

Purple glittered and American flag rockets were a few of the 29 one-of-kind designs that lined the skies. The cone-shaped rockets were mostly made out of cardboard and plastic and have an average height of about 350 feet of air time.

Before every rocket that took flight, there was a countdown and some teams even prepare a special cheer for their design. With every rocket launched, it ended with an “ooh and ah” from the energetic crowd.

“This has been a great tradition and addition to our children’s curriculum for the past 7 years,” said Jim Miller, Product Development, RaceTV. “We hope to be a part of this event for many years to come.”