The students Left to right are:

Chris Ely, Cris Mares, Lukas Puryear, Montana Holton, Nick Tovar, Wyatt Puryear, Gunner Gordon, Bode Slayton, and Gary Strickland.

Coleman, TX — The Scientific Research and Design students from Coleman High School have qualified to compete in the national finals of the 20th Annual Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC). The team will face off against 99 other top qualifying teams from across the United States to claim the title of National Champion.  A total of 724 teams competed to qualify for the national contest.  The Coleman team is one of only 14 teams from Texas to advance. The TARC finals will take place on May 14th at Great Meadow in The Plains, Va., outside of Washington D.C.

TARC is the U.S. aerospace and defense industry’s flagship program designed to encourage students to study and pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The competition challenges middle and high school students to design, build and fly a rocket to meet specific altitude and flight duration parameters. This year's rules require a rocket carrying two raw eggs (both horizontal) to an altitude of 835 feet and return them to Earth uncracked within 41 to 44 seconds.

This is the second time that Coleman High school has qualified for nationals in the TARC competition. The CHS rocketry club was formed nine years ago as a part of the federally funded ACE after school program at Coleman ISD. Students learn the engineering design cycle and launch 25-35 flights per year.

The team is comprised of eight members. Six senior members are are Lukas Puryear, Wyatt Puryear, Chris Ely, Nick Tovar, Montana Holton, and Cris Mares. Two juniors members are Bode Slayton and Gunner Gordon.  The team will be competing for more than $100,000 in prizes and scholarships, and the opportunity to represent the United States at the International Rocketry Challenge taking place in London at the International Air Show in June. (more information below)

CHS physics teacher and TARC mentor, Gary Strickland, has worked with these students throughout high school.  Strickland said, “These students are a very special group. This is what education should look like as students energize the course through their passion and curiosity. I just guide them. They have flown in weather as cold as 11 degrees to test their rockets.”

Sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Association, the National Association of Rocketry and 27 industry partners, TARC is the world’s largest student rocketry contest. Since its inception, TARC has inspired more than 60,000 middle and high school students to further explore the possibilities of a career in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). This year, close to 800 teams designed and built model rockets in hopes of qualifying for the national finals.

For more information about TARC 2016, please visit