The one thing Taylor Goodwin didn’t like about her model rocket was its loud blastoff.
But when she learned she had won the Reach for the Stars Rocket Contest, a nationwide model rocket competition, the noise was nearly as deafening.
“I’m not sure I could still hear out of that ear the way she was screaming,” said Clay Goodwin, Taylor’s father.
The 9-year-old’s rocket landed the closest to a target placed 20 feet away, beating out her Penrose Elementary classmates as well as every other competitor in her age group.
“I’ve been really interested in making things, but I’ve never done it before,” said Taylor, beaming. “I’ve never made things explode.”
The top finish earned her family a visit to the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. On Aug. 1 and 2 she’ll tour the Astronaut Hall of Fame, receive a trophy and take a simulated shuttle ride into orbit.
Michael March, her third grade teacher, held the local contest to hook his students on science, especially those who learn better by doing.
“You’re teaching each kid, giving them an opportunity to learn in a different way,” March said.
Taylor and her class assembled the rockets during the last week of school in May, attaching the nosecones and fins and carefully folding and inserting the parachute. The rockets were buffeted by high winds, but Taylor altered the angle and timing of her launch, which combined with a bit of good luck for the win.
For Taylor’s 50-year-old father, Clay, the win brings back memories of the model rockets he launched and chased down as a boy. The Apollo space program made everyone want to be an astronaut, he said, and he dreamed of landing on the moon. Now his daughter Taylor says she wants to go to Jupiter — or at least on a commercial shuttle flight.
“Who knows?” Clay replied. “Maybe in your lifetime there will be a chance to do that.”
Forty years after the first moonwalk, March said his students are still fascinated by lessons about planets and space exploration.
“Space is one of those things in life — ‘What is up there?’” March said. “It’s always a question for everyone.”
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