Jamie Forzato, wtop.com
CLARKSVILLE, Md. - Building rockets may seem like a teenage boy's hobby, but a group of high school girls are giving the boys a run for their money.
Jasmyn Logan and Nia'mani Robinson, two freshmen from Central High School in Capitol Heights, Md., are finalists in this Saturday's Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) - the largest student rocket competition in the world. They call themselves "Team Rocket Power," and they are the only African American all-girls team to qualify.
"People keep telling us this isn't something that girls usually do. And we're like, ‘Really? Because apparently we're really good at it!" said Robinson.
Led by their mentor Kevin Johnson, they launched their last practice flights in Clarksville, Md. Sunday. The 14-year-olds have been working on their prototypes since September.
"People think about model rockets and engineering as a man's game or a boys' game," Johnson says. "But the girls are powerhouses. They are learning all the aspects of engineering."
The challenge requires each team to launch a rocket to a minimum of 750 feet, hang in the air for 48 to 50 seconds, and safely return a raw, unbroken egg back to Earth. The quality of the launch varies with changing temperatures and wind speeds.
Sometimes the girls' rocket hung in the air long enough, but did not reach its maximum altitude, or it approached 750 feet but fell quickly.
"We're testing them to see if we need to change anything like add weight or take away weight to make them go higher," Logan says. "We're hoping today we can balance it. So we're close," said Robinson.
Competition winners receive $60,000 and a trip to the International Paris Air Show in June, but these girls say they're in it for the science.
"I think it's very interesting to build the rocket and even if you don't win it still was a good experience," said Logan.
"I think it will look good on college applications," added Robinson.
These budding rocket scientists are shooting for lofty goals for their future too.
Logan wants to be in the medical field.
"Of course you strive for the highest schools - like Harvard, Yale, places like that. If not, I would like to go to Salisbury University."
Robinson has always wanted to be either an architect or a journalist.
"I want to go to the Ivy League schools too. If I didn't do that, I would want to go to the University of Maryland. They have a really good architecture program there," she said.
The national finals in The Plains, Va. on May 11 is free to the public.
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