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They're not called the Spring Grove Rockets for nothing.

Students from Spring Grove Area High School's rocketry teams have been hard at work designing and building their rockets for the NASA Student Launch Initiative, which culminates in a final launching of rockets in April at NASA Flight Headquarters in Huntsville, Alabama.

The Spring Grove teams — Team Tesla and Team Darwin —  will join 54 colleges and high schools from 22 different states this spring as the only Pennsylvania high school to qualify.The initiative requires teams to design, build, test, launch and recover a reusable rocket and payload to an altitude of 5,280 feet.

The teams are currently in the process of building their scientific payloads — cargo or an experiment of sorts — for their rockets. Team Darwin will take a biological approach, while Team Tesla will be inspired by physics.

Team Darwin intends to cut planaria flatworms — which have the ability to regrow and replace lost and damaged tissue — in half and put them in the rocket to test how the acceleration of flight affects the regeneration rate of the worms. Team Tesla, on the other hand, is designing a rocket to test the rate at which airflow through a turbine will generate a current. Air will enter the nosecone of the rocket on takeoff, and turn a turbine to generate electricity during its ascent.

Fundraising: The teams, however, aren't responsible for only building their rockets, they must also raise upwards of $26,000 to cover all the costs.

"Our original estimate was $26,000 for a budget, but we might need to raise a bit more than that as the 5,280-foot mark is proving to be elusive this year, meaning we will need additional practice launches ... " said physics teacher and team adviser Brian Hastings in an email.

Students have already raised about $20,000 with the help of grants and donations as well as fundraisers, Hastings said.

Spring Grove Area High School will be hosting a paint night next month with all funds raised to benefit the rocketry teams.

The event, which is scheduled to run from 6 to 8 p.m. in the high school's cafeteria on March 24, will include a step-by-step tutorial from an experienced art instructor that will allow participants to create a painting they're proud of. Participants will be painting a sunset on the water front, and no experience is required.

The cost for the event is $40 and all materials, including paint, easels and canvases, will be provided. Snacks, coffee and iced tea will be available for purchase.

The deadline to register for the event is March 17 and those with questions may contact Renee Bosak at bosakr@sgasd.org.

Rocket updates: Teams Tesla and Darwin have two more practice launches scheduled before they make their trip to Huntsville, Hastings said. The teams successfully launched both rockets during their first series of test-launches earlier this month.

Students also recently completed the Critical Design Review, which entailed submitting reports to NASA as well as an oral presentation, Hastings said, noting they have another report and presentation coming up mid-March.

"Lastly, the team is currently preparing for the educational engagement requirement where they will have a presentation for seventh-graders and then hold rocket building workshops for those interested," Hastings said. "The goal of the educational engagement piece is to spread interest in STEM with students in the middle school prior to them coming to the high school."

For more opportunities to support the rocketry teams visit their website at http://springgroverocketry.weebly.com. Those who wish to donate can also do so on their GoFundMe page.

Reach Jessica Schladebeck at jschladebeck@yorkdispatch.com.  

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