For Immediate Release
August 5, 2010 from Martin Spinelli, Interaction Media

Martin Spinelli, EMMY Award-winning director-producer and President of Interaction Media, is developing a documentary with PBS station WQED about rocket clubs, its impact on rocket science, and the effects of rocket clubs on education, its members, and their careers. He has been following the Penn Manor Rocket Club students’ progress for a year. E-mail mjspin@mac.com or continue to visit our web site for updates www.interactionmedia.com

Documentary Crew Follows Winning Rocket Club Team to London Launch

The Winning Penn Manor Rocket Club
The Winning Penn Manor Rocket Club (foreground) and the French and United Kingdom teams (standing).

The Penn Manor Rocket Club, U.S. National Champions, won first place at the renowned Farnborough International Air Show outside of London. Interaction Media, in conjunction with WQED Multimedia, a prominent PBS affiliate, is developing a documentary about rocket clubs and brought their cameras to the international competition. On July 23, 2010, the team from Lancaster, PA scored highest over teams from the U.K. and France. They also got to enjoy the spectacular flights of the latest aircraft over Farnborough and a whirlwind tour of the City of London.

What begins as educational science club becomes a thrilling experience for all rocket teams that qualify for the national and international championship. On Saturday May 15th, 2010, the Team America Rocket Challenge (TARC) organization brought one hundred competing rocket club teams from all over the U.S. to The Plains, Virginia. The scene was replete with parents, teachers, mentors, National Association of Rocketry (NAR) volunteers, aeronautical exhibits and picnics spread across the Great Meadow of a race course turned launch pad. Mr. Scott Donnelly, CEO of Textron Inc. and Chairman of the Aeronautical Industry Association that sponsors the TARC program, addressed the challenges of promoting more science and math graduates in the U.S.

Rocket club students work long hours from September to May prepping for the nationals, designing their rockets with software simulations on school computers, ordering up the parts they think work best, assembling the models, and having several test launches and events before they are ready to qualify for the TARC competition. TARC gives them specific rules for competition. This year an uncooked egg had to be carried up 825 feet by a student designed rocket, and return to earth unbroken within a specific time frame. NAR officials score and rank the launches.

Four teams from the Lancaster, PA area, all members of the Penn Manor Rocket Club, qualified for the TARC national meet. Mr. Brian Osmolinski, a physics teacher and director of the club said that Penn Manor has been successfully competing for 6 years at TARC events, but this year Penn Manor took both the top and second prize. He credits the kids, their parents, and the hardworking mentors for the focused work that has taken two of his teams to the winner’s circle. Joking with the press, Mr. Osmolinski also gives kudos to the corn fields of Pennsylvania that surround the Penn Manor public schools.

The four winning team members from Penn Manor are each planning college programs that will take them into science related careers. Rocket club members experience the practical aspects of math and science first hand, and many alumni return to mentor youngsters just entering the clubs. This kind of enthusiasm is just what the TARC organization planned–a competition that helps spark genius and introduces more science educated graduates into the work force.