Submitted by: Bob Ekman
Explorer Post 1010 is engaged in four national engineering programs – The American Rocketry Challenge, FIRST Tech Challenge Robotics, Botball Educational Robotics, and the UAS4STEM Drone Competition. In 2021, we worked through the pandemic and did very well in all four programs. Our robotics teams scored among the top teams, but our rocketry and drone teams were at the at the top nationally. The tenacity of the teams through many long months of the pandemic has proved to be their strength. Add to that the dedication of several adult leaders in providing the logistics so the teams could meet and succeed in their challenge.
Bob Ekman is the over-all advisor for Post 1010. Tom May, aided by his wife Beth May, are the mentors for the drone team. Vince Camobreco is a mentor for the rocketry team. Neal Perkins is a mentor for the FIRST robotics team. Bob is also the mentor for the Botball team.
Post 1010 has been active since 1997, with hundreds of teen passing through the program. We currently have about 34 registered members. They do well every year, but this year has been extraordinary.
The American Rocketry Challenge
Explorer Post 1010 registered three teams in the 2020 The American Rocketry Challenge (TARC). The main web site is https://rocketcontest.org/. The challenge is to fly to a specific altitude and then descend to the ground in a specific total flight time. We also had to carry a large raw egg and not receive any cracks. We started with experiments focused on the challenge in the fall of 2019. We recruited several new members for 2020 and designed and built our competition rockets. We started testing our rockets during the winter of 2020.
Then the pandemic hit and we suspended the program until September 2020. We used the same 2020 challenge for 2021, but dropped one of our teams because we lost several seniors. By May 17, 2021, both teams completed three qualification flights with scores low enough to be invited to the national fly-off in June. The finals are for the top 100 teams from the 615 registered teams across the US.
Our teams traveled to the Great Meadow field in The Plains, VA, on June 13. They both successfully completed two flights. The first one to 775 feet and descent time between 39 and 42 seconds. The second one to 825 feet and descent time between 41 and 44 seconds. Our first team had two flights that were almost perfect, getting a score of 3 and 5 for a combined score of 8. The second team had good altitude scores, but descended a little too fast. At an on-line ceremony on June 28, the first team was ranked 2nd place nationally and awarded $17,000. They lost to a team in Oregon that scored 7.7. Our second team was ranked 42nd.
UAS4STEM Drone Competition
Explorer Post 1010 registered a teams in the 2020 UAS4STEM drone competition. While we started preparing for the spring and summer competition, the pandemic caused us to delay until 2021. In the challenge, the team must fly their drone both autonomously and remote controlled. They needed to find several targets which are out of site from the team, and then drop water balloons filled with paint on the target.
In April, our team made an on-line presentation which was rated highly and gave them an invitation to the national competition. The national competition was held in conjunction with the AirVenture Fly-In festival at Oshkosh WI in August 2021. Our team competed with a dozen other teams from across the nation. They gave another impressive presentation and successfully performed their flight operations, hitting the targets several times. At the festival in August, they were awarded first place nationally and $2,500.