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Students participate in STEM activities as part of 2019 Reach for the Stars Competition

To kick-off the Reach for the Stars event June 1 at the Hands-On Science Center in Tullahoma, AEDC Vice Director Edward Ayer provides opening remarks to the kids about the future of rocketry and why STEM is important. (Courtesy photo)

To kick-off the Reach for the Stars event June 1 at the Hands-On Science Center in Tullahoma, AEDC Vice Director Edward Ayer provides opening remarks to the kids about the future of rocketry and why STEM is important. (Courtesy photo)

One of the rockets that a student designed and built as part of Reach for the Stars event readies for take-off June 1. The Reach for the Stars event is an annual educational outreach program meant to provide a fun, hands-on learning opportunity for students. (Courtesy photo)

One of the rockets that a student designed and built as part of Reach for the Stars event readies for take-off June 1. The Reach for the Stars event is an annual educational outreach program meant to provide a fun, hands-on learning opportunity for students. (Courtesy photo)

ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- Area students spent a Saturday during their summer break to participate in a rocket launching competition called Reach for the Stars.

Members of the Tennessee Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Coffee County Airfoilers, volunteers from Arnold Air Force Base, and Olga Oakley, the Air Force Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Program director, organized the Reach for the Stars event for students ages 10-18 from across southern middle Tennessee. The competition was held June 1 at the Hands-On Science Center in Tullahoma.

To start the day’s activities, AEDC Vice Director Edward Ayer provided opening remarks and spoke to the kids about the future of rocketry and why STEM is important.

Then with the materials provided by the Air Force STEM program, area students designed and launched their rockets from the United Technologies Aerospace Systems field near the HOSC.

A winner was selected based on an average of the two launches closest to the target, which was marked 30 feet downrange from the launch pad. This year 11-year-old Aidan Floyd, from Tullahoma, won the competition with an average distance of 27 feet and 11 3/8 inches.

Oakley mentioned that the Reach for the Stars event is an annual educational outreach program meant to provide a fun, hands-on learning opportunity for students.

“The students get really excited every year for the Reach for the Stars competition and the opportunity to design and build their very own rockets and then watch as the rockets are launched,” she said. “The kids do a great job and put a lot of effort into their rockets. We want to thank all who participated and especially the volunteers for their help in making it a successful day.”