Local outreach events

In our quest to engage local youth in STEAM, we attend and host many events to showcase rocketry and interest local youth in STEAM. Our outreach events include launching rockets at local science nights, hosting Space Jeopardy at the OPHS game night, and building hundreds of model rockets with kids in local after school club programs and other events.

2019 tarc National Finals

This years TARC 2019 National Finals was a great success! Oak Park Rocketry’s team one earned two first place spots in the outreach and presentation categories with an overall place of 21st out of the 101 competing teams! The rocket was named Star-Liner to recognize our generous sponsor Boeing and we were fortunate enough to meet with representatives from our sponsors Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne. The ranking of 21st place gives us the chance to compete in the NASA Student Launch Initiative at the Marshall space flight center in April 2020. We are excited to compete in this college level competition and look forward to the challenges ahead!

2019 tarc launches

This year we had a great time building and launching our 2019 TARC rockets. We had a great year with a lot of challenges good and bad… This year our club split up into two teams both competing to get into the national finals in Virginia. Both teams showed tremendous effort and success but could not get a low enough score to qualify (only 4 points away). While working on TARC and other high power projects we love to participate in outreach events at local schools, air shows, and conferences so we submitted proof of our great work with the community to TARC officials and were chosen to be the 101st team to compete at TARC national finals! We are truly excited to be recognized for our all of our outreach in the community and can’t wait to compete in Virginia!

high power rocket launch at the MOJAVE desert advance rocket society (Mdars) launch site

On January 26th 2019 we traveled to the Mojave desert once more to fly some of our high power rocket projects. Four more of our team members earned their NAR Jr. level 1 certification after launching their high power rockets. We also launched two minimum diameter high power rockets while we were there. The first was a 54mm rocket that flew on an I 161 for its maiden flight to about 2600 feet and the 2nd one was a 38mm which we flew on an I 211 and at a speed greater than 700 mph and an altitude over 7700 feet, It was then recovered about a mile and a half away! While we were there we launched some of our TARC rockets and also flew our modified 1/4 scale sea sparrow once more to see if its viable to make a stable full scale design. This effort proved fruitless because even with our improved design it still flew erratically.

high power rocket launch at the friend of AMATEUR rocketry site

On December 15th 2018 we traveled to The Friends of Amateur Rocketry site to launch 6 high power rockets. We launched 4 NAR (National Association of Rocketry) Jr. level 1 certification flights. Congratulations to four of our members who earned their Jr. level 1 certification! We also launched a 38mm minimum diameter dual deployment rocket that flew 3771 feet on a aerotech H 123.

plane spotting

One of the numerous activities we love to do is plane spotting, fortunately the Los Angeles International airport is less than an hour away. We spotted from Imperial hill on the south side of the airport where we could see the planes take off, then we went to the north side to see the planes land.

scale sea sparrow project

The sea sparrow is a surface to air missile used in the Navy, there are other variants such as the air to air version. We decided to make a full scale sea sparrow because when we were in Washington D.C we toured the National Air and Space Museum and saw this rocket. This rocket stood out and now we have decided to complete a full scale version. The work began with trying to make a 1/4 scale stable design, this proved to be a challenge because the “canards” or the sea sparrows wings made the rocket very unstable. We compensated for the stability by adding 3 oz weight into the nose cone. Once we had a finished scale model we launched it at The Underwood Family Farms in Moorpark CA. The launch showed that even by adding 3 oz of weight to the nose of the rocket it still was to under stable. Now with stability in mind we are working on a new design that will hopefully fly strait.

oak park rocketry shares our EXPERIENCE with model rocketry at the wings over camarillo airshow

At the Camarillo airshow we wanted to share with the community our knowledge about building rockets so we built close to 100 model rockets with the local community to get them interested in Rocketry and STEM.


Team one placed in to top 100 and had the chance to compete in Virginia at the TARC National Finals. Team one had a great time and flew there rocket at the plains in Virginia. We also had a chance to meet Representative from our sponsors, Aerojet Rocketdyne and Boeing.

2018 team america rocketry CHALLENGE launches

Oak Park Rocketry’s teams one, two, three, and four had a fun and successful time testing our 2018 TARC rockets at the Underwood family farm. We conducted over 40 launches here and learned a lot from them.

high power launch at the friends of amateur rocketry launch site

   On December 2, 2018 the Rocket Club took a trip to the desert once more in order to launch some high power rockets that our members had newly built. In total we launched 6 high power rockets and also began testing one of our TARC rockets for the upcoming TARC qualification launch season.

   Thanks to these launches, three of our club members who were new to high power rocketry earned their National Association of Rocketry Junior High Power Level 1 Certifications!


Global Space Balloon Challenge

The Oak Park Rocket Club decided to expand into the field of high altitude ballooning in order to compete in GSBC, the worlds largest high altitude balloon competition.


Designing a Mission

After deciding to take advantage of this summer's total solar eclipse, we made our objective the observation of the eclipse from our balloon. With help from online resources, we designed a payload to take pictures from the balloon and to record data such as altitude, air pressure, and temperature.

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Preparing for our Launch

Before we could launch our balloon, we had to first construct our payload and learn how to operate its various electronic components. We also had to learn the procedures behind weather balloon operation. For example, we had to file a "Notice to Airmen" or "NOTAM" which informed pilots in the area we planned to launch from about our balloon launch.

Because our goal was to fly our balloon to observe the total solar eclipse, we had to launch our balloon outside of our home state of California (the eclipse would not reach totality here). We chose instead to travel to the farmland around Lincoln, Nebraska. The eclipse would reach totality there and we reasoned that the flat plains of Nebraska would be ideal for recovering our balloon.

Once we had finalized all aspects of our flight, we conducted a practice launch to ensure that our launch procedures would work as intended on the day of the eclipse. The photo to the left shows the practice launch that we conducted on the Great Lawn of Oak Park High School.


Educational Initiative

We realized that our trip to Nebraska would provide us with a great opportunity to educate our fellow students and our community back home about space sciences and engineering. We decided to make an extra effort to share our experiences with as many people as possible and educate them about our project as much as we could.

To do this we decided to live-stream our experiences in Nebraska as they were happening. After collaborating with many of the teachers across our school district we were able to organize for a large audience to watch our live-stream. We instructed the teachers to ask us the questions their students had and we were able to answer many of their questions live as we were launching our balloon.

To make our live-stream a success we contacted our district's technology director, Mr. Enoch Kwok. He was able to help us understand the technologies we utilized to live-stream from Nebraska and he came with us on our trip to ensure that everything went smoothly. He is pictured here on the right setting up our live-stream equipment.

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Launching Our Balloon

On the day of the eclipse we made the journey from our hotel to our launch site. Our launch site was located West of Lincoln, Nebraska where we had calculated that the winds in the area would keep our balloon in the path of the eclipse.

We launched at approximately 10:30 am which we predicted would give our balloon enough time to ascend to a high altitude before the eclipse would actually occur in Nebraska.

The image to the left shows a drone image of our launch site and the launch of our balloon. Above you can see the live-stream of the launch of our balloon. in addition to this live-stream, we also aired the eclipse itself and the recovery of our balloon's payload.

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Telescope Observations

In addition to our observations of the eclipse from the balloon we also hoped to observe the eclipse from the ground.

To do this we brought along one of our schools telescopes and a tracking mount owned by our club's president. These had to shipped to Nebraska in advanced and we picked them up once we arrived to Lincoln.

We were very happy to have brought along a telescope because we were able to make our own observations of the eclipse and we got some great pictures as you can see below.

Finally, we were also able to live-stream this part of our day and we had the opportunity to explain a lot about astronomy and eclipses to the students and teachers who watched our live-stream.


Payload Recovery

About 3 hours after launch, our balloon's on-board GPS indicated to us that the balloon had touched down.

The touchdown spot was within a mile of the location that we predicted using software from the University of Cambridge. So we were already on our way there when we received the notification that our balloon had landed.

Unfortunately the payload touched down in the middle of a large cornfield we were separated from by an irrigation trench. Thankfully, we were able to locate the balloon using a combination of a radio tracker and by listening for the beeping of a speaker installed on the balloon.



After traversing the irrigation trench and navigating the cornfield we were able to analyze the results of our flight.

We were very pleased to see that we had flown our balloon to an altitude of greater than 114,000 ft. In addition, our flight computer recorded data about the pressure and temperature of the payload at different altitudes.

However, we were disappointed to note that our on-board cameras failed to record photos past an altitude of around 60,000 and thus did not capture the total solar eclipse. We believe that this was due to the cold temperatures that the payload encountered at around that altitude, which is consistent with the data the on-board thermometers recorded. Our data shows that the coldest temperatures were reached when the balloon approached this altitude. We believe that these cold temperatures caused the cameras to shut off.

When researching how to insulate our cameras before our flight we were informed that the cameras would not need to be insulated as they are designed to withstand cold temperatures. For future balloon launches we will not make the same mistake and plan to insulate our cameras during flight.

On the bright side the cameras still recorded some beautiful picture, visible below, before they shut off.

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Tour of District Schools

After returning from our trip we decided to further our educational goals by touring the other schools in our area to share the experience of our trip even further.

We hoped to share our interest in science and engineering with the students in our local middle and elementary schools. We brought along the telescope we used to observe the eclipse and using a solar filter we showed the students how to safely observe the sun. We answered their questions about solar phenomena and eclipses using the photos we took in Nebraska as examples. Finally, we also taught the students about engineering and problem solving by showing them our actual balloon payload. We talked them through the solutions we found to the problems we encountered when designing our payload and showed them how the different parts of our balloon functioned.

In total we were able to visit 4 schools in our area as well as our own high school. We hope to have inspired the students at these schools to pursue careers in science and enigneering.

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Data Sharing

To further our educational initiative we decided to share the data our flight computer recorded with the STEM teachers in our district. We hope they will use the data we collected in their lessons to give their students real world data that the students can manipulate. We believe that this could encourage students to take in interest in the material that they are learning in class and see how their lessons connect to real world applications that scientists and engineers use every day.

The Oak Park Rocket Club Launches High Power rockets at the friends of amateur rocketry launch site

   On September 16, the Oak Park Rocket Club traveled to the Mojave Desert where we had the chance to launch two high power rockets, a Black Brant X constructed by our mentor Dr. Tony Knight as well as a scratch built bamboo rocket we had constructed.

   We had gotten the idea to construct a bamboo rocket from one of our members and we took up this challenge to attempt to create a rocket completely from reusable materials. We took this opportunity to practice bio-mimicry and designed our rocket's fins to approximate the shape of a shark's dorsal fins as you can see in the images below. Unfortunately, this rocket didn't fare so well. Upon reaching it's peak altitude the rocket failed to deploy its parachute. We believe the cause of this failure in part due to the fact that the rocket was constructed from bamboo and thus its cross section was slightly elliptical. Thus, when the rocket took off we believe that the nosecone shifted to an orientation with more friction and that this resulted in a failed deployment. 

   On a more positive note, Dr. Knight's rocket flew beautifully and was recovered mostly unharmed save for a canard that detached upon landing. Dr. Knights rocket also carried a camera module that filmed a wide angle video that you can watch below as part of a video we made of our experience.

the oak park rocket club participates in the camarillo airport aviation career day

On October 20th, 2017 the Camarillo Airport hosted an aviation career day to teach students about careers in aerospace. They hosted representatives from many organizations such as NASA, JPL, multiple branches of the United States armed forces, and private aerospace business to inform students about careers relating to space and aviation. The event was attended by over 500 students from around Camarillo and also included a flyover held by the Camarillo Commemorative Air Force.

The Oak park rocket club visits the la Skyspace

The Oak Park Rocket Club took a trip to the US Bank Tower in Los Angeles to experience the 360 - degree views of Los Angeles, ride the glass slide over Los Angeles, and to go plane spotting from 1,000 feet above LAX. We were able to view some amazing aircraft from really close up and to see the path they take to land and take off from the largest airport in our area.

the oak park rocket club visits jpl

As part of the Ventura County Innovates, Career Technology Instruction Program, the Oak Park Rocket Club was able to visit NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratories in Pasadena, California. We were able to learn about various past JPL missions, see into JPL's mission control room, watch live transmissions to and from the Deep Space Network, and view Mars 2020 components under construction in JPL's clean room.

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Tarc Testing 3-4

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The Oak Park Rocket Teams were finally able to start testing their TARC rocket at Underwood Family Farms after California's rainy weather eased up. All three teams had successful flights but Team 4 lost their payload section in some bushes so they will have to rebuild parts of their rocket.

Jennifer launches Team 4's rocket!

The oak park rocket club witnesses the launch of spacex's falcon 9

One of our club goals is to promote interest for science and technology, when the opportunity came up to view the launch of the Falcon 9, we just couldn't turn it down. The Falcon 9 successfully launched 10 Iridium communication satellites into Low Earth Orbit, and its booster stage was successfully recovered at sea aboard the drone ship "Just Read the Instructions". The Oak Park Rocket Club is very proud to witnessed in person aerospace history in the making! 

The Oak Park rocket club launches their level 1 Jr. High power certification rockets

Tim Kaine and the oak park rocket team 2

The Oak Park Rocket Team 2 recently received this photo from the staff of the Rockets on the Hill event, which they took place in as part of their participation in the TARC national finals of 2015 - 2016. The team is very proud to have gotten the opportunity to meet with current vice-presidential candidate Tim Kaine.

THE OAK PARK ROCKET Club Works To get their Level 1 Jr. Certifications

A Jr. Level 1 High Power Certification enables a member of the National Association of Rocketry, to purchase and fly H and I grade motors with the supervision of an adult who is High Power Level 1 Certified. In the case of the Oak Park Rocket Club our adviser Dr. Tony Knight functions as our adult supervisor as he posses a Level 2 High Power NAR Certification.

THE OAK PARK ROCKET team is recognized by the oak park board of education

On Wednesday June 16, 2016 the Oak Park Unified School District's Board of Education officially recognized the efforts of the Oak Park Rocket Club's TARC teams 2 & 3, during the TARC season of 2015 - 2016. In particular, Team 2 was congratulated for placing in the top 100 teams in the nation and placing 33rd in the TARC national finals.

The Oak park rocket club visits the california science center

As part of our mission to learn about aerospace and aviation, the Oak Park Rocket Club visited the California Science Center to see the Space Shuttle Endeavour and to watch the film "A Beautiful Planet", filmed from the ISS.

visit to the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center  

Among other museums, the Oak Park Rocket Team visited the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center to learn about the history of aerospace and to see their very very impressive collection of air and spacecrafts.