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Motivating CAP cadets for TARC

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WillMarchant

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For a few years I've been trying to help one of the local composite squadrons with their TARC team. I'm about an hour drive away so it is tough for me to make every meeting. CAP is tough because the cadets have meetings every week or so and so it is difficult to keep them working to a TARC development schedule. Things tend to just happen at meetings or when you can get them to a launch. Anybody have techniques that they've used with CAP cadets to keep them moving? Thanks in advance!
 

AKPilot

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Will, I've attempted extensively to work with the Civil Air Patrol (CAP) when it comes to model rocketry. Extensively, both here in Mo and in Ak; from the active duty side as well as a pilot/educator side.

The first and foremost issue is like with many - monetary. To the best of my knowledge they still remain an auxillary of the USAF, where the bulk of their money comes from. They do take donations. Even if a CAP team was to become active towards TARC, you face two uphill battles; micromanagement from adult leaders (it's a military thing) and the second is having to accomodate even more activities into a compacted schedule to earn the resources for the trip to VA.

Many CAP squadrons are still organized around Search and Rescue (SAR), even though they're fully permitted to pursue model rocketry and can form such a squadron. I've worked these folks over, over, over, and over again attempting a "low cost" alternative to SAR geared activities. There's simply no glamour in it.

In AK the CAP was so heavily focused on their SAR mission, for obvious reasons, that they had a waiting list of people clamoring to be pilot/observers.

In MO I'm surrounded by 3 squadrons within a 100 mile radius, at last call, I've contacted all three squadron commanders extensively, explaining that I myself am a USAF guy and get a friendly conversation and no call backs.

From my own personal experience it's like scouting, it's permitted (and even rewarded); it's a means to an end. However, there's little glamour and fewer 'educators' that know how to incorporate the same aerodynamic principles applicable to airplanes to model rocketry. I also believe there's fewer fields available, in addition to people seeing airplanes on a daily basis - while full-scale rockets are not viewed personally in public as often. Let's face it we pass by all sorts of airports, nearly daily, or see a plane in the sky. Few, if any, of the average population sees a full scale rocket daily; unless you're near a museum, NASA, or military facility.



P.S. Also, don't forget Trip's comments towards TARC at the last NARCON. Even with TARC going on for 8+ years now, the retention rate towards the hobby from students is almost non-existent.
 
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WillMarchant

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Thanks for the info, Troy. Your comments reflect a lot of my experience.

We're lucky in that the TARC competition field is less than an hour drive from the squadron.

Yes, getting the cadets to work on rocketry is a problem with all the competition for their time. I'm starting to think that having them work on the CAP rocketry badge program would be more productive...
 

n5wd

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WillMarchant said:
...it is difficult to keep them working to a TARC development schedule. Things tend to just happen at meetings or when you can get them to a launch.
Will, have you tried the mercenary effect? Emphasizing the possible trip to Washington has been effective in some measure for some of my more-scattered team members.

It's hard - kids have so much going on, today. And CAP, since it's not an activity where you or they, themselves, see each other every day is even worse. Maybe bribe 'em with pizza (have the parents rotate responsibility for the pizza each week) or something similar?
 

WillMarchant

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Will, have you tried the mercenary effect? Emphasizing the possible trip to Washington has been effective in some measure for some of my more-scattered team members.

It's hard - kids have so much going on, today. And CAP, since it's not an activity where you or they, themselves, see each other every day is even worse. Maybe bribe 'em with pizza (have the parents rotate responsibility for the pizza each week) or something similar?
Hi Wayne:
They're local so I can't really bribe them about a trip to the finals. They get momentarily excited about prize money, SLI, and Farnborough/Paris but it doesn't last beyond the meeting. I haven't tried food... :D
Best wishes,
Will
 

Zack Lau

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In Connecticut, there was a rocketry competition between CAP squadrons. When they showed up at at a CATO launch I flew my A10 Warthog boost glider.
 

davalf

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Ok, where to begin. I spent many years as a CAP cadet and now I am in the Air Force. As a cadet, I was very active in the rocketry program. We had a yearly rocketry encampment. It was a 2.5 day event where we gave classes on Friday night, built rockets on sat, and flew on sunday. It was always a succesful program. As for myself, being very interested in HPR, I started building larger rockets and flying them on G motors. This brought motivation up even more, and everyone wanted to build larger rockets. So, we got a large rocket doanated, I think from PML, and built it as a squadron. We then had someone who was certified in the proper level come and inspect the rockets and provided the motors. The launch was a huge success.

Once I got settled into my adult life I then joined the local CAP squadron as a senior member. And from my expierence, I was able to set up any activities, as long as "I" did it. Also, most CAP squadrons dedicate about an hour a month or so to aerospace education. Now, I am not familair with the TARC program so I do not know where to lead you there. But I am familair with CAP. As for SAR, it is for the adults. Mostly private pilots who want the military feel of flying, and I do not mean to offend anyone, but it is true. Cadets cannot really legaly participate in SAR unless they are a certain age, 16 I think.

Just be persistant, and show you are willing to give your whole effort. Don't know if this helps but good luck.

Dave
 

n5wd

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...Now, I am not familair with the TARC program ...
TARC is the Team America Rocketry Challenge, the nation's largest rocketry engineering challenge. It's sponsored by the Aerospace Industries Assn and the National Association of Rocketry for 7-12th grade aged kids (teams can be sponsored by schools and/or other groups such as FFA, 4H, CAP, etc.).

For more information on TARC, see: http://rocketcontest.org/
 

RocketT.Coyote

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As a CAP unit AEO, I can tell you that squadrons in CAP are limited by regulation as to how much meeting time may be spent on Aerospace Education/rocketry. There are many activities to divide a cadet's attention and earning Find and Save awards for SAR activities are just a few. Once warm weather arrives, one may expect training weekends and activities to boom. The local unit must schedule their activities around those at the state level.

Once a cadet earns his/her first stripe, they become eligible to participate in the CAP Model Rocketry Program. I show them the old Estes video featuring Wm Shatner to give them some basic knowledge. Then each cadet gets an Estes Viking kit free. When they bring it to the next scheduled launch, they will also get motor, igniter, and wadding. An adult officer or experienced cadet helps the newbie prep the rocket and they get to push the button. I launch some of my bigger birds and maybe suit up as my coyote mascot for fun. Even with free stuff and a fun activity, not every one turns out. What a unit can do here depends on what funds are available.
I was asked to come out one weekend to another CAP unit to give instruction and a demo at their airport last Spring. I was provided lodging, meals, and entertainment. Local news media came out to photograph the launch.
CAP revised it's model rocketry program about six years ago and I was asked to staff a week-long program which runs concurrent with the basic encampment. We provide a demo for the 200 or so basic cadets in attendance. We hold our graduation a day before the basics, with parents in attendance and VIPs. The mascot joined in formations, staff meetings (under orders), and the encampment graduation party--lining up next year's enrolee's--and drawing attention to the program.
We limit our enrollments to 12 cadets, plus staff. Although we've had as many as 20 one year. The goal is to earn the CAP Model Rocketry Badge, but the knowledge/experience gained is definitely transferable to TARC.
A CAP team has been to TARC--as documented by both CAP's Volunteer magazine and Sport Rocketry. I don't recall what fundraising they had to do to get to TARC, but if you can find those stories, they might serve to motivate. They did get to meet Buzz Aldrin after all.
When my Wing had a champion precision drill team, they sought donations from the other squadrons in MI to help them with expenses.
:happydeer:
 

powderburner

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I have been on-and-off actively pushing TARC on the west side of Ft Worth for a few years and just have not found the magic button, whatever that is.

Teachers are already too busy, have too much to worry about getting lessons packed into the little time available between getting ready for TAKS tests, don't have any money for anything extra, and (I believe) get shut down by the school principals because of perceived danger.

I think it is selling TARC way short to only emphasize the rocketry part. I think it is every bit as important to emphasize the science, the computer simulation, the planning and scheduling, commitment to support a project and follow through, a touch of physics and thermodynamics and meteorology and geometry and trigonometry, basic model construction skills, familiarity with simple structural materials and use of adhesives, safe use of basic electricity.....you get the idea. There is a lot involved, a lot that can be learned (if they want to) or a lot that can be simplified and basically ignored. But I think the kids themselves have to be interested or it's not going to work out to push them into the deal. And they have to be interested enough to withstand the peer ridicule and pressure, which unfortunately is more important to the short-sighted ones. I think it is wrong to bring up the prize money because these kids need to want to participate for the adventure and learning experience, not because they think they will be "paid" for it.

Probably the most important benefit (IMHO) would be for a kid to have TARC experience on his college resume (or job application) showing that he committed to a major project and followed through, whether he won or not. But they don't "get it" yet.
 

n5wd

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...Probably the most important benefit (IMHO) would be for a kid to have TARC experience on his college resume (or job application) showing that he committed to a major project and followed through, whether he won or not. But they don't "get it" yet.
David,

Interesting that you should mention that. On the flight out to last year's national finals, I sat next to a young lady who was returning to North Carolina from a brief vacation in Hawaii. The normal chit-chat revealed that she is an admissions counselor for a very well known university. When I mentioned I was taking four of my students to a national rocketry competition... she got this funny look on her face, kinda scrunched up her face like she was trying to remember something, and said "Team America something.." Seems that she was very familiar with TARC through the essays that kids who wanted to attend her university had to write- many of them included their TARC experience and I got the impression that TARC was considered a very good thing (amongst other activities) to have included on their resume!
 
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powderburner

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Wayne,

I completely understand her comments. Colleges, scholarship committees, and potential employers are not looking for kids who merely "check" the block of doing the minimum at school, taking up space, or whatever you call it.

If you want to stand out, if you want a chance to pick up something extra from a school or employer, you have to show that you are "better" than other applicants and stand out. You have to show that you are willing to put in some extra work, that you can lead some sort of effort or project, that you have the drive and commitment to finish a complex science fair project or TARC or community project or something other than watching SpongeBob all day.

I did not serve in the military, and cannot state this as "fact" but I expect that superior officers would notice these extra efforts, especially in the area of science and rocketry, and that TARC experience would be a valuable item to have in military personnel records. I would expect that an indication of serious interest in a military career (such as expressed by TARC participation) would get someone a little better assignment, a little quicker promotion, a little better chance at advanced training.
 
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AKPilot

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As a person who hires for an aerospace company. . . all things being equal, I'll take a person with a degree, coupled with complimenting accomplishments (NAR, AMA, FAA certs., AOPA, etc.) any day over someone with a 'name brand' degree and nothing else or something unrelated. My rationale is that the person who has accomplishments in a similar apptitude to their degree - is passionate about their pursuits.
 
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