Three MODG students helped the St. Monica’s Rocketry Team in CT place 24th in the nation during the 2021 American Rocketry Challenge last month. This same team was featured by MODG in 2018, when they were invited to that year’s NASA Student Launch, and once again they have earned the opportunity to go to the next Launch.

This year's team was much smaller than the team in past years, a testament to the effort that they put into their achievement. St. Monica's competed against thousands of other students from across the country as they launched rockets that they had designed and built themselves. 

“We had just five team members this year,” shares Ann Daniels, rising MODG senior and co-captain of the team.

Daniels has been on the team since she was in 7th grade, joining just a few years after her father started it. Peter Sebestyen, rising MODG senior, is also on the team.

Nicholas Ward (MODG ’21), co-captain with Daniels, explains how they share the role of leading the team.

“I’m the analytic side,” he says. “I think about what went wrong, what we could do better, and I analyze the data. Ann would often be working hands-on, modifying the rocket. On the field, we make sure each team member has their own specific responsibility. We have to do the same thing each time perfectly.”

“Last year we decided to make our rocket overly complicated,” says Daniels. “Nicholas and I designed it with air brakes on the computer and we spent a huge amount of time brainstorming. We 3-D printed them all out maybe 17 different times.”

“And then of course a big part of the entire competition is learning teamwork and how to coordinate with fellow teammates,” adds Ward. “Our team did a really good job with that. It’s something we do well.”

The team’s hard work paid off, for once again they have been invited to participate in the next NASA Student Launch. The top 25 teams in the country received invitations for the NASA event, which will take place in 2022.

“We both really try to push our other teammates to participate more, be engaged, and enjoy what we’re doing,” concludes Daniels. “We want to make sure that everybody has a really substantial role in what we’re trying to accomplish. That’s the most important thing.”

Photos courtesy of Ann Daniels and Nicholas Ward.