All-Girls Rocket Team at McKinney High Reaching New Heights

An all-girls rocket team at McKinney High School is hoping to reach new heights in a national competition.

The group is made up of juniors and seniors, all who plan to enter math, science and engineering fields after graduation.

Inside their workshop, there is no battle of the sexes.

“There’s no, ‘this is the boy's team, this is the girl's team,’” said junior Alex Macias. “It’s kind of just, 'we’re rocket teams and we’re building rockets,' which we all love.”

The love of rockets is just part of what bonds these girls.

Shuva Gautum, senior class valedictorian, was the last one to join the girls’ Team America Rocketry Challenge (TARC) group.

“I was like a newborn baby,” Gautam said. “I didn’t know anything about what they were talking about. They would say apogee and I’d say, ‘what’s that?!’”

But it didn’t take long for her to catch up – with the help of a few friends.

“It was definitely different because in fields like this, I’m so used to working with guys, always being the one girl,” Gautam said.

And this is one of the most well-rounded group of girls you’ll ever meet.

In the mix, there is a musician, soccer player, artist. Every single one is a problem solver.

They also all have perfect handwriting.

“One of our big things is they do engineering notebooks and I can read their writing and that’s huge,” said STEM teacher Robert Gupton.

Gupton was an engineer for 18 years and has been a teacher for 15 years and knows firsthand how male-dominated the field can be.

He said one of his main objectives is to make sure girls have the same opportunities as guys when it comes to STEM.

“Regardless of what they do, I want them to have a passion,” Gupton added.

Spend a few minutes with the all-girls TARC team and you’ll quickly realize “passion” is an understatement.

The team is made up of Ashley Perez, 16, Loren Smith, 16, Shuva Gautam, 18, Kathryn Lehocky, 18, Bayleigh Bustemante, 18 and Alex Macias, 16.

They are building and perfecting a rocket that must reach an altitude of at least 775 feet in approximately 40 seconds. T

They are one of about a thousand teams competing for a spot at the national Team America Rocketry Challenge in Washington, D.C. this spring.

Good luck, girls!

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