Science is cool.

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the kids who do well in science class may be the ones who will pull our chestnuts out of the fire someday.

So it is with an enhanced sense of appreciation that we congratulate Pueblo County High School’s team for its recent performance in the StellarXplorers competition. PCHS finished third overall in an international contest that included 213 teams.

Participants are asked to come up with practical solutions for aerospace-related design problems in areas such as orbit determination, satellite component selection and launch vehicle planning. There’s also an academic testing portion to the competition, which is sponsored by the Air Force Association.

Due to the coronavirus, the final round of the competition wasn’t held this year. The top finishers were determined using their scores through the semifinal round.

The five-person PCHS team finished less than a point behind the second place finisher and less than four points behind the overall top finisher. We’ll never know if our local students would have been able to rally past those other two teams if the finals had been held as originally scheduled.

Regardless, performing that well in an international competition with so many teams involved is an accomplishment that shouldn’t be overlooked. It’s unfortunate that the top finishers won’t be able to be honored in person at an awards ceremony, but they will be receiving trophies and educational grants.

Perhaps some of the PCHS students who participated will go on to pursue careers in aerospace. It’s a field that has produced practical benefits for our everyday lives, including satellites, cell phones and robotic equipment. And yes, even advancements in health and medicine.