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Winners of JPL Invention Challenge at CSUF Still Face Stiff Competition
CSUF hosts Jet Propulsion Laboratory Invention Challenge with teams all over Southern California bringing their own device designed to put as many tennis balls into a distant 30-gallon steel container in a minute.

November 22, 2006 :: No. 84

When the Jet Propulsion Laboratory set up its JPL Invention Challenge competition this year, organizers had what they thought were reasonable expectations of the high school and middle school students who would compete Nov. 18 at Cal State Fullerton.

The expectations were not so reasonable after all … the students exceeded them.

The goal was to build something that would put tennis balls into a steel container several feet away… but the balls had to clear a barrier and, once a launcher was set in motion, no adjustments were allowed. Each team was given 20 tennis balls that had to be launched within one minute. Before the event, JPL’s Paul MacNeal, the event organizer, said, “I don’t know what to expect. I’m hoping some teams get a significant percentage into the container.”

They did. Costa Mesa High School fielded three teams, self-named the Evil Ballerinas. One team put 13 balls into the container, another 10 and the third eight. All three are in the top five. But the Academy for Academic Excellence from Apple Valley — dubbed the Knights of All Things Science — put in 18. The fifth top-five team, Team Panda from Granite Hills High School in El Cajon, put in eight.

But the final competition for these teams will be stiff: Another preliminary competition was held the same day at Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles. Two teams — La Canada High School from La Canada and Gabrielino High School from San Gabriel — were perfect. All 20 balls went in. The other winners at the Manual Arts site were Frazier Mountain High School from Lebec and two teams from Ollivier Middle School from Bakersfield.

Ten more teams being chosen by JPL from among the other schools at the two sites also will compete in the finals Dec. 1 in Pasadena. In a separate category, there will be teams from JPL contractors and from JPL members and/or their families.

For more information on the JPL Invention Challenge, call MacNeal at
(818) 354-7824.

 


Media Contact: Russ Hudson, Public Affairs, 657-278-4007, or rhudson@fullerton.edu


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Granite Hills High School team
Granite Hills High School team

Monroe Middle School team
Monroe Middle School team with Felix Reyes at the launcher.

Monrovia High School team
Monrovia High School team with Ryan Keenan at left, Hayden Wells at right.


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