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Team Qualifying at CSUF Prelims Takes Third at JPL Invention Final

December 5:: No. 91

A Costa Mesa High School team that qualified at Cal State Fullerton last month for the finals, took third place Dec. 1 against 19 other schools from throughout Southern California in the JPL Invention Challenge at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Not only that, but the student team, which calls itself the Evil Ballerinas, did better than the third-place team in the division consisting of JPL affiliates.              

The goal was to build a contraption that could loft tennis balls into a container several feet away. The tennis balls had to clear a barrier and, once a launcher was started, no adjustments could be made. Each team was given 20 tennis balls, all of which had to be launched within 60 seconds. The Evil Ballerinas put 13 tennis balls in the container, while the third-place JPL-division Richard Goldstein team put in 12.

In fact, in each of the top three places, the students put one more ball into the container than the JPL teams did: The first-place La Canada High School team from La Canada put in 17, while the first-place Don Noon JPL team put in 16. The second-place student team from Frazier Mountain High School in Lebec put in 15, while the second-place Douglas Clark team in the JPL division put in 14.
A total of 400 students and JPL people competed in the Challenge, said Paul MacNeal of JPL, the event organizer.

The preliminaries held Nov. 18 were at two sites: Fullerton, which has been the site of the competition to qualify for the finals each of the last seven years, as well a major promoter of the event through the College of Engineering and Computer Science, and Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles. Dozens of teams competed at Fullerton, coming from as far away as Apple Valley, El Cajon and Lake Elsinore. The JPL teams have their own qualifying events.

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

Media Contact: Russ Hudson, Public Affairs, 657-278-4007 or

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