. 24/7 Space News .
Practice makes perfect for student inventions at JPL competition
by Staff Writers
Pasadena CA (JPL) Dec 12, 2022

Oakwood School's Team Rose won first place in the Invention Challenge at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Paul MacNeal (back row) has run the competition since 1998. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Months of preparation led to three teams from one school taking home the top prizes at the 23rd Invention Challenge hosted by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

After a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic, the Invention Challenge made a lively return to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California on Friday. Now in its 23rd year, the long-running tradition brings together students and professional engineers to compete side by side with their homemade machines.

For this year's Invention Challenge, dubbed the "Sticky Wicket Contest," teams created devices that launched bouncy rubber balls 5 0.25 inches (13 centimeters) in diameter at five croquet-inspired targets set in an arc about 8 to 16 feet (2 0.5 to 5 meters) away. With just 60 seconds to pass the balls in a specific order through the wicket-shaped targets, speed and accuracy were key.

The rules for the Invention Challenge change every year, and teams have several months to design, fabricate, test, and analyze devices that they hope will accomplish the goal of that year's competition. Hammers and mallets, giant rubber bands and bungee cords, PVC piping and lots of wood, even an iPhone and some laser pointers went into the designs. But a single type of device - made by students at one school - emerged victorious.

Teams from North Hollywood's Oakwood School took first, second, and third place. Thirty-two students from the school took part, using a trio of similar devices that employed a tension band to shoot balls between two rails toward their goal.

The secret to Oakwood's success? "Just a lot of practice," said senior Avalon Bookstaver, who described her team's first-place-winning device as a "slingshot-crossbow-type thing." She estimated that each Oakwood student had practiced taking some 200 shots by the time of the competition. The school's three teams had trained together after class for 15 hours a week since August, testing eight types of devices before settling on a final model that itself went through various iterations, according to their coach, Oakwood STEAM department chair Marcos Arias.

In total, 20 California and one Colorado student team made it to the final competition after two regional events in November winnowed the field from 44 teams. Five JPL-sponsored adult teams competed separately at Friday's event.

Designed to inspire a passion for engineering, the free contest is one of the only such events that offers students the opportunity to put their skills to the test next to professionals, said JPL mechanical systems engineer Paul MacNeal, who started the Invention Challenge in 1998. Over the years, the contest has provided a competitive but supportive environment for more than 10,000 students to hone their skills in creativity, brain-storming, and solving tricky engineering problems.

"The students are engineers, they just don't know it," MacNeal said. "When they're getting ready for the contest and they're building their devices and they're testing them and redesigning them and re-testing them - they are engineers."

Related Links
Invention Challenge at JPL
Space Tourism, Space Transport and Space Exploration News

Thanks for being there;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5+ Billed Monthly

paypal only
SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once

credit card or paypal

NASA generated $71 billion in economic impact in 2021
Washington DC (UPI) Oct 27, 2021
NASA's latest economic impact report released Thursday, boasting $71.2 billion in output during the fiscal year 2021. The report from NASA outlines how its activities, including research and technology, affect the economy. Those activities supported more than 339,000 jobs across the United States while generating about $7.7 billion in tax dollars. NASA's moon to Mars mission was among the biggest contributors, generating more than $20 billion in output. That mission alone was the basis o ... read more

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

Turning science fiction into science fact

Practice makes perfect for student inventions at JPL competition

NASA taps Collins Aerospace to develop new spacesuits for Space Station

These freeze-drying algae can awaken from cryostasis, could help spaceflights go farther

US conducts successful hypersonic missile test: Air Force

China launches Long March 2D carrier rocket

PSLV-XL rocket motor made by industry passes test: ISRO

Arctic Sweden in race for Europe's satellite launches

Evaluating a Possible Drill Location

Sol 3676 Another: 'Bore-ing' Day on Mars

Martian dust devil analogues in the Mojave Desert #ASA183

Tiny underwater sand dunes may shed light on larger terrestrial and Martian formations

China's space station Tiangong enters new phase of application, development

China's Shenzhou-14 astronauts return safely, accomplishing many "firsts"

China's deep space exploration laboratory eyes top talents worldwide

China astronauts return from Tiangong space station

SpaceX launches 40 Internet satellites for rival OneWeb into orbit

US grants OQ more patents for world's first 5G IoT satellite LEO constellation

Spirent brings realistic testing to emerging LEO satellite applications

Slingshot Aerospace raises $40M in oversubscribed Series A2 funding round

Say hello to the toughest material on Earth

Cubic silicon carbide wafers demonstrate high thermal conductivity, second only to diamond

Scientist mimic nature to make nano particle metallic snowflakes

New approaches to the mystery of why ice is slippery

How the 'hell planet' got so hot

Southern hemisphere's biggest radio telescope begins search for ET signatures

An exoplanet atmosphere as never seen before

Many planets could have atmospheres rich in helium, study finds

The PI's Perspective: Extended Mission 2 Begins!

NASA's Europa Clipper gets its wheels for traveling in deep space

Mars and Jupiter moons meet

NASA studies origins of dwarf planet Haumea

The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2024 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) Statement Our advertisers use various cookies and the like to deliver the best ad banner available at one time. All network advertising suppliers have GDPR policies (Legitimate Interest) that conform with EU regulations for data collection. By using our websites you consent to cookie based advertising. If you do not agree with this then you must stop using the websites from May 25, 2018. Privacy Statement. Additional information can be found here at About Us.