Student-Made Devices Compete in 2015 JPL Invention Challenge

Press Release From: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Posted: Tuesday, December 1, 2015


WHAT: Middle- and high-school teams will demonstrate unique devices they have built to compete in the “Ball Fling Contest,” the annual Invention Challenge hosted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, on Friday, Dec. 4.

The objective is to create a device that can propel three supplied playground balls to three different targets in less than 60 seconds. Point values are awarded for each successfully completed target. The winner will be the team whose device accumulates the most points.

Twenty-one student teams from schools throughout Southern California will compete. The student teams were invited to the JPL Invention Challenge based on results from two regional contests held in November. Three teams of JPL engineers and scientists will also compete.

While the contest rules change each year, the goal is the same: to give students an opportunity to be creative and have fun with math, science and engineering.

This year’s devices must be initiated by a single operation provided by the contestant for each launch of the playground ball (e.g., cut a string, flick a switch, pull a pin, etc.). No human power may be used during the initiation of the device, the length and width are limited to 2 meters (6 feet 6 inches). The devices must be made from non-toxic, safe materials.

Trophies will be divided into two categories: JPL employee/family/contractor entries and school team entries. Certificates will be issued for the largest, smallest, lightest, heaviest, most unusual, most artistic and most creative designs.

More information is at:

WHEN: Friday, Dec. 4, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., rain or shine.

WHERE: Mall area of JPL, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, California. JPL is located off the Oak Grove Drive exit of the 210 (Foothill) Freeway.

CONTACT: To arrange access, media must RSVP to Elizabeth Landau or Elena Mejia in the JPL Media Relations Office by email at or, or by phone at 818-354-6425 or 393-5467, by Thursday, Dec. 3 at 4 p.m. Media who arrange access must also bring valid media credentials, and for non-U.S. citizens, valid passports.

2015 JPL Invention Challenge: Participating Schools

1. Village Christian High School, Sun Valley
2. Temple City High School, Temple City
3. Crescenta Valley High School, La Crescenta
4. Culver City High School, Culver City
5. Arcadia High School, Arcadia
6. Morningside High School, Inglewood
7. Alexander Hamilton High School, Los Angeles (three teams)
8. Great Oak High School, Temecula
9. Lawndale High School, Lawndale (two teams)
10. STEM Academy of Boyle Heights, Los Angeles
11. Sycamore Junior High School, Anaheim
12. Los Angeles High School, Los Angeles (three teams)
13. Oakwood School, North Hollywood
14. Oxford Academy, Cypress
15. Los Angeles Center for Enriched Studies (LACES), Los Angeles
16. Summit Collegiate Academy, Porterville

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