Student-Made Devices Compete in 2016 JPL Invention Challenge

Press Release From: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Posted: Monday, November 21, 2016

WHAT: Middle-school and high-school teams from Southern California -- and one from Tanzania -- will demonstrate unique devices they have built to compete in the annual Invention Challenge hosted by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, on Friday, Dec. 2. This year’s event is the “Don’t Waste a Drop Contest.”

The objective is to create a device that can transport water in a plastic cup into a water vessel located more than 6 feet (2 meters) away in the fastest time without wasting a drop of water. The winner will be the team whose device accomplishes the task in the fastest time.

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

Teachers who have had past experience with the competition and then moved to other countries have created their own versions of the Invention Challenge as well. This year, a teacher from Tanzania is bringing his high school students all the way to JPL to experience the original competition.

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 carry 250 grams of water with a 3-D printed plastic goldfish to a water vessel located just over 6 feet away. At that point, the device must transfer all the water (along with the goldfish) into the vessel. The devices are not allowed to touch the vessel, and must minimize the amount of water spilled.

The cup may not be altered in any way, and no tape or adhesives may be used to secure it to the device. The device must be operated by a single action (cut a string, flick a switch, pull a pin, etc.) provided by the contestant. No human power may be used during the initiation of the device. 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.

The Invention Challenge information is at: 

WHEN: Friday, Dec. 2, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., rain or shine.

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

CONTACT: To arrange access, media must RSVP to Andrew Good in the JPL Media Relations Office by email at at 818-393-2433 by Nov. 28 at 2 p.m. Media who arrange access must also bring valid media credentials, and for non-U.S. citizens, valid passports.

2016 JPL Invention Challenge: Participating Southern California Schools

Los Angeles High School, Los Angeles
Alexander Hamilton High School, Los Angeles (three teams)
Oakwood School, North Hollywood (three teams)
Chaparral Middle School, Diamond Bar
Village Christian High School, Sun Valley
Walter Reed Middle School, North Hollywood
Lawndale High School, Lawndale (two teams)
Culver City High School, Culver City
Arcadia High School, Arcadia
Hesby Oaks Leadership Charter, Encino
Temple City High School, Temple City (two teams)
Lakeside High School, Riverside

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