Student Inventors Kick It Into High Gear
“Shockolate,” a team from Culver City High School, picked up top honors at the annual Invention Challenge, held Dec. 9 at JPL.
The event drew more than 150 students and teachers representing 18 schools from throughout Southern California. This year’s challenge was to build a unique device that kicked a football of regulation size and weight over a barrier and into a trashcan. A total of 23 student teams competed side-by-side with seven JPL teams of engineers. Each team was allowed to have their device kick the football a maximum of three times within a one-minute interval. Points were awarded for getting close to or inside the trashcan. The winning team, “Shockolate” was the team whose device accumulated the most points.
The requirements this year: The devices had to be capable of kicking a football over a 16.4 feet- (2 meter-) high barrier located about 8 feet (2.5 meters). Kicking is defined as a striking or impacting motion that propels the football towards the trashcan. Pushing or slinging the football was not allowed. The field judge was tasked with deciding if the “kick” requirement was met for each kick attempted.
This year, the event featured an honorary judge. Jeff Locke, the UCLA football team’s punter, kicked a few footballs and even took a moment to address the crowd to emphasize the importance of education. The specific goal of the Invention Challenge changes every year, but it always stresses applied creativity and engineering skills.
Image Caption: Twenty-three student teams used devices they built to kick a football into the can at the annual JPL Invention Challenge.
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