JPL ANNUAL INVENTION CHALLENGE - 2010
Ping Pong Ball Climb Contest

Event photos

Under beautiful blue skies and a light wind, the JPL Invention Challenge was held on the 180 Mall with more than 300 spectators and participants.  This year's contest objective was to build a device that could transport a ping pong ball from near the ground upwards towards a ceiling located 2 meters above the ground and have the ball remain in contact with the ceiling for at least 5 seconds.  Times were stopped after first contact of the ball and the ceiling.  The device performing this task in the fastest time was declared the winner. 

A total of 19 school teams and 12 JPL teams came up with different ways to accomplish this task.  The high speed entries used a "bow-and-arrow" method with either suction cups or magnets utilized to hold the ball to the ceiling.  Others used sticks that rotated up to the ceiling, or scissor jacks that grew in height.  Some entries utilized helium balloons or compressed air to propel the ball upwards.  Many of the entries failed to perform the task.  This year, the overall fastest time was posted by a team from Magnolia Science Academy Middle School with a blistering time of 0.20 seconds!


Entry No. School or JPL Lead Name

Team Name or other members

Entry Title

Bridge Wt.(lbs)

Length (inches)  Width (inches)  Height (inches)  Time (seconds) Award Comments
1 So. Pasadena HS Alpha None Given 22.3 46.3 24.0 19.0 DQ   Held less than 5 seconds
4 Diamond Bar HS NP COMPLEX None Given             No Show
5 Magnolia Science Academy - 3 CATAPULT CATAPULT 10.9 21.3 14.0 17.0 0.20 1st - School
8 Pacific Technology School The Levitators Levitator 5000 22.8 29.8 20.0 19.5 DQ   Ball didn't hold
14 Monroe Magnet MS Defying Gravity Blast Off 1 32.5 22.0 19.0 18.5 DQ   Ball didn't hold
15 Monroe Magnet MS Gravity Fighters Gravity Fighter 29.2 23.0 24.0 18.8 DQ   Ball didn't hold
16 Temple City HS Just Plain Light Mochi 21.3 44.0 24.0 19.6 DQ   Ball didn't hold
19 Morningside HS The Crazy Tacos The Zoom Machine 32.3 26.0 21.0 19.5 0.30 2nd - School  
20 Morningside HS The Monarchs The Turbo 10.1 16.0 10.0 19.5 0.37    
23 Savanna H S Rebel Engineers None Listed 6.0 13.5 31.0 22.6 DQ   Ball didn't hold
28 Mayfield Senior School Mayfield 1 None Listed 15.9 46.4 17.0 10.3 1.37 Most Artistic  
32 Crescenta Valley HS CVHS#2 The Bungi Dart 7.6 22.5 24.0 15.3 0.33 3rd - School Most Unusual  
36 Monrovia HS MHS B 11.0 24.0 24.0 19.3 0.70    
40 Alexander Hamilton HS None Given None Given 8.5 11.6 15.0 19.4 0.56    
42 Los Angeles HS A+ None Given 13.0 15.1 15.1 18.8 DQ   Did not contact
43 Los Angeles HS Mesa Kings None Given >40.0 44.0 16.3 19.5 DQ   Did not contact
47 Alhambra HS Hawk Alhambra Moors 12 0.4 15.5 12.0 19.0 3.30    
50 Saddleback HS 7 chicks & 1 dude The glenninator 14.2 46.2 13.8 19.3 6.40 Most Creative  
55 Culver City HS Team 2 CCHS None Given >40.0 45.0 14.3 19.5 DQ   Did not contact
58 South East HS Rawrr The Tornado 4.6 14.5 10.4 17.5 0.66    
 
101 Richard Goldstein   Jumping-Jack 7.5 17.5 12.0 19.0 0.30 3rd - JPL  
104 Kristan Ellis   MSL:Magnificent Scissor Lift >40.0 53.0* 17.8 18.5 DQ Heaviest Did not contact
105 Kristan Ellis   King Pong 0.5 45.5 27.5 16.5 DQ   Ball didn't hold
106 David Van Buren   Rocket Ball 3.7 15.0 12.0 19.5 0.23 1st - JPL  
107 Bob Krylo   Bob's Quick Flip >40.0 47.0 47.0 19.4 0.33 Largest  
108 Ricky Ma Luke Dahl Balloon Time Fun 0.0 9.0 9.0 18.0 DQ Lightest and Smallest Did not contact
109 Hannah Goldberg and Friends Goldberg's Groupies 57.0 48.0 14.6 17.3 DQ   Did not contact
110 Hannah Goldberg and Friends Black's Bunch >40.0 17.3 12.6 17.0 DQ   Did not contact
111 PC Chen Jack Kanholm Rockette 8.6 18.0 9.0 18.0 0.23 1st - JPL  
112 Paul MacNeal   UP 3.1 29.5 16.5 17.5 DQ   Did not contact
113 Dr. Louis Giersch Brant Cook, Kevin Knarr Balls of Fury 9.2 18.0 18.0 19.2 DQ   Ball didn't hold
114 Alan DeVault   Zip Zartz 9.3 19.0 11.5 19.3 DQ   Held only 2 seconds
115 Hasan Akkaya   LION             No Show
NA Richard Fretz             0.47   Unofficial entry

*Fits within a 48" x 48" square

I wish to thank all of the volunteers (listed below) that put on the show.  Without their help, the event would not be possible.  A special thanks goes out to Kim Lievense and her Public Services team, headed by Maggie Porter, for collecting the entry forms and video release forms and processing more than 200 student badges for all of the student teams.  I also wish to acknowledge the talented work performed by Robert Denise for being the master of ceremonies during the 90 minute contest.

Name: Position:
Paul MacNeal Organizer
Guillermo Blando             General Helper
Monica King  Assistant to organizer
Tony Ruiz                             Assistant to organizer
Mariyetta Madatyan      Recording Secretary
Dan Klein                             Recording Secretary
Chris Landry Referee
Robert Denise Announcer
Steven Wissler                  Check-in
Anna Stern                         Check-in
Vanessa Flesuras             Check-in
Robert Irwin                       Timer
Mircea Badescu                Timer
Melissa Vick                       Timer
Victor Mejia                       Video Operator
Fabien Nicaise                   Booth Review Helper
Mohammad Ahmad       Area Patroller
Joseph Joe                          Set-up Helper
Chris Ballard                       Set-up Helper
Chris Ballard                       Clean-up Helper
Fannie Chen                       Clean-up Helper
Burt Zhang                          Photographer
Amiee Quon                      Photographer
Bryan Johnson                  Photographer
Steve Nelson Videographer
Kent Frewing                     Judge
Brad Smith                          Judge
Paul Bailey                          Judge

I look forward to next year's contest.

-Paul MacNeal
Contest Organizer