Catapults and leaf-blowers were among the many innovative devices built by students for the 2017 Invention Challenge, an annual engineering competition at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.

Middle schools and high schools were represented from across the greater Los Angeles area. Three teams even required passports, with students coming from Tanzania and Ethiopia.

This year's "Wiffle Ball Loft Contest" required competitors to create a device to launch up to 10 wiffle balls into a plastic tub located 19 feet, 8 inches (6 meters) away within a one-minute time allotment. The challenges were many: launching at the best angles with the varying wind directions; making sure the device was initiated by only one method; and even preventing the wiffle ball from breaking, which would result in disqualification.

The winners were from Southern California: "Project Defying Gravity" from Diamond Bar High School; "Cre8tive" from South East High School in Southgate; and "The Lizards" from Lawndale High School.

Please check back in August for details regarding the 2018 JPL Invention Challenge.