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JPL Annual 2003 Invention Challenge Results Gallery
Entry 23
Comments from Entries 23, 24, and 25

A. My students enjoyed the competition. At first it was hard because we could never get our planes to fly before. We had a person from HRP systems come and talk to the students and go over what the thrust will be applied to the plane. He also talked to them about aerodynamics.

B. My students thought the fact that students used pre-made kits was not very acceptable in that they didn't learn as much. We bought a Styrofoam plane just to study, but I made them build theirs from scratch. I could understand a junior high, but a high school should have challenged their students more.

My students built various types of planes and I didn't limit them to any design. We used balsa wood because it was reality cheap. My students come from very low-income families and what we use is what I buy or what mesa provides. We used weights from bolts, washers, old batteries, duck tape, plastic tape, lots of glue, sand paper, and saws.

C. Our final designs were made of wood glued together with weights from bolts, washers, batteries, and lots of tape.

D. The testing was very helpful. The CSULB center made us a catapult and we tested our planes and made corrections. Several problems we ran into was our planes kept breaking and we would have to glue them back together or make splints for them. We also tested in a heavy head wind.

At 3:00 pm there is a wind coming in from the ocean, which was not the same at Fullerton or at JPL. We also felt we tested so much that the spring was not as strong as the one at JPL.

E. Our team enjoyed the regional competition. We took 5 planes and then did testing there against the calmer air. The best 3 we entered. Some of our planes broke and the students learned it was important to have backup planes and spare parts. We had taken glue, tape, and extra wood. The third place plane broke just before the competition started and had to have glue, split and tape to fly. The students also barrowed the Costa Mesa students idea about using rubber bands to keep the wings on so you could adjust them at the competition site.

F. My overall experience and feeling is the students learned a lot. The rules were clear. I was a little disappointed that more engineers from JPL didn't compete. I also feel they didn't test any of their planes ahead of time. The students expected great designs from the JPL folks. My students enjoyed the day at JPL. Everyone at JPL was nice and helpful. My students now want to be engineers so they can get a two-hour lunch. I told them they had to stay and make up their time. I appreciate the JPL press getting my students on TV. She seems great at spreading the coverage around so all schools got a chance to be on TV.

G. My team would improve their designs by using different materials so they wouldn't break so easy. Maybe use plastic or other harder woods.
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Jet Propulsion Laboratory National Aeronautics and Space Administration California Institute of Technology