The JPL Annual Invention Challenge is ready for its sixteenth year. The title for this year’s contest is the “Hole in One Contest”. The objective and rules are listed below. Questions related to this contest should be directed to: Paul MacNeal at work phone (818) 354-7824, M/S 306-388, located in Building 306-369, or e-mail to


     - 2013 Rules
     - Plans for the 2013 Invention Challenge

     - School Entry Form
     - School Video Release Form for Child
     - School Video Release Form for Adult

     - JPL Employee Entry Form
     - JPL Team Video Release Form for Child
     - JPL Team Video Release Form for Adult

OBJECTIVE: Create a device that can propel and/or move a golf ball into a target whose center is located 1.5 meters away from the device. Only one attempt is allowed. The team that completes the task in the fastest time will be the winning team.


1) The contest is open to all JPL employees, contractors, and immediate family members. The contest is also open to teams of students from Southern California middle schools and high schools providing that they have completed all required forms as outlined in rules 3 and 4 below.

2) Applications for JPL employees, contractors, and immediate family members entering the contest (found on website) must be filled out and submitted to Public Services prior to midnight November 15, 2013. Completed entry forms should be directed to Public Services at FAX (818) 393-4641, or sent via email to All entries will be time stamped based upon the time received. Only the first 20 JPL/contractor entries will be permitted to compete. Five alternates will be accepted in case some entries withdraw prior to the competition.

JPL employee family members and friends are welcome to watch the contest, but must be cleared through the security office prior to arrival.

3 )In order to make it easier to process badging at JPL, each team must email their completed, typed entry form (found on website) Additionally, to make the badging process flow smoothly each team must mail a printout of their completed student team entry form and the “Authorization and Release for Photos, Audio and/or Video Recordings of and/or Artwork” agreement form (found on website) for each person (student, guest, teacher, and chaperone) planning to attend the JPL contest. Each video release form must be completely filled out and signed. If the student is under 18 years of age, then use the appropriate form filled out and signed by their parent or guardian. The emailed entry form and entire set of video release forms must be filled out and submitted to Public Services no earlier than September 3, 2013 and be postmarked no later than midnight October 5, 2013. Completed forms must be mailed to Public Services at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, M/S 186-113, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109. All entries will be time stamped based upon the time received. Student teams will be notified to verify their acceptance into the contest by October 9, 2013. Questions regarding the entry forms can be directed to Rhonda.M.Dash@jpl.nasa.govin Public Services at (818)354-0112. Each school is allowed no more than three teams. Internal school competitions are encouraged to select the top three teams if necessary.

Any foreign person, 18 or over, student or adult, will need to fill out a special form which is processed by the Public Services Office.  The process takes nearly three weeks; therefore, if anyone plans on attending the contest at JPL, and they are a foreign national, it is important that they contact Public Services prior to November 8, 2013.

Additions or corrections to the registration forms and/or video release forms need to be mailed to the Public Services Office with a postmark no later than Wednesday, November 27, 2013.  Faxed forms will not be accepted. Failure to send in the signed video release form by the requisite time will prevent participation and access to the JPL contest for those students that fail to comply with this request.

4) Only the first 75 student team entries will be permitted to compete at the regional competitions. Student teams will compete at a regional competition held on Saturday, November 23, 2013 at either Augusta Hawkins High School in Los Angeles or Chapman University in Orange. Details for the regional competitions will be sent to all registered teams. The top five teams with the highest score from each regional competition will be invited to compete at the JPL contest held on Friday, December 6, 2013 (see Rule 5 below). In addition, the next 10 teams with the highest scores between both regional competitions will also be invited to compete at the JPL contest.

5) The date and time for the final contest is Friday, December 6, 2013 between 11:30 AM and 1:00 PM. The contest is held at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena, CA 91109. The contest area is located north of the fountain area, in front of the Administration Building (Bldg. 180) steps. In the event of heavy rain (more than mist), the contest will be held indoors. Check-in for the event will begin at 10:15 AM.

6) The device must have the following characteristics:

a. Be able to propel and/or place the officially supplied golf ball from the starting area into the target at the top of the pyramid and have the golf ball remain in the target. Only one attempt is permitted. Absolutely no practicing is allowed on the official contest site.

b. Be no larger than 1.0 meter by 1.0 meter by 1.0 meter prior to the start of the initiation of the device. The device must initially fit inside the starting box as outlined in the contest area. The device may exceed these dimensions after the initiation of the device. The device may not contact the slope of the pyramid, the barrier, the flagpole, or the target. The device cannot contact the golf ball once the golf ball has contacted the target.

c. Be able to accept the officially supplied regulation golf ball which is no more than 45 grams (1.6 ounces) in weight and has a diameter of no less than 42 mm (1.68 inches). No alterations in any manner can be made to the golf ball including, but not limited to, adhesives or tapes.

d. Utilize safe energy sources. Examples of disallowed energy sources are chemical explosions, caustic gases, and rocket motors. High pressure gas systems and other questionable sources must be cleared through Paul MacNeal and the Safety Coordinator prior to performing at both the regional contest and the final contest.

e. Be initiated by a single operation (cut a string, flick a switch, pull a pin, etc.) provided by the contestant.  No human power may be used to add dynamic or potential energy to produce motion in the device. All stored energy systems must be energized prior to starting the task.

f. Be made from any materials as long as they are non-toxic and safe.

g. Place the official entry number provided by the contest organizer (3” high numbers or larger) on at least two sides of the device for easy identification.

h. Not use any clamps, tape, or any other means to attach to the ground. The device must only rest on the ground, however heavy weights may be used.

i. Absolutely no remote control devices of any kind are allowed.

j. Be able to adapt to non-level ground (see Rule 7).

k. SPECIAL RULE FOR SCHOOL TEAMS ONLY: To avoid plagiarism, each team that competes at the regional contest will have photographs taken of their device. The basic concept of the device (energy source, ball movement method, size) must be maintained. Minor modifications to the device are allowed within these constraints.

7) The contest site is located in front of the steps leading to Building 180. The site will contain two side-by-side areas for setting up and operating the device. Each team will be randomly assigned to either operating area. The ground is concrete with a rough finish and has a slight slope. The pyramid and target are level, even if the ground is not. See Figures 1 and 2 for a description of the contest area.

Figure 1

The pyramid, barrier, and target are detailed in a separate document found in the official JPL Invention Challenge website (click here to be taken to this document). The slopes of the pyramid are covered with artificial grass indoor/outdoor carpet. The target has an opening of 6.75 inches by 6.75 inches and is 6.0 inches deep [17.2 cm x 17.2 cm x 15.2 cm]. The side walls and bottom of the target are hard and made from wood. The flagpole is ½ inch [1.3 cm] in diameter and is 24 inches [61 cm] tall. The barrier has a 3.5" [8.9 cm] wide spacing in its center. Please note that the artificial grass overlaps into the initial starting area by 9.8 inches [25 cm] and that this grass material may be moved out of the way if desired by the team.

Figure 2

8) The time that it takes for the ball to enter the target is determined as follows:

a. The time starts when the referee counts down the start as an audible “3...2...1...GO!”

b. The time ends when the golf ball first breaks the plane of the target on its way inside the target and the referee announces an audible “STOP!”

c. If the golf ball does not come to rest inside the target, then the time does not count and the task is considered as INCOMPLETE.

d. If the device contacts the slope of the pyramid, the barrier, the flagpole, or the target, then the time does not count and the task is considered as DISQUALIFIED.

e. If the ball contacts any portion of the device after contacting the target, then the time does not count and the task is considered as DISQUALIFIED.

f. If the golf ball or device damages the target or any portion of the pyramid, the time will not count and the team will be DISQUALIFIED. The judge's decision is final.

9) The order in which teams will participate is selected by a random process. The team will be given a two minute period of time to setup their device. Strict time limits will be imposed to ensure that all contestants are able to operate their device. At the beginning of the setup time period each team will be handed the official golf ball. The team is responsible for placing the golf ball inside their device.

Each team shall designate a speaker that is not involved with the device setup to talk about their team and their device during the setup period. The team will be asked if they are ready to proceed. The referee will give a countdown (3...2...1...GO!) for the start of operation for the device. The timers will start the time at the referee’s direction. The referee will shout “STOP!” when the golf ball breaks the plane of the target and the timers will stop their stopwatch. Any device that is accidentally or intentionally initiated prior to the start of the “GO” command will be grounds for disqualification. At the discretion of the referee, a time penalty may be added to the official time. The referee will also determine if the task has been completed per the rules of the contest. All decisions are final.

Three or more timers will determine the official time for completion of the task and will let the field judge know of their official time. All decisions are final. The field judge will indicate the time on the score sheet to the nearest 0.01 second and add to it any time penalties provided by the referee.

Once the time has been entered into the scoring sheet the team will be asked to remove their device and place it in a designated viewing area as directed by volunteers.

In the event of a tie (official times within 0.05 seconds), each team will be asked to setup their device and run their device another time until the tie is eventually broken.


10) Trophies will be divided into two categories: JPL employees/family/contractor entries and school team entries. Trophies for fastest completion of the task will be given for first, second, and third place for each category at all contests (regional contests and the JPL contest). Certificates will be issued for the lightest, heaviest, smallest, largest, most unusual, most artistic, and most creative designs.