On a pleasant day (with virtually no wind), the 2017 JPL Invention Challenge was held on the 180 Mall with more than 350 spectators and participants. This year’s contest objective was to create a device that can put up to 10 wiffle balls into a plastic tub located six meters away within the one minute time allotment. The winner was the team whose device placed the most wiffle balls into the tub.

View event photos.

A total of 20 school teams and 7 JPL teams came up with different ways to accomplish this task. The device concepts were varied such as leaf blowers, surgical tubing, catapults, and cross-bows. The results are shown below for each team.

Entry No. School Name Team Name Number of Balls Official Time Results
021 Diamond Bar Project DefyingGravity 8 28.94 Student - 1st and Most Unusual
022 South East High School Cre8tive 7 38.69 Student - 2nd
043 Lawndale High School The Lizards 5 46.93 Student - 3rd
013  Oakwood School Baby Elephants 5 50.19  
029 Alexander Hamilton High School The Allies  5 60.84  
014 Oakwood School Giraffes 4 55.93 Heaviest (324.2 lbs)
035 Oxford Academy Quantum Leap  3 50.87  
104 Austin DeShong Garage Physics 3 56.38 JPL - 1st
108 Ethiopia Team 2 LaunchETO 2 32.87 DQ - Device was too large
006 Santa Monica High School TEAM AP  2 35.93  
026 Village Christian High School VCS Engineering Team 2 42.29 Largest
030 Ramon C Cortines High School VAPA INVENTONEERS 2 46.01  
032 Lakeside High School Mad Scientist Club 2 50.65  
039 Temple City High School TEAM B Mechanism 2 51.57  
038 Temple City High School TEAM A Mechanism 2 60  
054 Los Angeles High School IC Rainbow  2 61.01  
004 Diamond Bar P.A.C.K.S. 1 33.60  
044 Lawndale High School ZERO 1 34.25  
040 Temple City High School TEAM C Mechanism 1 35.95  
012 New Village Girls Academy Sisters of Science 1 38.21  
041 Heart of Los Angeles HOLA Invention Team  1 49.55  
107 Ethiopia Team 1 Golden Tulip 1 49.74 DQ - hand operated without hard stop; Smallest and Lightest
103 Richard Goldstein Multi Wiffle 0 1.42 JPL - 2nd
102 Kristan Ellis  Thar She Blows 0 21.45 JPL - 3rd
079 Nobel Charter Middle School Team Jupiter 0 50.87 Most Creative
106 Feza Boys' Secondary School Rafiki 0 60 Most Artistic
105 Gouri Butani Botani Bolotin 0 60.04  
027 Alexander Hamilton High School Bungo Chungus and the Hunky Chunks     No show - Transportation mishap
109 MEK (Turkey)       No Show   


I wish to thank all of the volunteers (listed below) that put on the show.  Without their help, the event would not have been possible.  A special thanks goes out to Kim Lievense and her Public Services team, headed by Kim Johansen, for collecting the entry forms and video release forms and processing more than 250 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 contest and the foreign national escorts (Carmen, Ravita, Sherry, and Christine) that assisted the foreign national teams this year.

Name Position
Paul MacNeal Organizer
Alessandro Buscicchio General Helper
Carmen Tanielian Assistant to organizer
Ravita Kartawinata Assistant to organizer
Sherry Stukes Assistant to organizer
Christine Walker Assistant to organizer
Phoebe Rhodes-Wickett Recording Secretary
Jared Stallings Recording Secretary
Chris Landry Referee
Robert Denise Announcer
Lyn Repath-Martos Check-in
Bernardo Lopez Check-in
Vuong Phan Check-in
Brian Lau Check-in
Ezra Abrahami Safety
Kristine Babaian Safety
Kristen MacNeal Timer
Sheila Murthy Timer
Fannie Chen Timer
Melissa Brown Timer
Fabien Nicaise Field Judge
Elham Maghsoudi Field Judge
Paul Ries Ball Retreiver
Rain Zhou Ball Retreiver
Stephanie Zajac Area Patroller
Perry Ramsey Area Patroller
David Breda Area Patroller
Dudee Chiang Area Patroller
Joseph Joe Set - up helper
Kim Sinclair Set - up helper
Bill Frazier Set - up helper
Genie Luzwick Set - up helper
Dustin Lagoy Clean-up Helper
Bryan Johnson Photographer
Hannah Boykins Photographer
Manan Ayra Photographer
Jonathan Welsher Videographer
Brad Smith Judge
Shereef Surur Judge