Los Altos Academy of Engineering

JPL Invention Challenge: 2004

JPL Invention Challenge 2004 Team


Team Members (from left to right): Peter Xu, Eric Huang, Aaron Mayeda, Robert Navarro, Ben Zhou, Justin Hsieh, Jeffrey Cui

This year is the seventh year of JPL's Annual Invention Challenge. The title for the 2004 competition is the Bowling Ball Drop. The objective of the challenge is to get a 10 pound [4.5 kg] bowling ball from a 1.5 meter high platform to a spring-loaded pan approximately 6 inches off of the ground and not crush an egg 2 centimeters below the pan.

Our plans for the device had changed over the course of several weeks ranging from using springs to slow down the ball to a trap door above the pan. We decided to go with the trap door idea because our initial idea was not feasible considering the size of available space to work with.

At the competition, we found out that we could not use our hands to push the bowling ball so that greatly altered our strategy and left us with a disqualifying entry. After last-minute improvisations, we created a legal starting motion and took 3rd place as well as Most Creative Entry.

Information on JPL's Annual Invention Challenge can be found on their website here.

Images related to the competition are shown below. Click an image to view in its full size.

JPL 2004 - Trap door
Our trap door with a cereal box as cushioning.
JPL 2004 - Motor opening trap door
The motor that opens our trap door.
JPL 2004 - Team
JPL 2004 - Team
JPL 2004 - Contraption
Our contraption.
JPL 2004 - Operation
It works. For the most part.
JPL 2004 - Team
JPL 2004 - Peter's award
Peter accepts the award for Most Creative for the team.
JPL 2004 - Team at competition
Team Picture at JPL.
JPL 2004 - Viewers
The viewers.
JPL 2004 - Anticipation
The Anticipation
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