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2011 High School Design Competition Unveiled

Friday, September 9, 2011

KU Scholarships

The KU School of Engineering has generous scholarships for talented high school seniors who apply by Nov. 1, 2011. These scholarships can be added to the University's awards as well as to scholarships from School of Engineering departments. Learn about all the opportunities within the KU School of Engineering on our

scholarships page

for prospective students.

Lawrence will soon be hopping with hundreds of high school students from Kansas and the Kansas City metro area as they strive to leap to the top of the pack of engineering teams in the region at an upcoming competition sponsored by the University of Kansas School of Engineering.

The 2011 High School Design Competition is set for Nov. 8 at Eaton Hall. This year’s event, titled “Rock Hop Jayhawk,” encourages competitors to design a small mechanical device capable of launching itself in vertical, horizontal, and combined jumps. This year an additional competition will be offered to students that will have students jumping into the programming side of engineering with Lego Mindstorm kits. 

Registration for the competition is now closed.

When not leaping and bounding, students can occupy themselves with a competition to be announced on the day of the event that will force them to think outside the box.

Lunch and competition t-shirts will be provided to the competitors.

This annual event is held to demonstrate the fun and competitive nature of engineering to high school students with the hope that it sparks their interest in engineering and opens the door to the opportunities it can bring.

Check out last year’s competition,

Claim the Terrain.


Rock Hop Jayhawk Challenge Overview

Working in groups of up to four students (ninth - 12


grade), each team must design and build a small, self-propelled device that can leap vertically, horizontally, and at an angle. Designs must be submitted to contest coordinators by Oct. 25 for their approval.  The jumping device must be completely constructed prior to arrival at the competition on Nov. 8.  Check-in begins at 8:30 a.m. and the competition begins promptly at 9:15 a.m. in Eaton Hall at the University of Kansas.

In the preliminary round, teams will have five minutes on each challenge to perform three trials.  Points will be awarded based on how each team performs relative to every other team in the competition.  Each team also will give a presentation to a panel of judges with a visual aid on their design.  Points will be awarded for a team’s presentation and overall design. The top five teams from each individual challenge (based on points awarded) will proceed to the finals.  The top five teams overall will also compete in each individual competition again to determine the grand champion.   

Jumping Device Rules

By Oct. 25, each team must submit their design to the KU School of Engineering to assess capabilities, possible damage and safety of the device.  Click


for the form.  Designs may be submitted prior to this date, but late entries will not be accepted.  If the design is rejected, teams will be allowed to modify and resubmit designs by Nov. 1.  Any major changes made to the device calls for a resubmission of the design.  If there are questions about whether something should be approved, submit it for approval. 

  •  Both before and after deployment, the device must fit within a box that is 12 inches by 12 inches by 18 inches (It may be 18 inches any way; height, width, or length)

  •  Device must be larger than 3 inches by 3 inches by 3 inches

  •  The mechanism must be purely mechanical; there can be no loss of mass during the entire process

  •  There must be no more than one single instantaneous force providing lift to the device

  •  The device must be completely self-contained; the entire device must perform the jump with no pieces coming detached (no individual launch pads/ independent launching mechanism)

  •  No pre-packaged kits may be used

  •  No fire, compressed air, or combustibles may power this device

  •  Animals are not allowed

  •  Teams cannot aid in the propulsion of the device

  •  Judges reserve the right to disqualify a team that is found to be violating the spirit of the competition

UPDATED INFORMATION -- Please keep in mind the spirit of the competition. Maintain safety in all devices and please avoid cutting corners with the rules. Also, be extremely careful with the dimension requirement for the device. This is a very easy place to violate the spirit of the competition. For example, if a device is originally 2 inches by 2 inches by 2 inches and the team chooses to meet the requirements by adding wire to create a device whose maximum dimensions are 3 inches in length, width and height, it will likely be disqualified.  Updated 10-28-11.


There will be four different events: a horizontal, vertical, and an angled trajectory challenge, as well as a design presentation.  For each challenge, teams will have 5 minutes to complete three trials.  The scoring will be based on each team’s most successful trial.  Time will start when the team is called.  A ‘trial’ is completed if the device leaves the ground.  

Horizontal Challenge:

The device will be launched from a wooden platform onto a pad that is initially two feet wide and is six feet wide at its maximum width. Devices are required to land on the pad in order to score points.  Horizontal distance covered on the hop will be recorded and once all teams have competed, the team that covered the greatest distance will receive 1 point, the team that covered the second greatest distance will receive 2 points, etc., until all teams have been awarded points.  For a design of the challenge, click


Vertical Challenge:

Devices will be launched off of a wooden box and must land in a taped off, five foot by five foot area to score points.  If a device is launched and lands outside of the taped, launch base perimeter, trial will be disqualified.  Gymnasium mats, similar to the one found

on this site

, will surround the wooden box.   A backdrop will be used to determine the height of each jump.  Multiple judges will measure height and if contestants wish to protest the announced height, a camera will be used to determine the exact height.  As in the vertical competition, 1 point is awarded to the highest team, 2 points for the second highest, etc., until all teams have been awarded points. 

Angled Trajectory:

A wooden launch pad will sit one foot away from a staircase that is 4 feet wide.  Each step is 1 foot deep and 6 inches high.  The device will be scored based on the highest step that the entire device surmounts (if a device hits the back of the 4


step and falls backward to the 3


, the team will be awarded points for the 4


step).  After each team has gone, scores will be awarded.  Score is awarded 1 point for the highest, 2 points for the second highest, etc., until all teams have been awarded points. For a design of the challenge, click


UPDATED INFORMATION: The stairs will be moved away from the wall so if your device projects itself past the eighth step, it will overshoot the entire staircase. In this scenario, you will receive zero points. Points will only be awarded if your device lands or hits on one of the eight steps. The rule still stands that if the entire device surpasses the leading edge of the fifth step, hits the back of the fifth step and falls back to rest on the fourth step, points will be awarded for the fifth step. With the removal of the wall backing the stairs, there will be an addition of a 6-inch wooden backstop to act as the back of the eighth step. The angled trajectory competition is meant to test the accuracy of your device, while the horizontal competition is more centered on propulsion strength.

Those teams that reach the eighth step will receive the greatest score (1), while those teams that reach the seventh step without falling off the stairs will receive the second greatest score (2).  Updated 10-28-11

Design Presentation:

Each team will give a five-minute presentation on the design of their vehicle and how it was engineered. The team must have a visual aid to show the design process.  Team members will explain device to a panel of judges and answer a few questions about their design process. All team members must speak during the presentation.  Scores for the design presentation will be based on a 50 point system:

  •   Design/Creativity: 20 points

  •   Presentation Board: 15 points

  •   Presentation Skills: 15 points

After each team has presented, scores will be analyzed and the team with the highest presentation score will receive one point, the team with the second highest presentation score will receive two points, etc., until all teams have been awarded points. 

Points System:

For all challenges, a team’s best trial will be the only one that earns points.  Each of the four challenges will be equally weighted, so the minimum (best possible) score for the entire competition will be 4 points.  After all the competitions have been completed, scores will be analyzed and the finalists will be determined (presentation scores do not factor into final round qualifications). 


There will be four final challenges: Vertical Challenge Finals, Horizontal Challenge Finals, Angled Trajectory Finals, and an Overall Finals.  The top five from each individual challenge will compete in the corresponding final.  The top five overall performers will perform each individual challenge again to determine an overall winner.  Points will be given in the same manner as in preliminary rounds.  If a team is in the Overall Finals and another Final, their performance for the Individual Event Final will count as their score for the Overall Finals for that challenge.


  • If a design breaks during a team’s 5-minute execution period, the team will have 10 minutes to make any necessary corrections and continue that event.

  • Between competitions, your device may be altered but no additions/subtractions can be made.  The components of your device must be identical for all challenges.

  • If and when teams tie, they will receive the same number of points.  If four teams tie for first, the fifth place team will receive 2 points, not 5.  This same method will be used for any and all ties.


            Overall Champion

            Best Horizontal Hopper

            Best Vertical Hopper

            Best Angled Trajectory Hopper

            Best Presentation

            Best Design

Any questions may be directed to

Matt Vestal

l.  A Q & A section will be created as questions are received.  Check back regularly for updates.


LEGO Mindstorm Challenge

Interested in robotics, programming, or Legos? The University of Kansas School of Engineering will be hosting a Lego Mindstorm competition that combines all three! This year's competition requires constructing a robot to traverse a maze (see a




of the course) and is being held concurrently with this year’s High School Design competition, Rock Hop Jayhawk.

Teams competing in the LEGO Mindstorm challenge will be provided with kits. The number of teams, however, is limited, so registration for the LEGO Mindstorm challenge does not guarantee entry into the competition. Teams registering for the LEGO Mindstorm challenge will be contacted via e-mail after they register and asked to submit a description of their team structure and an explanation of why they wish to participate. Kits must be returned at the conclusion of the competition in good condition and with all parts included.  Click


for a complete list of the rules.

Questions about the LEGO Mindstorm challenge may be submitted to

Charles Neiss


Rock Hop Jayhawk Q & A

-- Please see updated response to the multiple spring question below --

-- Please see updated response to the "8th step" question below --

Q: Does the launch pad on the Horizontal Challenge have a back that the device may use to push off?

A: There is no back to the launch pad for any of the challenges.  The device must find a way to propel itself in the horizontal direction.


Q: Can the device be remote controlled?

A: The only part of the device that may be remote controlled is the single instantaneous release of energy.  The device may not break any other rules.


Q: May pneumatics be used?

A: The use of pneumatics will result in disqualification as the use of pressurized gas will, in most cases, result in a loss of mass for the overall system.


Q: Can a hand be used to instigate motion?

A: Students may use their hands to place the device and set any mechanisms.  The release of the hand can be simultaneous with the acceleration of the device, however, it may only release a force, not provide it.


Q: May a form of liquid nitrogen be used as a propellant?

A: The use of liquid nitrogen will result in disqualification because it is a chemical reaction.  The device must be purely mechanical.


Q: Which point of the device will be measured on the vertical challenge?  How will devices of varying heights be compared fairly?

A: The scores on the vertical challenge will be based on the highest point that the entire device surpasses.  For example, if your device is 12 inches tall and jumps vertically so that the bottom of the device reaches a maximum height of four feet, this is the height that will be recorded.  


Q: If a device is 3 inches x 2 inches x 5 inches, does this meet the size requirement?

A: No, the device must be at least 3 inches in every dimension.  


Q: If my device exceeds the 8th step on the angled trajectory, will I be awarded extra points?

A: -- UPDATED 10-28-1 -- No, however, this question has prompted organizers to review and revise additional aspects of the competition. Please refer to the section on the Angled Trajectory, above. 

(Original response from 10-24-11 -- No.  The stairs will be placed against a wall and any device that passes the 8th step and hits the wall (within the 4 foot width of the stairs) will be awarded points for the eighth stair.)


Q: Can jumping devices use more than one spring to propel the device?

A: -- UPDATED 10-27-11--  Yes. After reviewing multiple design submissions and fielding questions regarding the "one single instantaneous force" rule, officials have decided that on the day of the competition, jumping devices will be judged in two separate categories: those with one single energy system (one spring, one rubber band, etc.) and those with multiple energy systems (two or more springs, tow or more rubber bands, etc.). If more than one energy system is present in the device, it will fall in the second category, regardless of whether the devices are activated simultaneously. This will allow all teams to continue with their submitted designs but also ensure the competition is fair. The category in which each device falls will be determined by the judges on the day of the competition.

(Original response from 10-24-11 -- No.  The rules state that there must be no more than one single instantaneous force providing lift to the device.)


Mindstorm Q & A

Q: Is the sand in the first Lego Mindstorm maze going to be wet?

A: No, it will be dry sand, akin to what one would find in a playground sandbox.



2011 Competition Final Results

Overall Results -

Single Propulsion Device

1. Lions 5 (Lawrence High School)

2. Lions 2 (Lawrence High School)

3. Olathe Northwest 11

Overall Results -

Multiple Propulsion Devices

1. Ravens (Maur Hill)

2. LC 4 (Labette County High School)

3. Olathe Northwest 1


1. A-Cubed (Lawrence Free State High School)

2. Black with White Stripes (Wellsville High School)

3. Lions 5 (Lawrence High School)

Individual Category Results

- Single Propulsion Device

Horizontal Competition

1. Lions 5 (Lawrence High School)

2. Lions 2 (Lawrence High School)

3. Olathe Northwest 11

Vertical Competition

1. Lions 2 (Lawrence High School)

2. Lions 4 (Lawrence High School)

3. Lions 1 (Lawrence High School)

Angled Trajectory

1. Lions 5 (Lawrence High School)

2. Olathe Northwest 11

3. Lions 1 (Lawrence High School)

Individual Category Results

- Multiple Propulsion Devices

Horizontal Competition

1. Ravens (Maur Hill)

2. LC 4 (Labette County High School)

3. Olathe Northwest 1

Vertical Competition

1. Olathe Northwest 1

2. Flashy Sparrows (Atchison High School)

3. Ravens (Maur Hill)

Angled Trajectory

1. Ravens (Maur Hill)

2. LC 4 (Labette County High School)

3. Winfield 3


Lego Mindstorm Competition


1. Bulldog 1 (Odessa (Mo.) High School)

2. Loco Caballo (McLouth High School)

3. Blazers (Gardner-Edgerton High School)

Course 1

1. Loco Caballo (McLouth High School)

2. Bulldog 1 (Odessa (Mo.) High School)

3. Blazers (Gardner-Edgerton High School)

Course 2

1. Loco Caballo/Bulldog 1 (tie)

2. Blazers (Gardner-Edgerton High School)

3. Flat Lines (Junction City High School)

Course 3

1. Bulldog 1 (only team to successfully complete the course)

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