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High School Contest Will Get Jayhawks Flying

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

[University of Kansas Jayhawk, Rock Chalk]

High school students will get the chance to see Jayhawks fly at the 2007 High School Design Competition Tuesday, Oct. 30, at the University of Kansas School of Engineering.

The annual competition will let teams of students in ninth through 12th grade test their creative and technical talents as they design and build an undersized helium-filled dirigible that can move under its own power as it carries a small toy Jayhawk.

Working in teams of three or four students at their schools, participants must design, construct and test their dirigible so that it can move across an "airfield" carrying a stuffed toy Jayhawk weighing .6 ounce. The entire airship (including any basket to hold the Jayhawk payload) should be designed to fit in a box measuring 24 inches wide, by 36 inches tall by 24 inches deep. To add challenge to the contest, students may not use remote control devices, compressed air or gas, or combustible fuels to power movement or guide their airship. The School of Engineering will provide helium during the contest, which will allow teams to easily transport their airships to the competition.

The competitors will be judged on the speed of their entry and the accuracy of their entry or the ability of the device to stay true to course. There also will be awards for the best use of recycled materials and the best use of creativity in design.

Teams must register at the KU School of Engineering Web site by Oct. 16. All activities take place at Eaton Hall on the KU Lawrence campus. Check-in begins at 8 a.m. Competition begins at 9:30 a.m. Lunch will be provided for all participants and parking passes will be available for registering schools. All high schools, virtual high schools and home-school programs at the high school level are welcome to participate.

Rules and a


of activities are available at the KU School of Engineering Web site and will be clarified as questions arise. Teachers, mentors and students are encouraged to check back often. Questions on the competition, including rule clarifications, should be directed to

Joda Totten,

(785) 864-2931.

Jayhawks in the Jet Stream Rules


To design and construct a helium-filled airship that can travel 50 feet under its own power carrying a .6 ounce payload.


The airship can be manufactured from any material. However, commercially available airships will not be allowed. The device may not be powered by remote controlled devices, nor compressed air or gas, or combustible fuels. The airship must have a basket or carriage to contain the payload.

Test Apparatus:

The airship must travel 50 feet in a large interior space with a ceiling at 2 stories. The airship must have a permanently attached string at least 20 feet long to aid with retrieval. The payload measures roughly 5 inches tall by 2.25 inches wide and 2.5 inches deep and weighs .6 ounces. Prior to flight, the helium-filled airship must fit in a qualifying box measuring 24 inches wide, by 36 inches tall by 24 inches deep.

Test Procedure:

If not already filled, the airship will be filled on site with helium provided by the KU School of Engineering. The filled airship will be certified as fit for competition by being placed inside the qualifying box. All parts of the airship must fit inside the box. The team will then ready the airship for release at the start line. The airship, with payload, must travel the length of the flight path under its own power. Each flight will be timed. Penalty time for lateral movement away from the final destination will be added to each run (1 second for every five feet away from target). The four teams with fastest composite times will take part in a final round of competition at 1:30 p.m.

Safety Advisory:

All participants are reminded that inhaling helium is extremely dangerous as it deprives the body of necessary oxygen. Helium can kill people who inhale it. Do not inhale helium.

Design Rules:

1. The entire airship (including carriage and any wings or tails) must be able to fit in a box measuring 24 inches wide, by 36 inches tall by 24 inches deep.

2. The machine can only be powered by “clean systems.” No noxious fumes may be emitted.

3. No remote control devices will be allowed. Compressed air or gas are not allowed.

4. The Jayhawk payload must stay in the carriage or basket for the duration of the flight. The Jayhawk may not be damaged as part of the “boarding process,” e.g. no duct tape or staples may be used.

5. The airship must have a 20-foot long string or tether permanently attached.

6. Other than the tether, no part of the airship or its payload may touch the ground during the flight.

7. Each team will have two attempts to travel the required 50-foot distance. The team’s best time will be used for judging.

8. Each team must prepare and deliver a printed report that details the use of recycled materials in the airship.

9. Team size cannot exceed four students.

10. Each team will be allowed three minutes to “set up,” before each flight.

11. Anyone violating “the spirit of the competition” will be disqualified.

12. Rules will be modified/clarified as questions arise and posted below. Participants are advised to check back frequently.

Rules Modifications and Clarifications

1. The dirigibles will be launched by a student or students on the team. The dirigible should be launched from a height roughly three and five feet above the floor at the start line. Posted 9/20/07

2. The list of recycled materials should identify how the materials are used. Teams may use new parts/materials as well. Posted 9/20/07

3. Batteries may be used to power the dirigible’s movement. Posted 9/20/07

4. There is no requirement regarding how high off the ground the dirigible must fly, however, with the exception of the tether, no part of the dirigible may touch the ground during flight. Posted 9/20/07

5. The shape of the dirigible can be oriented horizontally or vertically. The only requirement is that the filled airship and all it parts fit completely in a box measuring 24 inches by 24 inches by 36 inches. Posted 9/20/07

6. Electric motors may be used to power the aircraft. Posted 9/27/07

7. The dirigibles will be filled with the standard nozzle commonly found on helium tanks used in florist shops and party supply stores. Posted 9/27/07

8. A filled balloon releasing its contents as a means of propulsion is not considered the same as compressed gas and is allowable. CO2 cartridges are consider compressed gas and will not be allowed. Posted 10/5/07

9. The dirigible must be launched at a standstill. Team members may not assist its forward progress by pushing or throwing the device. Posted 10/8/07

10. Tracks, guide wires or strings that run from the start line to the finish line may not be used to guide the movement of the dirigible. Posted 10/10/07

11. The dirigible may be crammed into the box to take advantage of all available space, however all parts of the airship must be able to fit inside the box at the same time. Portions of the dirigible may unfurl after removal from the box. Posted 10/26/07.

12. All teams should strive to ensure helium is contained during the box-measuring test. If, after measuring, a team needs to refill the dirigible, helium is available. In such cases, a team should display integrity and adhere to the spirit of the competition and make all efforts to ensure the subsequent inflation meets the guidelines described above in the Test Procedure. Posted 10/26/07

13. The Jayhawk payload may be tied to the dirigible basket or carriage. No damage should befall the Jayhawk as a result of the securing or deplaning process. Posted 10/26/07

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