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High School Students to Split the Uprights

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Let the countdown to kickoff begin.

The 19th annual High School Design Competition hosted by the University of Kansas School of Engineering will take place Tuesday, Oct. 31. Teams of students in ninth through 12th grades will have an opportunity to "Split the Uprights" as they design a football-themed kicking machine.

Working in teams of up to six students each, participants must design and build a device that can launch pingpong balls through a 2-foot wide football goal post. The competitors will be judged on three factors:

- greatest number of successful kicks in 60-seconds

- highest point total, and

- longest kick.

To add more challenge to the competition, teams will need to kick the ping-pong balls over the outline of a 3-foot tall "lineman" placed two feet away from their launching device.

Teams must


by Oct. 17. 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.

Rules and a schedule of activities appear below and will be clarified as questions arise. Teachers, mentors and students are encouraged to check back often. Questions on the competition should be directed to

Janelle Dozar,

(785) 864-2931

Split the Uprights Rules


To design construct a machine to shoot pingpong balls into a 2-foot wide goal post. The crossbar will be at a 5-foot minimum.


The machine can be manufactured from any material. However, the machine cannot be commercially available.

Test Apparatus:

The 2-foot wide, 5-foot high goal post will have a designated spot on the floor. The machine should shoot from a 2-foot height (Release height) and must be able to shoot over a 3-foot "lineman" 2-feet in front of the "kicker."

Test Procedure:

The machine will be loaded manually or automatically. The release point of the "kicker" will determine the distance for point values of each kick. On command, the machine will launch pingpong balls toward the goal post for 60 seconds. Judges will count the number of balls successfully shot into the goal. The machine may be moved during the competition. The device must only launch one ball at a time. The top four teams will be placed in the final round to take place around 1:30 that afternoon.

Design Rules:

1. The machine can be any size, but must be able to fit through a standard door.

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

3. No electric blowers will be allowed.

4. Goals made from a distance of 6 feet to 12 feet will be counted as 1 points.

5. Goals made from a distance of 12 feet, 1 inch to 18 feet will be counted as 2 points.

6. Goals made from a distance of 18 feet, 1 inch and longer will be counted as 3 points.

7. Release height cannot be higher than 24 inches.

8. Distances are measured from the center of the goal post.

9. Pingpong balls have to be shot by a machine, not a human.

10. Pingpong balls cannot be altered in any way.

11. Teams must supply their own pingpong balls.

12. Teams must retrieve their own pingpong balls.

13. Team size cannot exceed six students.

14. Each team will be allowed three minutes to "setup," one minute for the competition, and one minute clean up. Total time is 5 minutes.

15. Anyone violating "the spirit of the competition" will be disqualified.

16. Rules will be modified/clarified as questions arise.

CLARIFICATIONS to the rules:

1. Devices may be powered by electricity from an outlet. Posted 09/25/06

2. The use of compressed air is considered the same as a blower and would result in disqualification. Posted 09/25/06

3. Devices do not have to employ or display a kicking motion to launch the ping-pong balls. Posted 09/25/06

4. Only one ping-pong ball may be in the air at a time. Posted 9/28/06

5. Team members may manually pull back a release mechanism, such as a slingshot or other device. Throwing ping-pong balls is not allowed. Posted 9/28/06

6. All ping-pong balls must be launched from the same device, althought teams could develop a device with a multiple launch system. However, as stated earlier, only one ball may be in the air at a time and the device must kick over the "lineman" at the specified distance. Posted 9/28/06

7. The 60-second clock will pause if a team decides to move their device to a different distance. The team will have one minute to move the device, set it in the new position and resume kicking. The 60-second shot clock will resume once the team begins kicking again. The "lineman" will not be attached to the team's machine, but will move to the new position when a team moves during competition. Posted 9/28/06

8. Teams may use string, a remote control, or variety of devices to begin the kicking motion. Posted 9/28/06

9. hand- or foot-powered pumps, such as a bicycle pump, that do not use a cylindrical canister of air, may be used. Posted 10/2/06

10. The ping-pong ball does not have to hit the ground before the next one is sent. However, it must break the vertical plane created by the uprights (even if it does not score) before the next ball can be launched. School of Engineering judges will have the final decision on whether a team has a second ball in the air before a previous kick breaks the plane. Posted 10-2-06

11. Ping-pong balls should be 40 mm in diameter and 2.7 grams. Posted 10-2-06

12. Air-moving fans are considered another form of blower and are not allowed. Posted 10-2-06

Split the Uprights Schedule of Events

KU School of Engineering's 19th Annual High School Design Competition

Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006, Eaton Hall

8 - 9 a.m.

Check-in & Registration, ground level of Eaton Hall in the atrium. Teams and teachers receive schedules, event times, and register for a drawing giveaway.

9 a.m.

Introduction & Welcome, Dean of Engineering Stuart Bell, Spahr Engineering Classroom, Eaton Hall

9:15 a.m.

Overview of Activities, Associate Dean Sorem, Spahr Engineering Classroom

9:30 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.

Design Competition, Spahr Classroom

10 a.m. - 1:30 p.m.

Demonstrations, Displays and Tours, an opportunity for teams to learn more about engineering and research at KU.

12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

Lunch, sub sandwiches, chips, cookies and sodas will be provide for students and their teachers in the Eaton Hall atrium

1:30 - 2:30 p.m.

Finals and Awards Presentation, all participants will be able to watch finals with awards and recognition to follow.

One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
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Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
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