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High School Students Deliver High-Flying Results in Competition

Friday, November 3, 2006
[Judges signal the kick was good.]

It's official: The Back in Black team from Remington High School in Whitewater, Kan., used its copious brain matter to rise as champion of the 19th Annual High School Design Competition at the University of Kansas School of Engineering.

The Oct. 31 event, dubbed Split the Uprights, had students "kicking" pingpong balls through a miniature goal post by using a device they designed and built. Two-hundred and fifty high school students from 27 schools from across the state and the Kansas City metro area took part in the daylong activity.

Brains once again proved they can be far more exciting than brawn. Pingpong balls flew through the air at a near-alarming rate at each of the four kicking stations in Spahr Engineering Classroom and the Eaton Hall atrium. There were no injuries, however some errant pingpong balls were crushed by the crowd of onlookers. The breadth of designs ideas brought in by the 59 teams spanned the limits of imagination and resources. Teams employed old bicycle tires, empty 2-liter bottles, springs, plastic spoons, bungee cords, motorized drills, bellows, pvc pipe and, of course, duct tape.

[Topeka High students follow the trajectory of their kick.]

The High School Design Competition is structured to give students a challenging team project that demonstrates the fun of engineering. A new design project is developed each year so all schools are on a level playing field.

For Split the Uprights, teams had to focus their designs to maximize performance in three areas: Longest kick, most successful kicks within the time allotted and most points. The last category gave teams additional points for successful kicks farther away from the goal post. In all three categories, teams had to clear a 3-foot tall "blocker" that was placed 2 feet away from their device. Their devices could only be powered by clean systems that produced no noxious fumes. Devices that used electric blowers and cylinders of compressed air also were barred from placing in the competition.

"It was amazing to see the ingenuity the students brought to this contest," said Robert Sorem, associate dean for undergraduate studies in the School of Engineering. "Some teams developed complex systems, while others chose to create simple machines that delivered consistent results.

"We were pleased with the turnout as well. Not only was it exciting, but we learned something about the next generation of engineers. They show amazing resourcefulness. I think the students also were able to learn from each other. They saw there are many different ways to deliver a workable solution. While some devices shared similarities, no two were alike."

[A team from Shawnee Mission South High School gets into the spirit of the contest.]

The following teams were honored for their results at the competition.

Top Competitors Overall

(Based on ranking of all teams in each of the three contest categories)

1. Back in Black, Remington High School, Whitewater, Kan.

2. Viking #3, Seaman High School, Topeka, Kan.

3. Viking #1, Seaman High School

Longest Kick

1. PHS #2, Pamona High School, Pamona, Kan. (51 feet)

2. (tie) Back in Black, Remington High School (43 feet)

Neodesha #2 , Neodesha, Kan. (43 feet)

Most Successful Kicks

1. Lawrence Red, Lawrence High School, Lawrence, Kan. (101 field goals)

2. Viking #3, Seaman High School, (86 field goals)

3. Viking #1, Seaman High School, (80 field goals)

Most Points

(Goals kicked from 6 feet to 12 feet earned 1 point. Two points were awarded for successful goals kicked between 12 feet, 1 inch and 18 feet. Three points were awarded for successful goals kicks beyond 18 feet, 1 inch.)

1. Viking #3, Seaman High School (142 points)

2. Viking #1, Seaman High School (123)

3. (tie) Pioneers #4, Wichita High School West, Wichita, Kan. (123)

Back in Black, Remington High School (123)

Click here to view the individual results of all teams.



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