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MEDIA ADVISORY: Students Will Use Mousetrap and Rubber Band Power to Launch Blue Jay Beanie Babies

Johns Hopkins Freshman Engineering Contest Allows No Batteries or Other Electronics

December 6, 2016
Media Contact: Phil Sneiderman
Office: 443-997-9907; Cell: 410-299-7462
prs@jhu.edu On Twitter: @JHUmediareps


WHEN: 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 7.

WHERE: On stage in the Shriver Hall Auditorium on The Johns Hopkins University’s Homewood campus, 3400 N. Charles St., Baltimore, Md. (Media camera crews will be allowed on stage.) Shriver Hall is Building 66 on the campus map that can be viewed at this site: http://bit.ly/1PMlz2J. Parking is available in the nearby South Garage.

WHO: Forty-three Johns Hopkins freshmen from an introductory mechanical engineering course will compete. Teams of two or three students have each built a two-part device, together powered by no more than two mousetraps and three rubber bands.

WHAT: Each team’s launching component will be positioned atop one of two elevated platforms on the Shriver Hall stage, a short distance from two upward-sloping ramps.

On top of or within each team’s launching component, the students must install a “vehicle” that carries a Blue Jay Beanie Baby, selected in honor of the university’s sports mascot. Each launch system must include a student-designed timing mechanism to control when the launch occurs. Certain materials from the class lab and elsewhere could be utilized to build the components, but the total cost for each project could not exceed $15.

THE CONTEST: Through a series of competitions involving two teams at a time, the launch devices must hurl their vehicles toward their respective ramps. However, the students’ timing mechanisms must control these launches so that they occur between 5 and 30 seconds after the official start of each match. The winner of each match is the team whose blue jay comes to rest farthest from its respective ramp.

WHY: While working on their projects, students have been learning about design approaches, potential and kinetic energy, friction, prototyping methods and other topics relevant to mechanical engineering. In addition, the project requires teamwork and careful planning, which both will be important in an engineering workplace. Some devices may fall during the matches, so students have been urged to make their creations durable and reusable.

CONTEST JUDGE AND FACULTY SUPERVISOR FOR THE EVENT: Steven Marra, an associate teaching professor in the Department of Mechanical Engineering, teaches the course and will serve as judge. “This is the first experience many of our incoming engineering students have in actually designing and building something,” Marra said. “It sets the stage for several increasingly more advanced design projects they will complete during their engineering education at Johns Hopkins.”

Prior to the competition, Marra can be interviewed by calling his office, 410-516-0034. To obtain detailed rules and guidelines regarding the student competition, contact Marra.

A video about a previous Johns Hopkins mousetrap and rubber band design competition involving student-built ground vehicles can be viewed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y3DhgSXha-M.


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