e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry
e s f home link - e s f college of environmental science and forestry

Ping-pong Shoot-off at ESF

Students design and build self-propelled, rubber-band-powered devices

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(Syracuse, N.Y.) – SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) students were tested Monday in a design-engineering project that required them to construct a self-propelled, rubber-band-powered device capable of launching a ping-pong ball and hitting a three-foot target.

And there's more. The launchers had to travel a specified distance, then fire the ping-pong ball and hit the target. Hitting the bull's-eye was worth 10 points, less the further away from the bull's-eye. Points were also awarded for staying within the launch lane and launching within the designated firing range.

Mike Young, a junior from Skaneatles, NY, said, "I've made ping-pong launchers before but, nothing like this."

While another junior, Jeff Borden from Akron, NY, said he was taken with the intricacies involved, "You have to always be thinking a lot about how one thing can affect another."

Young felt the project offered some good experience. He explained, "You have to keep an engineering log book, listing your successes and failures (and) … you do learn a lot about problem solving."

The 36 students in the class were divided into teams of four and supplied with a detailed set of design instructions. Each team had four tries at the target.

"They get a chance to see applied physics," Dr. Douglas J. Daley said, noting the exercise teaches lessons about velocity, force and angle.

Plus, Daley said, "They are learning how to work in teams, how to communicate, how to get a job done with limited time and resources."

The winners were Christopher Straight of North Syracuse, NY, Joseph Tamburello of Rexford, NY, and William Smith of Medford, NY.

Release No. 24, November 6, 2006