Jump to main content

Paper Ball Run—2022 Fluor Engineering Challenge

Build a Ball Run with The Longest Path Time

The 2022 competition is over, but you can still try this challenge for fun! Can you build a ball ramp out of just paper and tape? How can you make the ball's path take as many seconds as possible to complete?

Fluor Challenge 2022

Congratulation to All Participants

During the 2022 Fluor Engineering Challenge window, over 11,000 students from 26 countries built a range of paper ball runs. We were impressed to see the range of designs students, ages 6 to 18, came up with. Using up to 30 sheets of paper and tape, some student teams built twisty paths, others opted for elements that added friction or flippers to pass through, and others tried out long, gently sloping runs. The goal was to create a ball run with the longest travel time and there were some truly innovative designs including an awesome use of a pulley system to bring the ping-pong ball up to the top of again and double the run time. What we were most impressed with though, is the effort and learning put in by so many students. Building a self-supporting structure out of just paper and tape can be difficult and we applaud every team for sticking with the task and problem-solving through the problems that arose.

A collage consisting of seven teams of students; each team has a ball run made out of paper and tape.
Figure 1. A few of the teams who submitted paper ball runs for the 2022 Fluor Engineering Challenge

"I loved this challenge because my students were really engaged in this activity. I learned that some of them love building things like this, they loved the challenges they faced each day with it. One student told me he could not sleep one night because he was so excited about working on his paper ball run the next day. Thank you for this wonderful challenge and opportunity for my students to think like engineers!"
—Clara Potts, Teacher

Drawing Winners

All eligible team entries were placed into random prize drawings based on their geographic location. Congratulations to the ten winning teams listed in Table 1 whose names were drawn from the eligible pools! Each of these teams earned $1,000 USD from Fluor for their school.

Team School / Program
Houston Metropolitan Area, TX
The Challenge Kids Harmony School of Achievement in Houston, TX
Greenville Metropolitan Area, SC
Rollers 2 Summit Drive Elementary in Greenville, SC
Orange County, CA
LosAlisosCA/LE Los Alisos Intermediate in Mission Viejo, CA
Calgary, Alberta
The 3 Amigos Centennial High School in Calgary, Alberta
United States (including Puerto Rico)
Team Unstoppable White Co Middle School in Sparta, TN
Tiger 51 New London Jr-Sr High School in New London, IA
Rollercoaster Joseph A Taub School in Paterson, NJ
International
CWS Adelaide Botanic High School in Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Awesome Horse Miniota Elementary School in Miniota, Manitoba, Canada
Right or Pong St. Mary's School Ascot in Ascot, Berkshire, England
Table 1. Random drawing winners of the 2022 Fluor Engineering Challenge

Top Ten Scores Overall

The Fluor Challenge is open to students in grades K-12. The top 10 scores, overall, for the 2022 Fluor Challenge are shown in Table 2. All scores are validated by Science Buddies staff based on submission photos and the Challenge rules. Regardless of score, all entries that met the geographic requirements were entered in the random drawings.
Top Ten Paper Ball Run Scores (Overall)
Team School/Program Age
(average)
Score
Do well:) Humboldt Park Elementary, Milwauke, WI, USA 10 960
Stars Zion Heights Middle School, Toronto, Canada 13 644
Crescent Coyotes Crescent School, Toronto, Canada 10 480
KopernikKW III Liceum Ogólnokształcące Kopernik, Kalisz, Poland 14 353.8
B and O Rollercoasters Holy Name Gifted Centre, Toronto, Canada 12 247
Route 66 Woodlawn Middle School, Long Grove, IL, USA 12 212
Scientific Research 0 Effingham College and Career Academy, Rincon, GA, USA 15 200
The Green Monster Pierce School, Brookline, MA, USA 12 190
Ball-Tech Masters Woodbury Elementary, Irvine, CA, USA 10 188
Glow In The Dark Pierce School, Brookline, MA, USA 11 182
Table 2. 2022 Fluor Engineering Challenge top scores across all ages.

Top Scores by Age

To recognize the hard work students did creating and testing their solutions and to give students a better sense of how their solutions and scores compare to other students of similar age, the tables and graphs below show the top scores and score distribution for submissions from ages up to age 10, 11-14, and 15-18. (Note: The age used for each team is the average age of all members on the team.)


A collage of elementary school age students and the paper ball runs they built for the 2022 Fluor Engineering Challenge.
Figure 2. A few of the teams, students ages 10 and younger, showing off their paper ball runs.

Histogram of the scores for teams of students ages 10 and under.

The distribution shows that approximately 240 teams had scores of less than zero, 350 had scores of zero to five, 275 had scores of five to ten, 300 had scores of 10 to 25, and the remaining approximately 100 teams had higher scores with only about ten having a score higher than 100.

Top Ten Paper Ball Run Scores (Up to Age 10)
Team School/Program Age
(average)
Score
Do well:) Humboldt Park Elementary, Milwauke, WI, USA 10 960
Crescent Coyotes Crescent School, Toronto, Canada 10 480
Ball-Tech Masters Woodbury Elementary, Irvine, CA, USA 10 188
Picture Perfect Builders Stonybrook Elementary School, Kinnelon, NJ, USA 10 116.4
Blythe Bears Blythe Academy, Greenville, SC, USA 10 100
Girls on Fire! Philadelphia Elementary School, Philadelphia, MS, USA 10 86
Paper Run Master Saint Mary’s School, Ballston Spa, NY, USA 7 84.48
Cloudy with a Chance of Victory Stonybrook Elementary School, Kinnelon, NJ, USA 10 74.8
Francisco G Tomas LG Francp K Instituto Ballester, Villa Ballester, Argentina 9 72.5
The Three Engineers Cloverdale Traditional School, Victoria, Canada 10 72
Table 3. 2022 Fluor Engineering Challenge top scores for teams of students up to and including age 10.

"We really liked this challenge. We worked together and our ball run got better and better. It was hard but fun. We want to do more contests like this!"
—Students from team The Mighty Snails, age 10

A collage of middle school age students and the paper ball runs they built for the 2022 Fluor Engineering Challenge.
Figure 3. A sampling of teams, students ages 11 to 14, showing off their paper ball runs.

Histogram of the scores for teams of students ages 11 to 14.

The distribution shows that approximately 175 teams had scores of less than zero, 750 had scores of between zero and ten, 600 had scores between ten and 20, 215 had scores between 25 and 30, and the remaining about 200 teams had higher scores with only about 25 teams having scores higher than 100 points.

Top Ten Paper Ball Run Scores (Ages 11-14)
Team School/Program Age
(average)
Score
Stars Zion Heights Middle School, Toronto, Canada 13 644
B and O Rollercoasters Holy Name Gifted Centre, Toronto, Canada 12 247
Route 66 Woodlawn Middle School, Long Grove, IL, USA 12 212
The Green Monster Pierce School, Brookline, MA, USA 12 190
Glow In The Dark Pierce School, Brookline, MA, USA 11 182
Skiing pandas Primary School Affiliated to Guilin University of Technology, Guilin, China 13 178
The Gravity Girls Keep Hatch Primary School, Wokingham, Berkshire, England 11 164.5
URIÓSTEGUI SALAZAR CARLOS DANIEL Colegio Los Angeles, Mexico City, Mexico 11 164.4
AOS Dolphins Annunciation Orthodox School, Houston, TX 12 142
The Team Zion Heights Middle School, Toronto, Canada 13 140
Table 4. 2022 Fluor Engineering Challenge top scores for ages 11-14.

"I think that my favorite part about the 2022 Fluor challenge was the part where we actually got to build the paper contraption that we would roll our ping pong ball down. Designing the system and doing the hands-on work was really enjoyable and fun. I would definitely like to do more of this kind of project in the future."
—Student from team Plinko, age 13

A collage of high school age students and the paper ball runs they built for the 2022 Fluor Engineering Challenge.
Figure 4. Several teams, students ages 15 to 18, showing off their pager ball runs.

Histogram of the scores for teams of students ages 15 to 18.
Top Ten Paper Ball Run Scores (Ages 15-18)
Team School/Program Age
(average)
Score
KopernikKW III Liceum Ogólnokształcące Kopernik, Kalisz, Poland 18 353.8
Scientific Research 0 Effingham College and Career Academy, Rincon, GA, USA 15 200
Pauline Isidro PAREF Woodrose School, Muntinlupa City, Philippines 18 153.8
LCHS - 1 Lehman Catholic High School, Sidney, OH, USA 17 146.24
The Competent Centennial High School, Calgary, Canada 17 136
Team Orange Northwood High, Irvine, CA, USA 16 135
Kopernikowcy III Liceum Ogólnokształcące Kopernik, Kalisz, Poland 16 130
The Nerd Herd Christian Life Academy, Seneca, PA, USA 18 114.6
power girls III Liceum Ogólnokształcące Kopernik, Kalisz, Poland 15 114
Group 1 Bishop O'Byrne High School, Calgary, Canada 17 113
Table 5. 2022 Fluor Engineering Challenge top scores for ages 15-18.

"We loved the simplicity of this year's challenge in terms of materials. Our students had a GREAT time designing, planning, building, and revising their Paper Ball Runs! We found that this challenge worked very well across all levels of science, from "on-grade level" to honors. We appreciate the introductory video and handout as springboards to launch the project; everything was classroom ready and required very little additional prep for the teachers. My students were engaged and worked really took pride in the work that they did together. Most importantly, this challenge gave my students an authentic team-building experience right before spring break. Thank you to Fluor and Science Buddies for organizing this every year."
—Dela Cruz, Teacher

Try the Challenge

Want to try your hand at the challenge? Full details, including the building, testing, and scoring procedures, can be found in these four formats:

Meet the Team of Fluor Engineers who Inspired the 2022 Fluor Engineering Challenge

Fluor holds a Friendly Competition between its engineers every year. The winning team then gets the honor of devising the company challenge for the next year. Emeric Naseman, Tom Wooley, Linh Nguyen, and David Glasscock, four engineers from Fluor's Houston, Texas office, are the inspiration behind the 2022 Fluor Engineering Challenge. For their fellow engineers they designed a challenge to build a device that accurately measured one minute. After watching some of the great solutions, Science Buddies' staff scientists realized that a subset of the solutions involved giving an object a set path to travel along for a minute. From this, the idea of trying to create a ball run that took the longest time to complete was born and made into the 2022 Fluor Engineering Challenge for K-12 students. [Fun fact: Tom and Linh were also part of the winning team that inspired the 2018 Fluor Engineering Challenge.]

Three male and one female engineers standing around a three-foot-tall paper tower balancing a baseball on top.
Figure 5. Fluor engineers Emeric, Tom, Linh, and David (from left to right) in a group photo after winning the 2021 Fluor Friendly Competition.

Curious what it is like to be an engineer? Read our interviews with Emeric, Tom, Linh, and David to learn how they became engineers, what they love about their jobs, and their recommendations for students interested in engineering.

Fluor is a registered service mark of Fluor Corporation. All rights reserved.
Top
Free science fair projects.