What you see is a housing for launching a ping pong ball in a Science Olympiad event called air trajectory. The competition was held at Texas A&M University with the picture you see being taken near the Blocker Building during a coaches clinic. Our team also competed in Invasive Species, Crave the Wave, and Bridge Building among other events that I have forgot.
The kids on our team gathered data on on what weight dropped on the bag would produce x distance for ping pong ball. We got a raw deal on the impound because the box you see was just a tad over the legal dimensions because we had some dated rules. We tried to plea our case, but the judges said it was incumbent on coaches to be in possession of the most recent version of the overly complicated rules. In particular, what qualified one for a “bucket shot” was ambiguous and they could not even tell us if it would hurt us if we did not land in the bucket!
I wish we had worked with Aaron because his commentary which you can read below indicated he is one bad ass budding scientist with an intense competitive drive. Since he is from Kentucky, that would have presented some logistic issues and he may not have wanted to help an Aggie!
Hello my name is Aaron! I am a high school senior from northeastern Kentucky designing a pneumatic system of sorts for a science competition and need some help. I will be building a device that converts gravitational potential energy, from a falling mass, into air pressure (or possibly the movement of air depending on the design) to launch a projectile a specific distance (max distance needed is 8.25 m).