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JPL Annual Invention Challenge - ENTRY 3
a) What your team thought of the challenge (objective)?
I thought it was a great idea, it presented a real challenge to move such a heavy object as a bowling ball onto a delicate platform.

b) What ideas your team considered?
From the beginning I only considered a rail made out of metal tubing. The design considerations were, how to stop the bowling ball short of the platform. I thought of using a container of water, as it would make a big splash and be very dramatic, but then though it would not be fast enough to win.

c) What was your final design?
Three rails made out of electrical conduit, which ended directly over the lower platform. The ball was stopped by two pieces of angle iron which sprung apart when a pin was pulled which was activated by the dropping ball. The ball then dropped the last 1.5 inches onto the platform.

d) What was your testing process and how did you improve?
The device worked the first time I tried it. The testing process was to improve the timing of the angle iron release device so that the ball did not linger any longer than necessary.

e) What were your feelings or experiences at the JPL contest?
Disappointment, since the ball stuck in the rail midway down and I was disqualified.

f) How would your team improve your design?
I think the design was fine. My only explanation is that the ball I used in practice must have been slightly smaller than the game ball. The rails were adjustable, and I should have tested the rails with the game ball and made the final adjustment after the invention was set up in the contest area. It still would not have been the fastest time, but at least it would have worked.

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For the event rules please click here.

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