This is the Team Parrish page.
We met on Monday and constructed our beautiful machine.
Our brainstorming session included quick overviews of most of the categories of devices we thought we could make. Parachutes, gliders, helicopters, active gliders, and wind up devices all went down on our list. We discussed active and passive variations of most of these, and also combinations of some.
We met on Sunday, intending to build the device, but ended by only settling on our preferred design. Parachutes were eliminated on the grounds of their lacking creativity, and after that we went through the various favored possibilities. We considered whether we had materials enough to build them, the likelihood that we would be able to build them, and also how good our chances would be of actually having them work for us when it came time for the drop. Once we had narrowed the field, we discussed our knowledge of the structures we would need, and whether we had practical knowledge enough to make them really good. We eventually ruled out gliders and, even later, ruled out an active helicopter. We all liked the idea of a passive helicopter, and so that was our choice. We put some thought into the actual pattern for construction, and then we were done.
We met Monday for our construction day. This included first a confirmation that the design on which we had settled before was indeed our preferred design. It was, and so we set about constructing it. Dealing with the tennis ball was easy, but we struggled with the design of the propeller wings. We thought through several possibilities – cutting triangles, stretching the plastic, a rectangular piece twisted, a curved piece twisted. Ultimately, we chose to cut the plastic to be narrow at its center (where it would run down the vertical dowel) and longer at the edges, to attach properly along the blades. This resulted in our going through several possible angles for the dowel placement and consequently several possible angles for the cut of our plastic. This took a surprising amount of time. Eventually we cut the plastic and assembled all the pieces. We made some last minute additions to the design in the tape pieces that stabilize the ends of the dowels and keep the tension up. We proceeded to do a test run, and then were satisfied.
Maybe the obvious answer really sometimes is the best one.