Team Mertz's Ball Drop

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Team Mertz approached the problem of the ball drop from a completely different direction than the other teams; they built a cabled "descender", which would use a rope and frictional forces to slow their ball's descent instead of air resistance.

Group Members

The group members were:

Julian Leland

Pierre Dyer

Taylor Chen

Matt Bowers

John Dinh

Fritz Eyerer

Early Stages

Some of the ideas that came up during the brainstorming session were seemingly complicated and uncreative. Such as the parachute, the kite, and the glider.

Final Design & Construction

First, Team Mertz punctured the tennis ball and drove two dowels through, in such a way that they made an “X.” Then, they folded almost the whole length of the tape across the middle of the sticky side, producing roughly thirty feet of non-sticky tape. They then wrapped the tape in a figure of 8 around the two longest protruding legs of the “X.” Finally, they attached the end of the tape to the third dowel, so that they could use the dowel to hold the device as far from the building as possible when it was falling.


Team Mertz's descender achieved a time of 15.44 ± 0.2 seconds. Pretty sweet, eh?

(Side note: They also ran one test from the roof of Hicks in which they achieved a time of 55 SECONDS. Again, pretty sweet, eh?)