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June 22, 2021

Student Voice: Student inventors lead the way in UK design competition

The Heckmondwike Grammar School team, part of the U.K.’s Design Ventura competition that challenges students to research, design and create a novel product.

 

Editor’s note: The following testimonials are written by student finalists in the U.K.’s Design Ventura competition hosted by the Design Museum in London. Design Ventura invites students ages 13–16 to research, design and create a novel product. Winners have their product manufactured and sold in the museum’s shop. You may also want to check out our invention lesson resources, which guide participants through the invention process to design their own problem-solving inventions!

 

Alice, Heckmondwike Grammar School

When we were introduced to the Design Ventura competition, we instantly knew we wanted to give our project a sustainability focus.

When conducting research, we were drawn to seed paper as a method of planting seeds. We knew straight away that we’d like to incorporate this concept into our product. This was the first step in the journey towards the “Sow Beautiful” seed launcher. Over the course of a half-term, we developed a product that is completely biodegradable and helps with the repopulation of diminishing wildflower and bee populations. It also aims to teach young children about helping nature and being environmentally conscious.

When we were introduced to the Design Ventura competition, we instantly knew we wanted to give our project a sustainability focus.

We spent numerous hours making a range of prototypes and testing out many different mechanisms for launching the seeds. We got it wrong several times before concluding that the most effective solution is to use the elastic power of a biodegradable balloon! Because the launcher itself is such a simple design, we also dedicated a lot of time to developing the eye-catching packaging.

The “Sow Beautiful” prototype

We are all excited to be attending the Celebration Event at the Design Museum and are keeping our fingers crossed that we win the competition! We have nominated Kirkwood Hospice as our chosen charity, since the families of several of our team members have received incredible support from them in recent years.

 

Ruby, Bea, Emma and Lamara, The Positivitree Team, Davison High School for Girls

The Davison High School team

We are all passionate about making a difference in the world, especially as the COVID-19 lockdown has shown us all how fragile life is. The news reports were filled with lonely and lost people as many were not allowed to be with their loved ones. We wanted an easy way to empower people and show them that they can still connect with life even if when they feel alone.

Our first few meetings were in an afterschool club. There was a lot of creative discussion about what people really needed at this time. We wanted to make something that made a difference to someone’s life. From the beginning our idea was to build something to look after, to care for or to nurture a person in need. We looked at toys — something to hug? Something to talk to?

We wanted an easy way to empower people and show them that they can still connect with life even when they feel alone.

Our early research showed that ages 9-18 struggle with mental health and would benefit the most from a product that they could tend to. The word “negative”–feeling lost, feeling alone–was key in all our research, so we flipped the word to “positive” and knew that had to be in the title! Combining this with nature was the easy part as everyone was already encouraged to be outdoors. There are lots of facts around stating the benefits of being outdoors.

The Davison High School team’s “Positivitree”

Our “Positivitree” is a well-being booster focused around nurture through nature to help better the lifestyles of all. Our quirky design symbolizes growing your mindset. We hope it is perfect for any age and gender because its eco-friendliness can improve everyday life without causing harm to the environment.  

 

Anjali, The ShoeButton Team, Parkside Community College

The Parkside Community College team

Tying our laces is a task most of us do without a second thought. However, for younger children and those struggling with fine motor skills, it’s difficult to learn. I realized this when watching my younger sibling fight with her fingers everyday. “There must be something she could use that breaks the process down into easy-to-follow steps,” I thought. Through experimenting with cards, creating slots and holes, and continuously trailing my prototypes, the “ShoeButton” was born.

Tying our laces is a task most of us do without a second thought. However, for younger children and those struggling with fine motor skills, it’s difficult to learn.

Lockdown made the design process difficult given the lack of contact with some of our chosen target audience. I was able to test the product with a younger sibling but did not have access to others who may also struggle. The design process showed some difficulties when I tried to find a balance between something that was simple to use and aesthetically pleasing as well as motivating and engaging for younger children. The design chosen uses loops created by the shoelaces as ears or wings on the animal faces. We also made simpler designs with patterns to broaden the market. 

“The ShoeButton,” the Parkside team’s entry into the Design Ventura competition

The ShoeButton has developed quite a bit since the original. With a passion for sustainability, we used FSC certified wood in a move from recycled neoprene. We also adapted the functionality by adding slots making it possible to slide the ShoeButton off. This allowed it to not only be a good learning tool but also functional for everyday use. If we won, we would love to support Mencap, a UK charity for people with learning disabilities. Something as simple as the ShoeButton could promote independence and make those everyday tasks a little bit easier.


If you would like to contribute to Student Voice, please send your idea to Victoria Pasquantonio at vpasquantonio@newshour.org. For education news highlights, sign up here.

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