A team of pupils from a school in Wales has won an award in the TeenTech initiative with its sensor guided wheelchair project.
With support from precision bearing and automotive component supplier Schaeffler, a team of 13-year old pupils from Ysgol Glan-y-Mor School in Burry Port, Wales, recently won the ‘Transport Award’ in the National Teen Tech Finals held in London on 7th July 2015.
TeenTech, an industry-led initiative founded in 2008 by Maggie Philbin and Chris Dodson, helps secondary school pupils to understand their true potential and the real opportunities available in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) workplace. TeenTech events take place at venues across the UK and works collaboratively with Education Business Partnerships, companies, universities and business organisations to create these experiences for young people.
The winning team from Ysgol Glan-y-Mor comprised three boys – Charlie, Lewis and Bradley – who called themselves the ‘A Brains’. The team developed an idea for a sensor guidance system for wheelchairs, which gives wheelchair users more independence and freedom. Despite strong competition, the team won the Transport Category Award sponsored by Airbus, which was presented to the team by TV personality James May, who was impressed by the team’s ideas and creativity.
Paul Griffiths, Project Coordinator at Schaeffler UK commented: “Our initial involvement with Ysgol Glan-y-Mor School came from a Young Engineers session that we helped to run at the school in 2014. The school was impressed by this event and invited us back to a ‘Theme Day’ where we helped to judge ideas from teams of pupils who wished to be selected for the Teen Tech awards. The judges shortlisted these teams down to four and Schaeffler was asked to mentor one of these teams.”
“The boys came to the Schaeffler Llanelli plant to present their idea to us and we were able to provide some constructive criticism and technical expertise in order to help the boys to refine their initial concept. We also advised the boys to conduct some market research on their idea and to seek out local businesses who might be able to provide further support and advice on their sensor guidance system for wheelchairs, such as a wheelchair supplier,” adds Griffiths.
Susan Quirk, a teacher at Ysgol Glan-y-Mor School commented: “The pupils have been working on the project for around five months and along the way have linked up with local industry, further education establishments and have had support from STEM ambassadors. The project has taken the boys’ learning outside of the classroom and has enabled them to develop a whole new set of skills. Involvement in the competition has brought huge opportunities for the pupils and made them realise that they can compete with the best young minds, not just in Wales, but in the UK as a whole.”
“Winning has also brought the pupils some amazing opportunities, not only have they won a cash prize for the school, which will be used to develop STEM projects, but the boys have each won a Virgin Day Experience flying lesson and a VIP trip to the Airbus Factory at Broughton. The boys have also been invited to attend a reception at Buckingham Palace hosted by HRH Duke of York in October and are already planning the concept ideas for next year’s competition,” added Mrs Quirk.