Three Innovation Club students in Year 9 at Matthew Flinders Anglican College have won the gen[in] Student Innovation Challenge at the University of Queensland.
Flinders students Tyler Cuttill, Amy Morrison and Bethany Slocombe pitched their design prototype, The Orbital Caddy, to judging panels at the final awards ceremony.
Their prototype was designed during Flinders Innovation Club, a College co-curricular program to inspire and challenge students with a passion for design.
Next for the students is the Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards, in which the Flinders team was chosen as one of the 12 finalist student teams.
Their prize involved four face-to-face mentoring sessions during May with entrepreneurs and industry experts to develop their idea and prepare their final pitch to be delivered at the awards ceremony on 14 July, when the winner will be announced.
The Mayor’s Telstra Innovation Awards is delivered exclusively to high schools on the Sunshine Coast as a partnership between the Sunshine Coast Council, Telstra and Study Sunshine Coast.
It aims to help students learn practical skills and knowledge development specific to the start-up, entrepreneur and technological space.
The Orbital Caddy is a rotating shelf system, inspired by the ferris wheel amusement ride, and partly constructed with recycled plastics to tackle environmental waste.
Their design aims to solve a problem for people who have trouble easily and safely accessing shelving, such as older people and those who are in wheelchairs or suffer from back pain.
Flinders Head of Design and Technologies, Mrs Natalle Sutton said it was rewarding to see students choosing to join the Innovation Club in their spare time to explore real-world design opportunities.
The Orbital Caddy Prototype
Flinders student Bethany Slocombe said her team worked through the design thinking process to design the caddy prototype, with the first step of the process focused on ‘empathy’.
“Last year, we noticed some people aren’t able to easily reach up to access stored items in shelves in their homes and workplaces without the risk of injury,” Bethany said.
“This lack of access inhibits their sense of independence and confidence and can be dangerous if items up high cannot be accessed safely,” she said.
Tyler explained, “Our design prototype for The Orbital Caddy allows the elderly, people in wheelchairs, visually impaired people and anyone who generally struggles to access items that are being stored to do so without the risk of injury. Even children will benefit from our idea.”
The students took inspiration from the mechanics of the ferris wheel to design the Orbital Caddy, which rotates about a central axis and is made up of a cabinet positioned on the floor with a hole in the top surface for the user to access the shelves. A button can be pressed to then rotate the shelves and allow the user to store and access more items in the other shelves.
Environmental sustainability was also a consideration with containers designed to be made from reused PLA plastic, the cupboard out of wood and the track out of PLA.
Amy said, “There are some ideas like ours that exist but they’re only available for use in industrial workshops and are not aesthetically pleasing nor environmentally conscious.
“Ours, however, can be used by anyone anywhere and the prototype is sustainable and innovative to address issues of waste and support our planet’s health.”
Flinders Head of Design and Technologies, Mrs Natalle Sutton said the Flinders Innovation Club has been offered for more than two years as part of the College’s extensive Co-curricular Program.
“We want to encourage our students to explore projects that matter to them and challenge them to work through the design thinking cycle to achieve an outcome,” Natalle said.
“Students are having a lot of fun while also developing valuable life and study skills such as collaboration, teamwork, empathy, critical thinking, problem solving and creativity.”