Imagine a show bursting with clever inventions, hands-on workshops and innovative ideas to give thousands of young people a glimpse of the exciting and rewarding opportunities to be found in the world of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths. Well, that’s precisely what you’ll find at The Big Bang Science & Engineering Fair – one of the largest events to celebrate STEM for young people. Exhibitors at the fair include some of the UK’s most influential design and engineering companies such as Rolls Royce, Airbus Group, and Atkins, as well as hands-on workshops by Space agencies and the NHS.
Amongst exhibitors at the Big Bang Fair 2016 was the comparatively low-tech ‘Project Wallk’ workshop. Project Wallk is a social venture fuelled by the seemingly humble vision that “The chance to walk should be offered to all.” But for many children with walking impairments who live in developing regions of the world there is often no access to healthcare and as a result getting hold of a much needed walking aid is not easy. A walking aid can enable a child to attend school, integrate in the community and escape the disability-poverty cycle, so the mission of Project Wallk is to offer a long-term and affordable solution for mobility rehabilitation across developing regions of the world.
The majority of designers and engineers in the UK tend to focus on developing products/services for consumers with disposable income (the top 10% of people in the world). Facilitators at the Project Wallk workshop were focused on teaching young visitors about designing appropriately for ‘the other 90%’ (the billions of people who don’t even have their basic food and water, shelter, sanitation, education, and healthcare needs met). The main hands-on activity being run at the workshop was a product assembly challenge, to put together various walking aids from the innovative Evolvable Walking Aid Kit. The kit consists of a set of locally manufacturable parts made from half a wooden pallet and up to 24 cable ties, which can be assembled to form a walking frame, crutches or a walking stick. The whole kit can be locally produced in a sustainable manner using simple hand tools and it will adapt to correctly support a child throughout their mobility rehabilitation process…for just 68 pence!
Throughout the Big Bang Fair, feedback was collected about the Evolvable Walking Aid Kit’s visual assembly instructions, to ensure it will be as intuitive as possible to assemble. The fair proved to be a great platform for Project Wallk to simultaneously collect design feedback and share their passion with such a large young audience, whilst inspiring the next generation of innovators to focus on solving humanity’s biggest design challenges.
You can follow the progress of Project Wallk at www.facebook.com/Meru.llama