They’d worked hard for months, come up with a brilliant idea, executed an ingenious design and seen it transformed into a fabulous prototype. The wait was finally over!

If they were nervous, they didn’t show it! Adcote’s team of Year 7 and 8 inventors gave an impressive presentation to expert judges at the grand final of the MNA Stem Challenge 2018.

Out of 24 teams – from schools across Shropshire, Staffordshire and the Black Country – they came away with one of the top awards.

Each team had been given the task of designing a product that would enhance the quality of life of a group or person they considered disadvantaged

Our team, who dubbed themselves ‘The Atomic Adcotians’, won the Best Operating Model category, sponsored by DENCO, with their clever design of a lightweight portable wheelchair ramp.

The ramp is designed to fit into the side of a wheelchair and be easily deployed by wheelchair users to give them greater accessibility when out and about.

The team, made up of Bella Sussums-Lewis, Felicity Davies, Aimee Nicholas, Keira Diavati, Poppy Thomas and Ruby Allen, had worked on the design with Shrewsbury manufacturing company Salop Design & Engineering and mentor Amy Farley, of the Marches Centre of Technology & Manufacturing.

“We wanted to design something that would give disabled people more independence, so they didn’t feel like they were putting other people to trouble when needing to ask for help,” said Bella.

“When we went to Liverpool we saw a disabled man need help with getting up some stairs to his dentist. There were five people crowded round him and he looked embarrassed,” said Keira.

Adcote’s Head of Science Ivan Phillips said: “The girls worked so hard to develop a meaningful product that could really make a difference.
“The team built cardboard prototypes to refine their design before receiving CAD (computer aided design) training from Salop Design and Engineering, and drawing up their plans.

“Salop Design then mocked-up their prototype in steel for evaluation and testing. The whole process was recorded meticulously by Aimee who chased all the team members for on-going progress reports. 

“Meanwhile, the team took new assigned roles. Ruby and Poppy focused on working with Adcote’s Textiles teacher, Michelle Warner, to design and fabricate a suitable storage bag for the ramp, while Keira and Bella produced an animated promotional video for the product. Chief product tester, Felicity, made sure the design was fit for purpose and could actually be used!

“After evaluation of the prototype, which suggested a number of design improvements, Salop Design produced a final light-weight version for judging. Our girls had thought of everything – from finger traps and slipperiness to colour and strength.

“On finals day 24 STEM teams assembled at Dudley College of Technology. Our team had to go through three sessions of gruelling presentation and questioning. Felicity had to demonstrate the product multiple times, before two sets of judges returned to find out more as they were on the shortlist for two categories – Best working model and Best teamwork.

“The girls did us proud. They were excellent ambassadors for the school and were among the youngest students in the in the room.”

The team’s success came on the back of two earlier wins for Adcote scientists in competitions at the Salters’ Festivals of Chemistry at the University of Liverpool and the IET Faraday Challenge hosted at Adcote School. What a team!

Mr Phillips now hopes to enter the wheelchair ramp into the Big Bang Fair young engineer competition 2018-19.