Eighth Graders Design Inclusive Product Solutions for Para-Athlete Challenges

This year, our 8th graders participated in the “Made in 3D” contest, an initiative sponsored by Dassault Systèmes and promoted by La main à la pâte. The challenge? To research, design, and market a product that could assist a para-athlete in participating in a sport.

Innovative Solutions for Fencing and Volleyball

Students were divided into two groups, each tasked with a unique project.

After brainstorming various devices, including swimming aids, badminton rackets, and sports goggles, the first group decided to design a device to help an athlete with spasticity in their hands hold the foil of a fencing sword. Their research began with understanding what spasticity is and how it affects muscle movement. After designing initial prototypes, they met with Steve Kaplan, owner of Cobra Fencing in Jersey City and a former Olympic fencer, to get his professional feedback on their prototypes. Armed with his feedback, the students refined their design and created two additional prototypes.

The second group tackled the challenge of creating “gloves” for volleyball players with hand spasticity, aiming to improve their ability to set the ball. They produced two distinct prototypes to address this need.

Learning Through Innovation and Teamwork

Throughout this year-long project, the students had the opportunity to use Tinkercad, a sophisticated 3D design program, and a 3D printer. They learned the importance of precise measurements, functionality, and the iterative process of refining their designs. The length and scope of the project demanded focus, tenacity, and flexibility, as well as constant communication among team members. They discovered the value of open communication, compromise, and delegation, ensuring that everyone could contribute their strengths to the project.

From Concept to Market

The project was divided into three critical stages: research, design, and marketing. Beyond just designing the products, the students were required to think about the products’ users and how to market the devices. They came up with names for their devices, designed logos, and crafted mottos. The final challenge was to produce a video demonstrating their product in use, alongside a slideshow explaining “The Making Of.

Parents’ Breakfast: A Celebration of Innovation and Teamwork

At the conclusion of the project, the students hosted a Parents’ Breakfast, inviting their families into the classroom to showcase their hard work. They explained the process of designing their products, from initial research to final prototypes, and presented their innovative solutions. The parents were impressed by the students’ dedication and the results of their collaborative efforts, making it a proud moment for everyone involved. This project was not only a demonstration of their technical skills but also a testament to the power of teamwork, creativity, and perseverance.

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