Parents, Educators & Engineers

Convenient Carrier

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The Invention Challenge

Invent a convenient way for someone using crutches or a wheelchair to carry small personal items.

Materials

  • 1 armchair (represents a wheelchair)
  • crutches (at least one pair; more, if possible)
  • 4 cardboard sheets per team (approx. 8.5x11 in.)
  • 20 8-oz. paper cups
  • copier paper
  • rubber bands
  • string
  • duct tape

Brainstorm and Design

People who use crutches or wheelchairs have their hands occupied much of the time. This can make it difficult to carry lots of small personal items. Inventors like solving this kind of problem because it addresses a real need and has many interesting solutions. To help you brainstorm design ideas, answer the questions below.

  • What kind of stuff do people carry with them in their daily lives?
  • What are some different types of carriers? What kinds of carriers do you use every day?
  • How could these carriers be adapted for use by people in wheelchairs or on crutches?
  • Should your carrier be for crutches or for a wheelchair?
  • How will you attach your carrier to the crutches or wheelchair?

Build

Ready? Remember, it should be easy to put things into and take things out of your carrier. You may also want to design pockets for specific items, like a cell phone or a cup.

Test, Evaluate, and Redesign

It's big, so it holds a lot. But does it also get in the way or fall off? HINT: The crutch is a LEVER. By keeping the weight high, people won't have to swing extra weight out at the end of a lever, which is hard work.

Discuss What Happened

  • How did experiencing what it's like to be on crutches influence your design?
  • How easy is it to attach and remove your carrier?
  • Which carriers are easiest for putting in and taking out the items?
  • If your carrier fell off easily or was unsteady, how did you redesign it?
Picture of some kind of alarm contraption