Winning Medals: Does Engineering Design Make a Difference?

This resource aims to give students the opportunity to investigate the impact of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) on wheelchair sport. Students create a presentation that provides a justified answer to the ‘big question’, does engineering design make a difference to a wheelchair athlete's performance? It is intended that students arrive at their answer having investigated the practical challenges of making a model wheelchair and, through developing their knowledge of the science and mathematics used by engineers, to design wheelchairs for sport.

Technology and engineering activity: Students design a scale model wheelchair and test their models and compete against each other to see whose wheelchair can travel the furthest and the straightest. Students will naturally wish to modify their models to improve performance.

Science and mathematics student activities: These activities show students how science and mathematics can be used to enhance the performance of wheelchairs and that of the athletes that use them. By investigating torque, track and turning moments, students can develop an understanding of some of the scientific principles engineers apply to make wheelchairs easier to accelerate and control.

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