Winner # 1 was Linden STEAM Academy Malden, MA. Elementary school teachers Laura Degelmann and Kathleen Carter and their students put their hearts into this project that helped them learn about empathy and compassion for others. “The students were persuasive in convincing one another that it is important to make public spaces accessible for all, especially people who face challenges,” said Carter. “These designs are special because they truly incorporate features that the students felt strongly about in order to assist the needs of others, from ramps and elevators to playground equipment and countertops.”
Starting out with zero 3D design experience, soon the students’ sketches came to life using Tinkercad. “I watched as they figured things out, using what they learned from the Tinkercad training [included in the ‘Make for Everyone’ challenge,]” said Degelmann.
Carter added, “Sometimes their attempts didn’t work out as planned, but they persevered and tried a different approach. When I asked the students questions about their creations, they were able to explain how different things worked and how they made the individual additions to their designs. After a while, it was almost as if the students were teaching me how to use the program — as if our roles were reversed.” According to Degelmann, most groups focused on people with physical differences, but they also considered non-English speakers and parents of babies.
The goal of accessibility was met by each group in different ways. For example, one group designed “wheel stairs” that work like a motorized ramp, as an alternative to traditional stairs, escalators, and elevators. Another group designed a hospital waiting room with counters and self-check-in stations at a height that wheelchair users can speak to the person on the other side with comfort.
These students presented a roller coaster with seats that adjust to fit people of all sizes and abilities.
“Their products challenge the status quo and what's happening now, because they really took the time to use empathy for people who aren't as lucky as they are in terms of their health and abilities,” said Carter. “I was very pleasantly surprised to see the end results of these designs and hear the meaningful discussions in which students would partake all along the designing process. They showed their creativity in many amazing ways!
We’re very excited to celebrate the Grand Prize winners of this year’s Make It Real challenge. This year’s contest was directed at educators in New England interested in teaching their students how to make a difference through design. The Grand Prize winners will receive makerspace tools based on their grade level: Elementary, Middle, and High School. The prize packages include an Ultimaker 3 3D Printer, Dremel DigiLab Laser Cutter (for high school,) and ten Chromebooks (for the elementary and middle schools.) In total, Autodesk is giving away over $30,000 in prizes to the three winners.