To teach entrepreneurial skills. Students are taught how to design and fabricate an aquatic wheelchair.
It is estimated that 3.3 million people are wheelchair users in the United States. 400 million people visit beaches in the United States annually. Most USA beaches do not provide wheelchair accessibility. Those beaches that are “wheelchair accessible” often provide only meager access.
SKY (Skilled Knowledgeable Youth) students are asked to review above numbers. If there are 3.3 million people using wheelchairs, and 400 million go to the beach annually. They are then asked to speculate how many people in wheelchairs do they think may want to go to the beach? Why would people in wheelchairs want to access beaches?
Students are introduced to this real world problem. Through simple research they discover that aquatic/beach wheelchairs are made from simple materials such as PVC water pipe. These wheelchairs are also available for purchase costing in excess of $1500. These chairs are also available to rent for $45 per day.
Students are introduced to the design process and asked to design a beach wheelchair. Once they have collaboratively created their design they create a bill of materials listing all fittings and length of pipe needed to build a wheelchair. The students put this information into a spreadsheet listing quantity, part number, item description and price of the component. This provides the students with the realization of the profitability of manufacturing their wheelchair. As students wait for their material to be purchased and delivered they use CAD to create a 3D model of their wheelchair. This is created for visual representation and is used as a building plan.
Students are introduced to safe operation of simple hand and power tools. They apply their new found knowledge of these tools to construct their wheelchair. Upon completion of the chair the students test their wheelchair and present it to an audience.
This activity exposes students to a variety of task and careers.