Bethany STEM pupils have reached the finals for the Big Bang national competition. Throughout November, over 70 judges from the field of STEM have been reviewing projects and helping to select the winners who will be attending the Finals. Our first ever Year 12 pupils, Ben Scott and Aaron Monk’s STEM project ‘Independent mobility for disabled users’, has been successful and the students have been invited to attend The Big Bang Competition Finals 2020.
The Finals will take place at the NEC in Birmingham on Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th March 2020. At the Finals, the finalists’ project is judged by leading experts, and the pupils will also take part in exciting STEM activities and possibly come away with a fantastic prize!
The project was an enormous scale of reverse engineering and modification. In this modern world, we take a lot for granted, such as the car or motorbike. People who have lost the ability to walk cannot drive or ride any to go where they want. They would have to use public transport or friends to get around. This makes them less independent. The STEM pupils decided that should change.
“Motorbikes are very close to our hearts, and we know what it feels like not being able to jump on a motorcycle and head off into the sunset. This motorcycle would allow those who have lost the ability to use their legs/ or limited use to get on their bike and ride off into the sunset” remarked Aaron.
Most motorcycles are made with high seating positions which for someone with limited or no use of their legs would be very unreasonable and not realistic to put them on and ride, so with this in mind the pupils set out to build a low, stable bike making it as eco-friendly as possible.
“We also had to bear in mind that the bike would have to be light and have a very low centre of gravity, so we had to get the weight low down. This would help the user with limited or no use of their legs to feel stable on the bike. Moreover, hopefully, the low centre of gravity would give the bike the right amount of natural stability. To help make it safe, we added stabilisers”, said Ben.
The pupils started off using a written off Honda CBF 125, which is very reliable and a stable bike. This motorcycle had been in an accident and was written off, so they bought it for spares and repairs. It took some days to strip the bike down for its engine wheels, suspension and swinging arms as these were the most expensive parts. The bike so far had only cost £250. The team decided that if they made the seat too low, the rider would not feel comfortable on the bike at all, and if too high, they would feel unstable. So, they made a seating height of 40cm, which feels very comfortable.
The STEM finalists learnt and applied the following skills to make the bike: (1) horizontal ban saw, (2) MiG welder, (3) filing, (4) sanding/scotching, (5) priming/painting, (6) fabricating, (7) milling, and (8) lathing. STEM teaches pupils life skills and congratulations to Ben and Aaron for being Bethany’s STEM ambassadors this academic year.