Thanks for sharing this—it’s got me thinking. I’ll share my thoughts with the qualification that I’m not a high school teacher and therefore not very familiar with the current classroom context.
Projects serving neglected or unglamorous user groups can be richly rewarding because students can feel like they’re making a difference.
This topic would benefit from students talking to friends, family members and specialists about experiences of using crutches however being an exam that’s not possible so students with prior experience or observations will have an advantage. Is it possible to expand the stimulus to include abbreviated interviews or observations from a variety of users (young, mature, elderly?). Perhaps it might be an idea to even dictate the user group and provide a mood board of relevant images as well. In other words provide data about on clients so that students have can make informed judgements based on that data rather than their possibly ill-informed assumptions.
I’d also suggest providing as much visual stimulus as possible. This might include:
Tracing a photo as the basis for ideation sketches and presentations (in this case a non-crutch based carrier, also known as a ‘bag’ )
- full length photos of people using crutches: these can help students understand things like posture, users, etc., and help them understand the problem but these images might also serve as sketching aids. I have no issue with students tracing off photos for their design sketching and would size the reference images accordingly.
- photos of difference models of crutches and other ‘leg injury’ devices such as foot casts, boots, etc… (Almost without fail these things are hideous and clunky. There’s so much scope for interesting design work in this field.)
- images of existing solutions (you show some of these) should ideally be diverse enough to get people thinking. The disadvantage of showing them is that students might find it difficult to judge how close their ideas might be to these examples. An alternative might be to avoid showing examples and instead just listing them ('bag, apron, bum-pack, wheeled walker, etc.) so that students can feel they’ve come up with their own ideas.
Your topic got me thinking and reminds me of the work that’s being done making affordable prosthetic limbs. There’s quite a lot of info out there and a quick search revealed some interesting ideas:
This topic might be good for an exam too. The brief might be to design a cool prosthetic hand or foot for a child. Students could then focus on the aesthetics of the task rather than mechanical innovation which is difficult to do credibly only on paper. It would also be a lot of fun. User: super hero obsessed 12 year old→ Iron Man hand. User: My Little Pony fanatic (or whatever the rage is these days)→ rainbow unicorn foot.
Again, thanks for sharing!