Assistive Device Academy is a human-centred design project where students create a range of assistive devices for people with disabilities. This free creative project has been developed and shared by our partners PrintLab in collaboration with Makers Making Change – an innovative community based initiative that connects makers to people with disabilities.

Lesson 1 begins with students learning about affordable open source assistive technologies through a series of case study videos. Following the overview, students participate in a range of skill-building CAD tutorials to design several example devices. The example devices are 3D printed prior to the lesson by the teacher and analysed and tested at the end of lesson 1.

In the main part of the project, students work in teams and are guided by design instructions to develop a prototype for an assistive device of their choice. The design journey involves human-centred design principles, whereby an individual user is identified before concepts are developed to solve the daily challenges of the user. Finally, ideas are transferred to CAD software before being 3D printed and presented to the rest of the class.

This project and resources is available to everyone, even for those who have not subscribed to PrintLab Classroom so feel free to share this resource link with your colleagues: https://classroom.weareprintlab.com/p/assistive-device-academy

Project Overview Video

Learning Objectives

In this project students will:

  • develop an understanding of assistive devices and their benefit to people with disabilities
  • develop an understanding of how open source collaboration and 3D printing can positively impact the production and distribution of assistive devices
  • use research, design-thinking, human-centred design and sketching skills in teams to develop a concept for an assistive device
  • use 3D modelling software to design an assistive device
  • use 3D printers to manufacture an assistive device
  • analyse their work and the work of their peers to suggest improvements to their designs

In The Classroom

The full project spans over 5 sessions lasting 1 hour each. The process can be adapted to run the project in shorter time periods by skipping sections of your choice.

The lesson can be incorporated into the study of maths, physics, design technology and computing. The material can be adapted for ages 10-15.

The curriculum is aligned to NGSS, CCSS and UK National Curriculum standards.