Running late? Try rocket shoes

15th June 2007 at 01:00
Jet-propelled trainers and lunch boxes that heat food are among pupils'

ideas to help make their busy lives easier

WHAT DO you do if you want chips for lunch, but the school canteen offers only healthy options? Simple. Bring your own in a special lunch box that heats them up.

Is it possible to sleep in and still get to school in time for registration? No problem. You just need jet-propelled trainers.

And how do you avoid forgetting your sports kit? Invent a smart rucksack that tells you each day what to take to school.

Children at four London primaries came up with these ideas as they worked with students from the London College of Fashion on designing items of school uniform and equipment to meet the needs of 21st-century pupils. The project was overseen by the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood at Bethnal Green in east London.

Teresa Hare Duke, the project co-ordinator, said: "Pupils see uniforms as prescribed. You have to wear a blazer. You have to wear regulation trousers. But the children are consumers. A lot of them have very practical ideas. We're trying to give them a voice in the whole process."

The children began by examining the origins of school uniform in the 19th century. They then progressed through the contemporary white shirt, grey trousers design to the possibilities that a high-tech future might offer.

Among the suggestions from pupils at Redlands primary in Tower Hamlets, east London, was a lunch box that would heat up a meal. Nine-year-old Muktadir Abdul designed this so he could have the lunch he wants every day.

"I want to be able to bring in chips," he said. "I have school dinners now, so can't eat only chips."

Prototypes based on pupils' designs have been created by the college students. They are on display at the museum, alongside the original designs.

Muktadir is also keen on a school coat with a built-in heating device, iPod and satellite navigation technology.

"When I'm with my mum in the shopping centre, I get bored and wander off,"

he said. "That coat could stop me from getting lost."

His classmate, Fawziyyah Dilqis, would like jet-propelled trainers. "My mum can't drive," she said, "so I could give her a lift."

Niki di Palma, the deputy head at Redlands, believes there are other, less obvious advantages to the pupils' designs. "Children often feel marginalised," she said. "Their ideas aren't taken seriously. So they were amazed their designs could be turned into something so sophisticated.

"It's opened up a world of possibility for them."


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