An automatic teeth-cleaning system, gravity-defying pyjamas and glow-in-the-dark gloves were just some of the wacky and imaginative inventions shortlisted for the first Audi Innovation Awards.
Aimed at key stage 3, the awards not only provide students with a purposeful project, they also give them an opportunity to unleash their creativity. The very best ideas from the national competition went on display at Manchester United's football ground, Old Trafford, and provided a rare showcase for 28 designers aged 11 to 14.
Launched last year, the awards set students a choice of six challenges. The most popular was to design a "spizzle" - an unidentified object that could be used by everyone but couldn't be bought in a shop. Others included designing a torch without a traditional onoff switch, protective clothing for a mission to Mars, and an amphibious vehicle.
Craig Topping's magnetic bed and pyjamas was one of the highlights of the competition. Inspired by the technology that powers magnetic levitation trains, the electromagnets fitted to the bed and pyjamas repel each other, allowing the wearer to "float" above the bed. Craig, from Calderhead High School, Glasgow, developed the idea to provide back sufferers with a good night's sleep; he was awarded a runners-up prize.
More down to earth was a teeth-cleaning device designed by Anthony Grout, from Sutton Grammar School for Boys. His design resembled a set of false teeth, with vibrating bristles instead of molars.
Other notable designs included fold-up spectacles, gloves that glow in the dark, and Lee Crowley's sleek-looking tri craft, which would make James Bond envious. Lee, 14, from Llantarnam School, in Torfaen in Wales, also collected a runners-up prize.
First place was taken by Jamie Bowe, whose spizzle most impressed judges Michael Farmer from the Audi Design Foundation; Lucinda Coles from the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester; Louise Davies from DATA; and Robin White from Balby Carr School in Doncaster.
Jamie's spizzle is a hand-held shopping device that can be loaded with your shopping list, and holds a map of the store. As shoppers walk down the aisle, the device bleeps when an item on the list is close by. Jamie, 12, who attends Ravenscroft School in London, came up with the idea after watching his mother in the supermarket struggling to locate all the items on her list.
Louise Davies, deputy chief executive of DATA, said of the winning design:
"We just thought it was a really useful and innovative idea that all of us could see a need for." For his efforts, Jamie received a laptop loaded with design software and his school received pound;2,000 for the DT department as well as a design-inspired trip to Germany for his teacher. The runners-up received pound;250 of WH Smith vouchers and pound;750 for their school for DT resources.
Liz Polson, a DT teacher of Ravenscroft School who attended the ceremony with Jamie, says the introduction of the awards encouraged students to be more inventive: "My head of department introduced the awards as a way to get the kids to think outside the box and we had some interesting designs.
I am so proud that Jamie has won and we will definitely be doing it again next year."
l For details of next year's awards Tel: 01280 818769 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org