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Age Range: 11-14
Duration: 60 or more mins
  • D&T
  • Engineering
  • Physics

Designing a sports wheelchair

Designing a sports wheelchair for a Marathon race

The first London Marathon wheelchair race took place in 1983 in which 19 people took part with 17 completing the race. The winner, Gordon Perry, set a winning time of just over 3 hours and 20 minutes. With the advancements in engineering and technology since that date, wheelchair racing has come a long way, and in 2021, Marcel Hug won the London Marathon’s men’s wheelchair race setting a new course record with a time of just over 1 hour and 26 minutes! 

This activity is focused on the design of racing wheelchairs, but also develops understanding about the use of search engines. It considers the use of different search terms when using internet-based research using search engines and how this affects the outcomes of the search. The main activity involves designing a racing wheelchair considering key aspects to enhance its performance.

Activity info, teachers’ notes and curriculum links

In this activity, learners will use the theme of marathons and athletics to respond to a design context, investigate the context on the internet and design a wheelchair for sports use.

This activity could be used as a main lesson activity to develop skills in designing. It could also be used to teach learners about how to search the internet effectively to gain the information that is most applicable to their requirements.

Tools/resources required

  • Pens, pencils and drawing instruments
  • Computer access for internet searching

Download the free activity sheets below!

All activity sheets and supporting resources are free to download and are fully editable, so you can tailor them to your students’ and your schools’ needs.

The activity sheet includes teacher notes, guidance, useful web links, and links (where appropriate) to the national curriculum in each of the four devolved UK nations; England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales.

And please do share your learning highlights and final creations with us on social media @IETeducation or send them via email to

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