Hover wheelchair scoops Britain’s Young Imagineer comp

10-year old Finlay Minter won the Statoil and Science Museum’s quest to find the inventors of tomorrow

Earlier this year Statoil and the Science Museum asked 7-14 years olds across the UK to submit their most creative, imaginative and inspirational ideas to help make the world a better place. Young Imagineers was set up in search of Britain’s most imaginative and creative young people. The competition celebrates the UK’s youngest and most innovative minds in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM)

This year’s winner, Finlay Minter from Surrey, was revealed during a fun-packed day of entertainment at the Science Museum in central London. With science quizzes and fun experiments, like making bubbles and electricity, the audience was treated to a full day of science before the winner was announced. Popular science presenter Dallas Campbell had the honour of making the announcement, following deliberation by an expert panel of judges, Steph McGovern, Jill Tully, Lopa Patel and Greg Foot. 

In total, 356 entries from across the country were received in just four weeks. After the competition closed, the ten shortlisted entrants were given the opportunity to further develop their invention with the help of a professional designer. The finalists then presented their newly developed designs to the expert panel and live audience. These ideas ranged from dream makers and hovering wheelchairs to flying suits that are eco-friendly and technology which helps deaf people converse with those who don’t know sign language. 

“Science and technology impact our lives every day and we must all work together to ensure that young children are as excited by this as we are.’

Finlay Minter was selected as the 2017 Statoil Young Imagineer and Dorothy Higgins from Essex was awarded highly commended. Finlay’s invention was a carbon fibre hover wheelchair with titanium wheels. Using magnetics, the idea was designed to assist wheelchair users to get upstairs, onto trains and buses without needing to ask for help. Finlay’s idea was inspired by seeing his Nan, who struggles with stairs and getting on buses, and his Aunt who uses a wheelchair.

Finlay will now have his invention brought to life and displayed outside Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery, at the Science Museum, where it will be seen by thousands of museum visitors. Finlay will also be awarded an honorary position as Children’s Inspiration Officer at the museum for a day – where he will enjoy an exclusive tour of the museum with a friend, lunch with some of the museum’s enthusiastic Explainers and a host of Science Museum goodies to take home. All runners up received an annual pass to Wonderlab: The Statoil Gallery for themselves and their families and a range of Wonderlab goodies. 

Jill Tully, Investment Manager at Statoil Energy Ventures, said: “I couldn’t have been more encouraged by the quality of entries to the Young Imagineers competition. Children are the inventors and engineers of the future and all of the entries showed the exact ambition and potential that we need from this generation.” 

BBC broadcaster Steph McGovern, added: “Science and technology impact our lives every day and we must all work together to ensure that young children are as excited by this as we are. We have a duty to inspire the next generation of Imagineers and encourage them to consider careers in STEM. This is vital for the future!”