Maths board Méadú wins Irish leg of the James Dyson Award 2022

7 Sep 2022

Image: James Dyson Award

Méadú is a device invented by Wicklow-native Paul Hendrick to help primary school students learn their tables in an interactive way.

A wooden board that aims to help children overcome maths anxiety has been awarded the top prize in the Irish leg of this year’s James Dyson Award.

Méadú (Irish for ‘increase’) is designed to make maths lessons more interactive for older primary school students aged between seven and 12. It specifically helps them learn multiplication up to the 12 times tables.

Designed by Wicklow-native Paul Hendrick, a product design graduate from TU Dublin, Méadú consists of a wooden board, two sliders, a whiteboard on the underside and a maths fact sheet.

The wooden board has the multiplication table from one times one to 12 times 12 written on it, and students can use the sliders to align with numbers on the edges of the board and intersect to highlight the product of the two numbers.

Additionally, the whiteboard can be used for any rough work or drawing that goes with the learning process, while the fact sheet located under the central board gives students easy access to maths facts for use during lessons.

Designing new ideas

Now in its 17th year, the James Dyson Award supports budding designers and engineers looking to kick-start their careers by creating something that solves an existing problem.

It is open to anyone who has been enrolled for at least one semester in an undergraduate or graduate engineering or design-related course in the past four years.

Previous Irish winners include designs for an ‘everlasting shoe’ and a repeat-use medical kit.

Progressing to the final international round, Méadú will now compete against 27 other national winners for the top prize of £30,000, to be announced on 16 November. Hendrick has already bagged £5,000 as a national winner to invest in improving Méadú’s design and functionality.

The two runners-up in the Irish leg of this year’s James Dyson Award were Proteus Controller, a customised game controller for gamers with disabilities, and Flare, a smart garment engineered to alleviate hot flushes in women during menopause.

Hendrick got his idea when conducting user research within primary schools, where teachers flagged that there was a relative lack of physical maths resources for older primary school students at a time when topics increased in difficulty – especially in multiplication.

“They said that multiplication is often one of the harder concepts to understand and doesn’t have a lot of physical resources. The focus area was then decided and attempts to design a solution began,” he said.

Hendrick now plans to develop more final products for long-term testing within learning support classrooms in primary schools. “The long plan is to introduce the product into mainstream classrooms and for it to become commonplace in schools across the country.”

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Vish Gain is a journalist with Silicon Republic