Design Ventura winning team develops flower seed cannon

The winners of the annual Design Museum schools challenge hope the design will help support bee populations with a new pollen source.

The Design Museum has announced the winner of this year’s Design Ventura school challenge is a flower seed cannon.

Sow Beautiful has been thought up by students from Heckmondwike Grammar School in West Yorkshire.

Declining bee populations

According to the students, the Sow Beautiful seed launcher is a solution to declining bee populations around the country.

A combination of factors, including habitat loss, climate change and pesticide use has seen bee numbers decimated in recent years.

In 2017, research suggested that every square kilometre in the UK had lost an average of 11 species of bee and hoverfly between 1980 and 2013.

The winning team with judge and brief-setter Yinka Ilori

Combining crafting and gardening

Sow Beautiful works by launching wildflower seeds, which can then grow and act as a source of pollen and sustenance for bee populations.

The product comes disassembled – users have to build their seed launcher from the kit of parts. This, the students say, is an effective combination of crafting and gardening and makes the invention more family-friendly.

Seeds are provided, and have been selected from the Royal Horticultural Society’s list of best pollinating wildflowers. The kit comes with natural clay and compressed compost, with which users can create their own “seed bombs”. The cannon launch effect is achieved using a balloon, and can be reused as often as needed.

Design Museum head of learning Fiona MacDonald commends the project for its sustainable approach. “The students have incorporated a sustainable approach into every aspect of their design, from the overall concept down to the details, including using biodegradable materials,” she says.

MacDonald adds: “It is wonderful to see the next generation boldly tackling the big challenges of our time in such a playful and guerrilla way.”

“Improves everyday life”

“Programmes for school age students such as Design Ventura are invaluable for encouraging creativity, problem solving and design thinking, at a time when sadly this is being squeezed out of the curriculum,” MacDonald continues.

2021 marks the eleventh year of the Design Ventura challenge, which is run in partnership with Deutsche Bank’s Born to Be programme.

This year’s brief was set by designer Yinka Ilori, and attracted submissions from 270 schools. The students were briefed to design a product that “improves everyday life”.

As with previous years, this year’s winners will have their product sold in the Design Museum Shop, with sale proceeds going to a charity of the students’ choice.

All images: © the Design Museum and Richard Heald

Second place team from Parkside Community College with their invention The Shoe Button


Third Place Davison High School for Girls with their invention Positivitree
Hide Comments (1)Show Comments (1)
  • Carl St. James June 14, 2021 at 3:49 pm

    It is wonderful to not only see innovative products coming from our Design and Technology departments but also to see how the winning teams are all girls. Despite female students often being pushed by schools into taking more ‘academic’ subjects they often fair better in areas incorrectly and traditionally seen as ‘boys’ subjects.

  • Post a comment

Latest articles