Underside of tray trolley showing tray drop mechanism
Trolleys in use
|A special needs school had two trolleys which were used by the children to dispose of food waste, cutlery and crockery after their midday meal. The original trolleys were unsuitable in a number of ways. Metal crosspieces of no structural value prevented the use of bins deep enough to take all the items for a single meal. There was no surface at the front where the children could rest their trays while placing the items in the bins. This made things particularly difficult for those who do not have good coordination between their two hands and resulted in much debris on the floor. The upstand at the back was not high enough for the children to see the notices designating the contents of the bins.
The metal crosspieces were removed and new counter tops made which could hold the extra deep bins and had a higher upstand at the back where easily visible images could be displayed. Tray width shelves were attached to the front of the trolleys using brackets which allowed the shelves to be folded down when not in use.
There was a desire to make the trolleys fun to use and to provide some reward for successful completion of the task. The final station, by which point the children would only have their tray left, consisted of a tray shaped cut-out in the counter top with a metal strip at each side which would support the tray when placed in the recess. The strip on one side was connected to a pair of solenoids so that it could be withdrawn electrically allowing the tray to fall into a hopper in the lower part of the trolley. A speech recording module capable of recording a 10 second message was also included and connected to a loudspeaker located in the upstand at the back of the counter. A large illuminated green button was located at the front of the counter. As a final task, the children place the tray into the recess and press the green button, at which point the tray disappears and clatters into the hopper below and the recorded message (e.g. Well done, you have finished) plays. The trays fall in a neat pile and can be retrieved by the kitchen staff.
A microphone was provided so that new messages could be recorded. It is likely that the school will encourage pupils to take turns in recording the message, perhaps changing the message every week.