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12-year-old wins design contest with plastic dome

Design competitions aren't just for adults, as 12-year-old Max Wallack has proved by winning $10,000 for his plastic dome for the homeless built with trash.

Twelve-year-old Max Wallack of Natick spent a day last week being followed around by television cameras, hanging out with engineers and building a model of his latest invention: A shelter for the homeless made from plastic, wire and packing peanuts.

The folks at the WGBH show "Design Squad" selected Wallack's idea from more than 1,000 entries for their Trash to Treasure contest. As the grand prize winner, he will receive $10,000 from the Intel Foundation and a laptop computer.

While the action is noble, I have to wonder what homeless person would ever use this. Here in San Francisco we have our fair share of homeless folks on the street and the basic cheap camping tent seems to be the home of choice. It folds up and can be carried around in a shopping cart. Any time there is some encampment that is big enough, or around for long enough, it gets broken up by the police and everyone moves along, making this useless.

Also curious is why the dome keeps getting called a yurt.

Link via Gizmodo

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LauraT541 year ago

I think this is a wonderful idea! It would be nice if cities set up designated areas for the homeless using these.

FaqMan8 years ago
Wow alot of hate in some comments and mixed decisions but perosonal the idea is great not just for homeless but for practicle camping and portable biosphere uses for other uses. The kid who designed this is 12 and I give him great credit for building. Hopeful this makes it on the markets.Well now this might make me sound a bit like a hypocret but looking in the picture the packing peanutsfor pillows can have a few extra layers of plastic so the peanuts would be a less visible and be a bit more product from tear. Oter than that love the idea.
15 mph winds would wake you up under the stars
ReCreate8 years ago
a hating comment made me laugh
its like seeing a homeless person trying to make an igloo in the middle of the sidewalk
An igloo,really?
c'mon it looks more like a broken egg to me
so ingenious and funny looking
It looks like half of Moshenbuu's egg LOL :D (obviosly a Dragon Ball Z fan) well it's really cool it looks like it would be possible to fold up if he hinged all the hexagons together at one spot. and put snaps on the other sides to snap it to the other ones.
Wow, all the haters... I think this is fantastic that a 12 yr old kid is thinking about those less fortunate, and putting his imagination and other skills to GOOD USE. Of course the design can be shot with holes. Any design can be, but this young man deserves a standing ovation for thinking about others - something that most of his peers NEVER do.
i think the basic idea is okay, mayb not for homeless...but for other things, ummm it cant be completely sealed it be like crawling inside a trash bag...suffocation by dome. maybe not portable, but maybe the idea is that its made from trash, if u have to move on then u make a new one? or maybe there are areas where he lives that dont get broken up by the cops, who knows....i'm thinking mini greenhouse.... i dont think homeless are worried bout doors....gotta be better than cardboard boxes.
cardboard boxes are actually really warm. I slept in one for a week and loved it. though, would I like to spend weeks in one? maybe, maybe not. warm, insulated, not bad.
westfw8 years ago
All things considered, I think the idea of using foam packing peanuts as insulation is a pretty good idea; the things are a pain to dispose of in general. It does make me nervous that there aren't any safety rules for such peanuts (that I know of); as people have mentioned they're probably scary flammable (but perhaps not compared to cloth tents.), plus the sort of "indoor pollution" issues if you're going to build "homes" out of them (solvent vapors, etc.) OTOH, I've let my kids play in a huge box of the things (sort of a "ball pit.) As a lot of other people have pointed out, it's not really a very helpful design in terms of sheltering the homeless, or even for disaster shelters. Those are complex problems, but at the core in this case is that a place to put the shelter is more of a problem than the shelter itself. I wonder if you can make a sort of "Strand Board" out of peanuts and other waste material? A comparatively lightweight and insulative material sort of like extra-thick foam-core art board...
Uncle Kudzu8 years ago
might make a nice little greenhouse to extend your growing season. pretty darned clever, anyway. my hat is off to the kid.
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