04 September 2020

At 13, she’s designed the ‘Electrodeck’ which could change the world of skateboarding, but Charlotte Geary has actually got both feet firmly on the ground

She was the 13-year-old who caused a stir last month by designing a new skateboard that could reshape the skating world.

But the headlines - and the award she won for her design - have left Charlotte Geary unfazed and, as NewsChain discovered when we met up, with her feet firmly on the ground.

The teenager, from Ferndown in Dorset, designed a motor-powered, multi-directional skateboard called the ‘Electrodeck’ that can reach speeds of 10mph.

After only skateboarding twice in her life, the lightbulb moment happened in March when a new skateboarding concept came to mind.

Coincidentally it was a day later when her cousin Callum, who works as an engineer, told her about the Engineering and Technology Sports of the Future competition, and it was in then she realised it was ‘meant to be’.  

She said: "I was out on my penny board literally the day before the competition and I was saying to my mum, ‘you know it would be so much easier if you could skate without having to touch the floor and you would have so much more balance as well.'

She was also inspired after regularly visiting Bournemouth beach, where she had seen ‘electric scooters and bikes’ and ‘tons of skateboarders’.

She added: "I thought ‘you know what, it would be a really good idea’ especially because being a teenager I know a lot of teens who would rather be on their phones.

“When I saw everyone down at Bournemouth on all the different electric scooters and bikes, I thought it would be so nice to try that other option that’s also considered a sport.”

She spent months in the office at home during coronavirus lockdown coming up with sketches and designs after being home-schooled each morning, and continued to work on the idea, and that is when the ‘Electrodeck’ was born.

It is designed to be like a normal skateboard where you can still put your foot down, but you can also use the handheld Bluetooth remote to go faster.

She added: “I never focused the whole thing on myself it was more like how could it benefit everyone else, how could it benefit people my age, people older than me and younger than me.”

Away from her budding engineer role, Charlotte is a fairly typical 13-year-old and enjoys playing music and sport - she’s a defender for Merley Cobham FC in the Dorset girls under-14 league.

But she has not always been as confident as she comes across. In Year 5 she suffered from anxiety and panic attacks, but then she discovered music and it was through playing she managed to build her confidence.

Now, a lead ambassador at  the school, she feels more than comfortable to present assemblies at school on topics such as mental health, as well as performing on the guitar.

She said: "I was so easily put down and so nervous all the time. When people ask if I have always been [confident], the answer is no. About three or four years ago I would have said different.

“I was the complete opposite. My first day of school you would have thought I wouldn’t have spoken for the next four years.”

And now she has emerged from lockdown not only a rising musician and sportswoman, but also an engineer.

She said: “The good thing about engineering is that all the subjects kind of link into it, you’ve got to have a bit of maths in there, a bit of art, sport gave me the idea and music taught me to be creative.”

Her father Alan is a teacher while her mother Rachel is a beautician, and she has an eight-year-old sister, Ellie.

Rachel said it was hard to find something Charlotte ‘isn’t good at’ and described her as ‘hard working,' ‘compassionate’ and ‘outgoing’ teenager.

Geary's drawings as the 'Electrodeck' idea was coming to life (Charlotte Geary)

While working on her new skateboarding project, figuring out the name was an easy task for the youngster. 

She said: “The name was decided in the moment, I wanted it to sum up the skateboard and something that rolls off the tongue that is very easy to say.”

But the original idea was designed to be without the handheld remote. 

She said: "Originally I had made the design to be like a hoverboard where there is a leaning movement, so when you lean you move.

"But we had to change it to a remote control because imagine if you were going over a bump, you are going to lean back and the whole board is going to start moving in the opposite direction and it would be a mess.

"But as we try and progress it, we are going to try and find a way to make it just the leaning component.

“It would be a big change as no one else has been able to do that before, so as soon as we do that hopefully we will be able to start selling it in skate shops.”

With an obvious interest in music and a bedroom filled with microphones and guitars, does it mean music will ultimately come  before engineering?

“I will never shut the door on engineering as it could be a path I could take and it could go quite successfully,” she added.
“But I’m ambitious to contribute a lot when I’m older especially with music and sport.”

She says as she has grown older she has found music ‘allows you to forget everything’ and ‘to forget any of the bad stuff’.

Having spoken to her, you get the impression there’s plenty  of ‘good stuff’ ahead.

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