Jacobs Ladder toy

Toy story – integrated STEAM project

  • design a toy – doodle, draw, CAD, make. CNC
  • based on / include at least one simple machine
  • presentation – how it was made – movie, pictures, animation, 5 slides
  • vocabulary – toys
  • LEGO walking animals (video 3:52) a waddling duck and hopping kangaroo. They are based on traditional mechanical wooden toys that use gravity to walk down a ramp. More information, photos and the step by step building instructions — hinge, gravity

A toy is any item that can be used for play. Playing with toys is an enjoyable means of training the young for life in society.

The origin of toys is prehistoric; dolls representing infants, animals, and soldiers, as well as representations of tools used by adults are readily found at archaeological sites. The origin of the word “toy” is unknown, but it is believed that it was first used in the 14th century.

Toys excavated from the Indus valley civilization (3000-1500 BCE) include small carts, whistles shaped like birds, and toy monkeys which could slide down a string.

The earliest toys were made from materials found in nature, such as rocks, sticks, and clay.

Toy manufacturers employ engineers in many capacities, from streamlining the production process, to testing toys for safety and durability, to designing packaging. As technology advances and kids become more sophisticated, however, toy companies are relying on their engineering staffs to invent new products and improve upon old favorites.

  • materials, particularly plastics. “When it comes to plastics, you have to know about the thickness, material characteristics and failure analysis. You also have to know about molding and the processes involved in making the parts,” production costs and safety are always concerns
  • Zowie PlayZones, integrate action figures and PCs allowing a child to play with the figures and control the action on the computer screen.. navigate a ship on screen by moving action figures and turning the wheel on a playset. The PlayZones utilize sensing and recognition technologies that track the movement of the figures and transmit the information to the PC through an embedded antenna.
  • Nerf rocket launcher presented a technical challenge. “The stress force on the firing chamber, which is all plastic, is intensive,” Smith notes. There’s also the issue of preventing the device from firing anything it shouldn’t, like a pencil—what engineers in the industry would call “an improvised projectile.”

Mr. Potato Head
Hot Wheels

  • Toy Manufacturers of America


  • Dolls
  • Construction toys


  • Nuclear Engineer Wins $73m in Super Soaker Royalties – Super Soaker has generated a over $1 billion in sales. put the energy in a little bit at a time by driving a large air pump repeatedly, with each stroke adding more air to produce greater compression and store more energy. Repeated pump strokes sent air into a strong chamber filled with water. The pressure grew and grew, until a pull on the trigger unleashed torrents.




  • Romo is a digital creature who lives in your phone and explores your world on his roving base. Use Romo to communicate with others at home through video calls and maneuver the Romo remote via WiFi from a web browser, and follow them around the house, whether they are in the next room or thousand of miles away.

That’s Engineering – How did they do that? How does it work?

GoldieBlox: a construction toy for girls.- promote the education of girls and more specifically, their learning in science and math. took a year of research with over 100 children to develop

Boys build stuff. Girls like to read. Girls need to understand and experiment with spacial relationships and simple machines if they are to become engineers.

  • Simple machines are, well…, simple so they can be made and used in all sorts of ways. Some will appeal to girls. Colors help. A good story with illustrations is likely to interest girls.
  • Deciding what works can be the work of one engineer or designer. For some designs, the developer works with dozens of variations and has them tested by hundreds of target users – kids in this case.
  • In order to produce a commercial product to sell in toy stores, the developer had to pay to have the toys built. Because there is a lot to set up to manufacture these toys, they have to make at least 5000 toys. That is very expensive for a new company just getting started.
  • The first toy was successful, so they will be adding more new toy designs soon.

Engineering ideas

  • wheels and axles, pulleys, force and friction

Do itl
Now it is your turn. Here are some challenges for you to work on…

  • design your own engineering toys
  • design your own engineering toys for girls. What makes yours one that girls will like?

Learn more…