Toy Challenge

Above, and at left, the groups present their designs to the judges.
Local students present designs at TOY challenge

Christian Grenier of East Longmeadow, Adrianne Hanson of Wilbraham, and Victoria Mordasky of Stafford Springs, Conn., known collectively as The TOYriffic Titans; and Emma Camilleri of Wilbraham, Larysa Fradet of Amherst, Michaela Rollings of Longmeadow, and Stephanie Robbins of Wilbraham, known collectively as Toys with Poise, traveled to the Sigma Xi Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, on May 6 to participate in the TOYchallenge(TM) 2006 East Coast National Showcase.

The group, led by their mathematics teacher Lorraine Males, was one of 55 teams of students from across the country that participated in the fun-fueled toy- and game-design competition created by Sally Ride Science, Smith College, and Hasbro, Inc. to motivate and encourage middle school-age students, especially girls, to pursue science and engineering as study or career fields.

Micky Rollings and Stephanie Robbins earned raffle prizes, including a book signed by female astronaut Sally Ride and a make-it-yourself Rocket kit.

The TOYriffic Titans, with their game The Super Spiral Challenge, wowed the judges with their oversized electronic die and earned an Honorable Mention in their Category of Get Out and Play.

During the competition's Preliminary Round, teams compromised of at least 50 percent girls submitted written descriptions and visual presentations of their original toy or game concepts based on themed categories including Games for the Family, Get Out and Play, and Toys that Teach. Only 55 teams were chosen to move on.

The submissions were judged on originality, creativity, engineering elegance, feasibility, design process description, team participation, and clarity of communication.

TOYchallenge (TM) ( was developed by Sally Ride Science and Smith College's Picker Engineering Program as an outreach activity to engage middle school-age students, especially girls, in science and engineering and to inspire them to pursue careers in those fields.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, women comprise only 11 percent of the engineering workforce. However, studies show that, in elementary school, equal numbers of girls and boys are interested in and good at math, science and technology. Beginning around the sixth grade, more girls than boys drift away from these subjects. While open to all U.S. and Canadian students in grades five through eight, TOYchallenge(TM) focuses on catching girls' attention in these subjects in order to keep them in the engineering "pipeline." Hasbro has been the program's presenting sponsor since its inception. Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, serves as a principal sponsor for the second year in a row and Sony has joined TOYchallenge(TM) this year as a principal sponsor. Southwest Airlines is the official airline of the competition.

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