June 4, 2003
TO VIE FOR "BEST IN SHOW" AT TOYchallenge
Budding Designers and Engineers
NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Remember the movie "Big?" On Saturday, June 14, reality will imitate art when girls and boys from throughout the United States will unveil their toys in the culmination of TOYchallenge, a national toy and game competition designed to encourage students' interest in engineering, inspiring them to pursue careers in math and science.
Organized for teams comprised of children in Grades 5 through 8 -- half of whom are required to be girls -- finals at Smith College will consist of the top ten teams pre-selected by a panel, as well as more than 40 other teams who were encouraged to finalize their toys for presentation at the national TOYchallenge Festival sponsored by the Sally Ride Science Club, Smith College and Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE:HAS).
The top ten teams -- each awarded $250 to cover the costs of advancing their designs from paper to prototype -- were selected from more than 240 entries. The designs from the 55 teams attending the festival will be judged on originality, creativity, engineering elegance, feasibility, communication and team participation.
Three grand prizes* will be awarded, including a week at Space Camp for each team member; a Hasbro action figure personalized in their likenesses and a behind-the-scenes tour of Hasbro, Inc.; and a VIP tour of NASA's Kennedy Space Center for the team members and their families, which will include a private question-and-answer session with an astronaut. (*Travel not included.)
"We expected to see some really creative entries but have been truly impressed by the high level of sophistication of the designs and team presentations," said Sally Ride, founder of the Sally Ride Science Club. "It's wonderful to witness how the opportunity to create something from the ground up, in a supportive team environment, can bring out such pride and confidence in both boys and girls. This is so important in encouraging middle school-aged kids, especially girls, to stick with their interests in science and math."
"You can preach all you want about the value of math and science and about the important role of engineers in our society, but if kids don't see the discovery in it -- and the fun -- they're going to tune you out," says Domenico Grasso, director of Smith's engineering program. "The key is to meet them where their creative interests lie."
"At Hasbro, our heart and soul goes into making all of our products, but a key element of a truly fun toy or game is the intricate design and engineering behind it," noted Alan Hassenfeld, chairman of Hasbro, Inc. "We are very excited that TOYchallenge is not only helping kids understand the mechanics of product development, but is also allowing them to have fun playing with their own creations."
At the TOYchallenge Festival on June 14, the kid-designed toys will be on display with many teams on hand to discuss designs with attendees as well as the judging panel. The festival will feature a keynote address by astronaut Sally Ride and a street fair full of fun activities and music. Attendees can also register* to participate in interactive Discovery Workshops designed for both kids and adults. Workshops for kids include a hands-on session with Hasbro engineers about toy design and a program with Smith engineering professors about environmental considerations in design. Workshops for adults will address such topics as "Recognizing the Scientist in Your Child" and "Helping Children Prepare for College." (*Registration fee applies.)
Attendance at the toy display, keynote address, street fair and final judging are free and open to the public without registration. To pre-register for the Discovery Workshops, call (800) 561-5161 or (413) 585-4200 or email email@example.com by Monday, June 9. The $15 registration fee includes workshop participation and materials, a box lunch and a raffle drawing. Workshop pre-registration is highly recommended as space is limited.
TOYchallenge Festival Schedule
TOYchallenge a concept based on the first-year engineering design course at Smith College, was developed by Domenico Grasso, chair of the college's engineering program, and Sally Ride, founder of Imaginary Lines, Inc. and the Sally Ride Science Club, as an outreach activity to engage middle school-aged 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 9 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. Unfortunately, beginning around the 6th grade, more girls than boys drift away from these subjects. While open to all U.S. students in Grades 5 through 8, TOYchallenge focuses heavily on catching girls' attention in these subjects in order to keep them in the engineering "pipeline." Hasbro is this year's sponsor of TOYchallenge.
Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation's foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 55 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women's college in the country. Established in 1999, Smith's Picker Engineering Program -- the first and only engineering program at a U.S. women's college -- is focused on developing broadly educated, well-rounded engineers capable of assuming leadership roles in corporations, non-profit organizations and technology-related fields. The first class of engineering majors will graduate in 2004, earning bachelor's degrees in engineering science.
The Sally Ride Science Club is operated by Imaginary Lines, Inc., a company founded by astronaut Sally Ride to support the large numbers of girls and young women who are, or might become, interested in science, math and technology. The company organizes quality events, programs and activities for girls that empower them, engage them and encourage their interests. Programs include the Sally Ride Science Festivals, TOYchallenge and the Sally Ride Science Club, a national club created to keep middle school-aged girls engaged in science adventures by connecting them to people, information and attitudes that will nurture their relationship with science at a critical time in their lives.
Hasbro, Inc. (NYSE:HAS) is a worldwide leader in children's and family leisure time entertainment products and services, including the design, manufacture and marketing of games and toys ranging from traditional to high-tech. Both internationally and in the U.S., its Playskool, Tonka, Milton Bradley, Parker Brothers, Tiger and Wizards of the Coast brands and products provide the highest quality and most recognizable play experiences in the world.
Smith College Laurie Fenlason, (413) 585-2190 or (413) 695-1771 firstname.lastname@example.org
Sally Ride Science Club Toni DiMartino, (858) 638-0960 or (917) 576-2861 email@example.com
Hasbro Stacey Roberts, (401) 727-5318 or (617) 510-8269 firstname.lastname@example.org