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March 30, 2004

Twenty-Six Teams of Area Students to Present Toy Designs at April 3 TOYchallenge Showcase at Smith College

Sally Ride Science Club™, Hasbro, Inc., and Smith Present National Design Contest To Encourage Middle School-Aged Kids, Especially Girls, to Pursue Their Interest In Science and Engineering While Having Fun

Editor's note: Click here for list of area teams ...

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- Smith College will host the second of five TOYchallenge™ regional showcases on Saturday, April 3. The fun-fueled toy- and game-design competition aims to motivate and encourage girls and boys to use their science, engineering and design skills. The winners of the contest -- which is sponsored by Hasbro, Inc., and Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society -- will be announced at a national showcase to be held at the San Diego Aerospace Museum on July 8.

TOYchallenge was developed by Sally Ride, founder of the Sally Ride Science Club, Domenico Grasso, director of Smith College's Picker Engineering Program, and Hasbro, Inc., as an outreach activity to engage middle school-aged 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 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 Grade 6, more girls than boys drift away from these subjects. While open to all U.S. students in Grades 5 through 8, TOYchallenge focuses on catching girls' attention in these subjects in order to keep them in the engineering "pipeline."

"We need more women in engineering because we need greater diversity at the design table," explained Grasso. "TOYchallenge reaches the next generation of engineers by challenging students' minds and imaginations in a context they enjoy."

To join in the fun of TOYchallenge, interested kids are encouraged to a) form a design team, find an adult coach, and register (registration fee is $25 per team); b) choose a theme from seven toy categories such as "Build It!," "Get out and Play" and "Remarkable Robots"; and c) create and submit their regional showcase entry, consisting of a visual presentation, written description and early version of their original toy or game concept. Teams that are not able to attend one of the regional events may mail in their written entry. In order to participate in the national showcase, teams must then construct a working prototype or model of their design.

TOYchallenge guidelines and registration forms are available at Both boys and girls in Grades 5 through 8 may participate, but at least half of the members of each team must be girls. All submissions will be judged on originality, creativity, engineering elegance, feasibility, design process description, team participation and clarity of communication. Five teams at each regional event will be awarded $250 development grants to go toward presenting their toy or game at the national showcase. Category and grand prizewinners will be announced at the July finals. There will also be special awards for team spirit, originality and engineering design at each event.

The April 3 showcase opens to the public at 10 a.m. with welcoming remarks from officials from Smith College, Hasbro and the Sally Ride Science Club. All events will take place in Scott Gymnasium. During a break in the judging, teams will have lunch and visit Smith's renowned Botanic Garden and Museum of Art. Awards will be presented at 2:30 p.m.

Smith College is consistently ranked among the nation's foremost liberal arts colleges. Enrolling 2,800 students from every state and 60 other countries, Smith is the largest undergraduate women's college in the country. Smith's Picker Engineering Program, the first such program at a U.S. women's college, is focused on developing broadly educated, engineers capable of assuming leadership roles in corporations, non-profit organizations and technology-related fields. The college's first engineering majors will graduate in May.

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, Sally Ride Science Camps, TOYchallenge™ and the Sally Ride Science Club.

Hasbro, Inc., (NYSE:HAS) is a worldwide leader in children's and family leisuretime 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.

Sigma Xi (, The Scientific Research Society, is the international honor society that recognizes research achievement in science and engineering. The society is a diverse organization with more than 70,000 members dedicated to the advancement of science and engineering. Sigma Xi publishes American Scientist magazine (, sponsors a grant program for young researchers, organizes programs and services in the areas of ethics, science and engineering education, communication of science and engineering and international networking.

Laurie Fenlason, Smith College (413) 585-2190,
Toni DiMartino, Sally Ride Science Club, (858) 638-0960,
Julie Duffy, Hasbro, (401) 727-5931,
Linda Schmalbeck, Sigma Xi, (800) 243-6534,


Office of College Relations
Smith College
Garrison Hall
Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
News Assistant
T (413) 585-2190
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