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July 8 , 2004

Grand Prizewinners Named at TOYchallenge Showcase

Smith, Hasbro and Sally Ride Science Sponsor National Showcase for Kid Toy Designers

NORTHAMPTON, Mass. -- At the San Diego Aerospace Museum yesterday, middle-school teams from California and Ohio shared top honors at the national finals of TOYchallenge 2004, a toy- and game-design competition created by Smith College, Sally Ride Science™ and Hasbro, Inc., to motivate and encourage middle school-aged kids, especially girls, to pursue science and engineering as study or career fields.

First place went to the Wave Riders of Irvine, Calif., for their kid-friendly surf board called “Boogie 2 Boogie” and to Knowledge Seekers of Chillicothe, Ohio, for their board game “I Could be a…,” which comes in medicine, science and law versions.   Second place went to Tinker Thinkers of Orinda, Calif., for “Otto’s Organizer,” a stuffed animal that doubles as a child’s school caddy.

“This year’s entries were very impressive, the level of innovation and intricacy exhibited in the kids’ designs was just incredible,” said Sally Ride, founder of Sally Ride Science. “The continued success of TOYchallenge reinforces the strong need for providing our country’s children, especially girls, with creative, hands-on science education programs in order to ensure a solid science workforce for the future.”

The top three TOYchallenge designs were selected from entries submitted by teams of children in Grades 5 through 8 from throughout the country, half of whose members were required to be girls.  Twenty-six teams from New England submitted entries that were featured in a regional showcase at Smith College in April.

With the guidance of an adult coach, the teams chose a theme from seven toy categories, including “Games for the Family,” “Get out and Play” and “Remarkable Robots.” A panel of judges made up of Smith College engineering professors, Hasbro toymakers and Sigma Xi board members evaluated the entries on originality, creativity, engineering elegance, feasibility, communication and team participation.

“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 Karen David, vice president of community relations for 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.”

“Joining creativity with engineering concepts is a winning combination,” said Domenico Grasso, director of Smith College’s Picker Engineering Program. “It’s never too early for kids, especially girls, to get that message.”

“Sigma Xi members and chapters have a longstanding tradition of nurturing future generations of scientists and engineers," said executive director Patrick D. Sculley. “We were pleased to join Sigma Xi member Sally Ride and the other sponsors in supporting this creative, dynamic competition. All of the participants, as well as the award-winners, are to be congratulated.”

Design Category Prizes were also awarded to six teams, including two teams from New England:  The Ions of Pembroke, Mass., coached by Sue Turley, and the Hanaford Hawks of East Greenwich, R.I., coached by Amanda Pretto. 

TOYchallenge 2005 will officially launch on September 12, 2004, at the third annual Sally Ride Science Festival at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. The registration deadline is December 15. If teams pre-register by September 12, they can receive a free TOYchallenge 2004 T-shirt for each team member, while supplies last. For more information, please visit or call (800) 561-5161.

TOYchallenge™ was developed by Sally Ride, founder of Sally Ride Science™, 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 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 on catching girls’ attention in these subjects in order to keep them in the engineering “pipeline.”  Hasbro and Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, are sponsors of TOYchallenge 2004.

Sally Ride Science
Sally Ride Science™ was 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. In addition to TOYchallenge™, current programs include Sally Ride Science Festivals, Sally Ride Science Camps 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 nurture their relationship with science. For more information on Sally Ride Science programs, visit, or call (800) 561-5161.

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 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 graduated in May.

Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, ( is the international honor society of science and engineering. The Society is a diverse organization with more than 70,000 members in more than 500 chapters in North America and overseas. Sigma Xi publishes American Scientist magazine (, sponsors a grant program for young researchers and organizes programs and services in the areas of research ethics, science and engineering education, the public understanding of science and technology, and international research cooperation. The Society’s administrative offices are located in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

The San Diego Aerospace Museum celebrates the history of aviation and space flight, educates the public in aerospace technology and inspires young people of all ages to excel in math and the sciences. A non-profit organization and the first aerospace-themed museum to receive accreditation by the American Association of Museums in 1986, San Diego Aerospace Museum is located in San Diego, Calif. For additional information, call (619) 234-8291 or visit

Additional Contacts:
Sally Ride Science – Toni DiMartino, (858) 638-0960,
Hasbro, Inc. – Julie Duffy, (401) 727-5931,
Sigma Xi – Patrick Sculley, (800) 243-6534,
San Diego Aerospace Museum – Ruth Chandler Varonfakis, (858) 273-0928,


Office of College Relations
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Northampton, Massachusetts 01063

Marti Hobbes
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