Student Features

Sally Ride Science's TOYchallenge
Six girls pose wearing bow ties and top hats in front of their game display
Do you love a challenge? How about a challenge to invent a new toy or game?

Image to left: The Bow Tie team created a game called Poozle. Credit: Sally Ride Science

Sally Ride Science's TOYchallenge is seeking the best and most creative ideas for toys. Why would a former astronaut care about toys? Sally Ride knows that toys are fun, but that designing toys also develops creativity, science, engineering and mathematics skills.

Ride wants to help girls succeed in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. As America's first woman in space, she knows first-hand about women working in male-dominated fields. Ride wants girls to become more interested in technology and to have the foundation to pursue any of these potential careers.

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The competition is open to students in grades 5, 6, 7 and 8. Teams can have between three and six members, and at least half of the team members must be girls. The team also needs an adult coach, but that coach doesn't have to be a classroom teacher. The toy or game idea must cost less than $200 to produce. Contest categories include Toys That Teach, Games for the Family, and Get Out and Play. All of the rules are listed on the Sally Ride Science's TOYchallenge Web site.

A girl wearing a bow tie and a top hat stands in front of her team's game display
The deadline to submit your preliminary design is in January 2007. After judging, teams with the highest-rated designs will be invited to participate in the east or west coast national competitions. Prizes will be announced at a later date, but one of the past awards has included a behind-the-scenes tour of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Image to left: Winning teams get to present their toy ideas at Nationals. Credit: Sally Ride Science

Do you want to be a future toy or spacecraft designer? You have only a few months to get everything ready, so now is the time to take action!

NASA is committed to building strategic partnerships and linkages between science, technology, engineering and mathematics formal and informal educators. Through hands-on, interactive educational activities, NASA is engaging students, educators, families, the general public and all agency stakeholders to increase Americans' science and technology literacy.

Debbie Brown-Biggs/Sally Ride Science
Maggie Griffin/NASA Educational Technology Services