Serious Fun: Toy Design at MIT
The Mechanical Engineering course 2.00b, Toy Product Design, gives first-year students hands-on engineering and product design experience as they develop a prototype for a new toy.
The course includes an introductory lecture during which students unwrap “gifts” and explore different toys—seeing the components of the product design process—and a group project in which student teams of five develop a new toy and showcase it at PLAYsensation, 2.00b’s final presentation.
“When it comes to learning, motivation is key,” Mechanical Engineering Professor David Robert Wallace SM ’91, PhD ’95 says. “So we create a fun environment in which students aren’t afraid. And sometimes you have to be a little goofy to break down those traditional barriers.”
The first-year course mixes lecture and hands-on lab work and gives students the opportunity to develop a toy from initial prototype to final product. Toys developed this year include Water Master, a wrist-mounted toy that shoots water based on how fast you punch, and Lightning Strike, an electronic table-top game that uses small paddles to defend a “lightning” attack.
“Toy design is about serious fun,” says Wallace. “It just isn’t about being serious.”