Lesson Plan

Toy Reboot

Students will revise or re-design a childhood toy in order to enhance it and make it more fun and/or exciting, as well as incorporating electrical circuits and programming. #STEMchallenge
Margaret S.
Classroom teacher
Ramona Convent Secondary School
Alhambra, United States
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My Grades 9, 10, 11, 12
My Subjects Science

Students will be able to...

  1. Apply the design process to a problem by:
    1. Stating the outcome of the project in terms of their chosen toy.
    2. Brainstorming possibilities, collecting and studying related ideas, and developing an initial design, using photos or drawings as well as words    
    3. Making a model (using wires/large LEDs or speakers) of the circuits, testing these, and revising/refining the model to create a working toy that can be “marketed” to the class.
  2. Develop diagrams (schematics) for parallel, series, combined electric circuit(s)to prepare to apply Ohm’s law in their own reimagined toy. 
  3.  Present their toys to the class and develop a one-minute "sales pitch" to demonstrate how their enhanced toy is "marketable" for a given age group.  Factors such as how enhanced the toy is from the original, durability, creativity, fun, attractiveness.
  4. Develop rubrics for the rebooted toy as well as for the student presentations.
  5. Judge the presentations and score the toy and presentation based on the rubrics.
  6. Create a "build" portfolio documenting their work from the initial brainstorming to the final presentation using text, photos, videos.
English Language Arts
Grades 8 – 10
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook: What Could Make a Toy Better? What Are Some Reimagined Toys?

Select a couple of illustrative videos from the site:
https://blog.arduino.cc/category/hacks/toy-hacking/ and show them to the class.

Demonstrate to the class how to create an account on FreshGrade, and how to begin to document their work with words, photos, videos.  They will begin by documenting their explorations of possible "toy-hacks" that they might do.  At this time, they don't need to select only toys that have electrical circuits or programming, as they will adapt whatever toy they choose to "do" something (light LEDs, make a sound, etc.) as a response to some action by the user (push a button, let light shine on it, etc).

Student Instructions

Your group will review some “re-imagined” toys or games using the website www.instructables.com, the Arduino toy hacking site, and at least two other sources of  your choosing. 
Some ideas to get  started:

  1. Holiday Toy Switch Adapting
  2. How to hack EEG toys with arduino
  3. Switch Adapted Giggle Pig

Document your explorations via screen clippings, photographs, or drawings using your FreshGrade account.  Be sure you include acknowledgements of any photos you use and that you list all websites you refer to.

2 Direct Instruction -- Electric Circuits

Using the diagrams in the Sparkfun "Series and Parallel Circuits" resource, students will use small LEDs and copper tape to recreate a parallel and a series circuit on a piece of paper.  Using coin cell batteries, students will check to see that their LEDs light up.   Have them document the finished product with photos, which they will post on their FreshGrade portfolio.

Instruct students to take an additional sheet of paper, and design and draw a "cover sheet" that will be put on top of their circuits so that the LEDs make the picture more interesting.  See http://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/paper-circuits for examples.

Student Instructions

You will make a series and a parallel circuit on paper using LEDs, copper tape, and coin cell batteries.  When you have completed your circuits, photograph them and add the photos, along with a brief commentary to your FreshGrade portfolio.  (Be sure to date your posting.)

Then, after you have drawn and designed your "cover page", photograph the lighted project, and add it to the portfolio along with a commentary.  (You may choose to do a video to document your work, and your comments can be on the video.)

3 Independent Practice -- Students work in pairs to enhance and electrify their toy.

Students work in pairs or trios to:

  1. Select the toy to be enhanced.
  2. Sketch (and document) the desired finished product.
  3. Using printed, sewn, drawn, or glued enhancements, students will revise the look and/or function of the toy. Document with words, photos, videos in portfolio.
  4. Using their sample series and parallel circuits, students will make some part of the toy light up; the lighting design should add to the toy's attractiveness or usefulness in an obvious way.  Document with words, photos, videos in portfolio.
Student Instructions

You will choose a partner (or two) to work with, and you will have to select one of the toys you envision to revise.  You need to bring the toy to school to work with; it will be permanently changed, so be sure you have permission from your parents.

Photograph the toy as it is, and sketch the finished product as you hope it will turn out.  Document with words and photos the finished product.

Revise your toy; there are materials so you can sew, print, draw, glue, or otherwise embellish the look of the toy.  Document with photos and videos your process.  Each of the partners needs to be actively involved in this step.

Using you sample series and parallel circuits, make some part of the toy light up; the lighting design should add to the toy's attractiveness or usefulness in an obvious way. Document with words, photos, videos in portfolio.

4 Wrap Up -- Student groups prepare their "sales pitch" and present their enhanced toy to the class.

Using Rubistar, engage students in creating the rubric for the final projects.  Students might include attractiveness of the final toy, degree of enhancement from original, ease of use, durability, fun factor, quality of the work done to enhance the toy, etc.

Students then prepare a one-minute "sales pitch" for the toy, using the rubric to sell the toy.  They should have a name for the toy.  They will demo and "sell" the toy to the class.  They will use a presentation tool, either Explain Everything or Prezi, for their "sales pitch"

Each group will present its enhanced toy in 1 1/2 minutes to the class -- one minute for the sales pitch and 1/2 minute to "show it"  live .  

The class will rate each toy based on the rubric, and will also rate the presentation on that rubric.  

(Prepare a 1/2 sheet ranking page for each toy, with the name of students and the name of the toy on each sheet,  using a 1-5 scale for each item in the two rubrics.  Students will need to collect the 1/2 sheets for their toys in order to calculate the average ratings, and you will want to collect them back again afterwards.)

Student grades will be based on the average ratings from the rubrics, as well as on the completeness and quality of their portfolio.  Students will calculate the averages of their own presentations using an online calculator or one on their tablets.

Student Instructions

After you have created your toy's name, and developed your one-minute "sales pitch",  include the sales pitch in your portfolio along with any compellingRe comments or photos that are not in the presentation.  

You will also calculate and post on your portfolio the AVERAGE ratings of the class for each of the points in the rubrics.