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Patent Office Hosts Toy Design Competition For Students

The Patent Office said the competition aims to show students from grades five to eight that engineering is collaborative, creative, and all around them.

K.C. Jones

May 13, 2008

2 Min Read

Students on the East Coast will have the opportunity to tout their skills as toy designers during a competition hosted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week.

The Patent Office announced that its 2008 Sally Ride Science TOYchallenge East Coast National Showcase will be held Saturday. The Patent Office said the competition aims to show students from grades five to eight that engineering is collaborative, creative, and all around them. It was created by Sally Ride, the first American woman to reach outer space, and it is one of several youth outreach efforts by the Patent Office.

Teams that make the cut through preliminary rounds will develop working prototypes of their toys or games so they can be judged nationally. The toys must fit into predetermined categories, including games for the family, get out and play, and toys that teach. Judges examine entries and participants for originality, creativity, feasibility, design process description, teamwork, and communication.

More than 100 teams of three to six students are expected to enter the national competition, which is sponsored by the Northrop Grumman Foundation and supported by Southwest Airlines. In all, about 450 students are expected to participate. Each team must have an equal male-to-female ratio.

Jon Dudas, undersecretary of commerce for intellectual property, said he hopes students will gain inspiration from the experience of inventing, continue developing new ideas, and use their creative skills in everyday life.

"Now, more than ever, it is important to provide young people, especially girls, with science experiences that take them out of the classroom and into the world," Ride said.

The Patent Office is trying to do that in other ways as well. It cooperates with the Ad Council on a three-year public service announcement campaign to encourage children ages 8-11 to be creative and invent. The campaign includes a Web site with games, activities, and information about protecting intellectual property. The Patent Office also recently released a new curriculum for creating and learning about patents, trademarks, and copyrights.

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