Sheffield youngsters designing toys of the future

pupils from Stocksbridge High School take part in the Design A Toy day at Sheffield Hallam University.
pupils from Stocksbridge High School take part in the Design A Toy day at Sheffield Hallam University.

WHAT’S going to be the must-have toy for Christmas 2013?

That was the question posed to pupils from four Stocksbridge-area schools who were given a testing task on a visit to Sheffield Hallam University.

The challenge was to design a pre-school toy that was bound to be a winner in the shops during the next festive season.

Almost 100 youngsters from Stocksbridge High School, Deepcar St John’s Primary, St Ann’s RC Primary and Stocksbridge Juniors took part in an enterprise event with a difference.

The day also had a secondary objective of getting Year 6 primary and Year 8 secondary pupils to work together – to help the younger ones make a smoother transition when they move up to ‘big school’ next September.

The children divided themselves up into teams who were asked to design a toy priced between £10 and £30.

After generating a number of ideas, the teams then focused in on a single idea and developed that further.

They were then given a series of vouchers which they could exchange for materials to make a prototype.

The final challenge of the day was to create a poster and leaflet to advertise their toy.

One of the two winning ideas was the ‘Kiddle’, a tablet device for children on which they could read books, draw and talk with friends.

Better still, the design had voice recognition and an in-built dictionary so that children could learn new words as they read.

The other top toy was Barker the Dog, a lovable pooch sure to be a good friend to under-fives.

The day was arranged by the university’s Venture Matrix team, an award winning work-based learning scheme that aims to develop students’ employability and enterprise skills through real life work-related projects that are accredited as part of their degree.

More than 20 students took part in the event and got involved by acting as leaders and advisers to the different teams, passing on their skills and knowledge.

Each team was made up of a mix of pupils from all four schools plus a university student, many of whom had never met before the day.

A Hallam spokesman said: “The event was a success because not only were the students and pupils developing essential enterprise skills such as teamwork, leadership and communication, but the pupils were also strengthening relationships between their local school communities.

“The next event is already in the planning phase.”