The Science of Toys

Course Access: Lifetime
Course Overview

STEMLinc Video Conferencing:  Let Professor Noah Lott engage your students in exploring the forces and motions behind two timeless children’s toys. Students will construct their own toys, and as an added bonus, get to keep them.  Students will engage in two design challenges building their toys from recycled materials. (Image: Bettmann/Corbis)

Year Level: 3 – 4

Duration: 1.5 hours

STEM in a box:

Students will build two toys in this program, and all the materials required are sent out in a STEM in a Box kit.  Schools will need to provide scissors, and measuring tapes and wind sources such as a fan or hair dryer would be desirable although not essential.

Background Information:

A common misconception based on everyday experience is that all moving objects eventually come to a halt.  However, Sir Isaac Newton taught us that all moving objects will continue to move, or a still object will stay still, unless a force acts to change the motion.  The force that typically brings moving objects to a halt is friction.  Armed with this basic knowledge, students will construct and operate basic toys, and evaluate the design of their toys, and develop improvements in the performance. 

Prior Knowledge:

No prior knowledge require for this class.

Learning Intentions:

In this program students will:

  • Learn about basic pushing and pulling forces
  • Understand the role of friction in bringing moving objects to a halt
  • Explore design variations and make suggestions on improvements.


In this video program students will:

  • Construct and test a pinwheel and explore its design variations
  • Construct and test a yo-yo and explore its design variations

Victorian Curriculum:

Science – Physical sciences

  • Heat can be produced in many ways and can move from one object to another; a change in the temperature of an object is related to the gain or loss of heat by the object (VCSSU063)
  • Forces can be exerted by one object on another through direct contact or from a distance (VCSSU064)

Science – Communicating

  • Represent and communicate observations, ideas and findings to show patterns and relationships using formal and informal scientific language (VCSIS072)

Technologies – Engineering principles and systems

  • Investigate how forces and the properties of materials affect the behaviour of a designed solution (VCDSTC024)

Technologies – Created design solutions

  • Evaluate design ideas, processes and solutions based on criteria for success developed with guidance and including care for the environment and communities (VCDSCD031)

IMPORTANT:  Cancellation Policy

  1. When you book you will receive an automated message from Eventbrite.  Save this carefully please.
  2. Any cancellations need to be received in time for STEMLinc to re-sell your tickets to other teachers.
  3. Please use the Eventbrite confirmation email to facilitate any cancellation of your booking.  That will automatically release your ticket for re-sale on our system.
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