Office of the Vice President for Global Communications

Friday, May 7, 2010

Animated drawing pad wins U-M toy competition

An electronic doodle pad that animates your drawings is the winner of a toy design competition organized by the College of Engineering’s Center for Entrepreneurship.

The Scribble grew out of a December focus group in which student designers asked third-graders what they wanted from Santa Claus.

U-M students Penn Greene, Ryan Thurmer, Chris Parker and Alexis Stepanek assemble the final Scribble prototype. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Thurmer)

“Many wanted interactive touch screen devices such as iPods or Nintendo DS’s,” says Ryan Thurmer, an undergraduate student in the School of Art & Design who was part of the winning team. “Using this information, we reflected on vivid memories of creating flip books as children. We knew we wanted to re-create those experiences and memories, but in a more environmentally friendly and technological way, without the use of paper.”

The team built a functional prototype, which they demonstrate in this video: They received a $2,500 prize.

The competition was designed to provide an interdisciplinary effort for students to create and design new toys. The entries were evaluated by a panel of U-M faculty, staff, and outside experts in the toy development and manufacturing field. They chose winners based on the entry’s creativity, marketability, proven function, cost and fun factor.

Other members of the first-place team are Chris Parker, Alexis Stepanek and Penn Green, all Art & Design undergraduate students.

Second place and $1,000 went to the Launch Pad, a toy car with a flipper that overturns it when it’s hit. Third place was shared by Squash Wash, a vegetable washing tool for kids; Imagifort, a customizable fort-building kit; and Eng, an online math learning and space game. Each third place team received $500.

Judges were impressed by the variety of entries they received.

“When I saw that our student presenters were coming to us from such a wide array of academic units, including art and design, engineering and education, I recognized that this competition had catalyzed a real potential for cross-disciplinary connection,” says Nick Tobier, an associate professor in the School of Art & Design who was among the contest judges.

Joshua Pokempner, founder of Giddy Up! toy company and U-M alumnus, sponsored the competition along with the Center for Entrepreneurship.