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Getting inspiration from toys

A toy is anything that succeeds in attracting and holding a child’s interest, stimulating curiosity, encouraging creativity and inspiring imagination. Toys can teach us how to create better experiences for young people. We have so much to learn from toys!

Toys also remind adults how to play. This is important! As we grow older, we become more boring to young audiences. We become obsessed with information. We forget that real science is also about exploring and experimenting. Children are the world’s greatest experts at exploring and experimenting. When we learn to communicate more playfully, we begin to engage with young people more effectively.

Come along and play. Explore tables covered with toys. Chat with our presenters.

There will be age-old, traditional wooden toys, toys you can make yourself and toys designed by children. Some of the toys have been used in science centre outreach activities and others have inspired a professional designer to create better interactive exhibits. Bring your favourite teddy bear or other soft-toy animal and contribute to a cuddly species classification!

This will be an informal, fully hands-on session taking place in the Business Bistro. It will continue into the coffee break so there will be extra time to come and play with us afterwards.


Ian Russell
Ian Russell Interactives
High Peak, Derbyshire
United Kingdom

Session speakers

Ian Russell
Ian Russell Interactives
High Peak, Derbyshire
United Kingdom
Ian Russell will demonstrate many entertaining examples from his personal collection of simple, science-related, curiosity-stimulating toys, old and modern, including his ‘spinning-top circus’ http://youtu.be/LDXAhwhsZ9k and many other favourites.
Outreach Instructor
Teknikens Hus - Northwest Invention Center
United States
Ed Sobey will invite people to play and make their own toys.
Head of Exhibition Section of the Science Museum, Thailand
Khlong Luang
Peeranut will show the lasting appeal of traditional hand-made toys from Thailand, made from readily available materials like wood, bamboo and string.
Managing director
Erik will invite people to experience how toys, some simple and some remarkably sophisticated, can easily be made using his 'Strawbees' construction system based on drinking straws.
Head of Science/Culture Dpt
Thierry will display some of the ‘Teddy bears’ (soft toys) he uses to teach about classification. Do not hesitate to bring YOUR own teddy bear specimen !!!