USPTO Hosts Sally Ride TOY Challenge

Washington, D.C. – The Commerce Department’s United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will host the 2008 Sally Ride Science TOYchallenge East Coast National Showcase at the USPTO campus on Saturday, May 17. The TOYchallenge is a national toy design competition for 5th – 8th graders designed to introduce girls and boys to engineering. It shows them that engineering is collaborative, creative and all around them.

“The USPTO is pleased to be a part of the Sally Ride Science TOYchallenge, as we share a common mission of promoting innovation to young people,” said Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property Jon Dudas. “I hope the experience of inventing will inspire the students to continue to develop 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,” said Sally Ride, founder of Sally Ride Science. “Through our partnership with the USPTO, students from across the country can participate in creative competition that reflects the engineering process.”

The top teams from preliminary rounds are invited to develop working prototypes of their toy or game and bring them to the Nationals for judging. One hundred eleven teams and roughly 450 students are expected for national judging. Teams of between three and six members-half of whom must be girls-use the design process to brainstorm and develop the concept for a toy or game to enter in the challenge. Their original toys or games are based on themed categories including Games for the Family, Get Out and Play, and Toys that Teach. The entries are judged on originality, creativity, feasibility, design process description, team participation and clarity of communication. Northrop Grumman Foundation is the presenting sponsor. Southwest Airlines is the official airline for TOYchallenge.

The TOYchallenge is among USPTO’s ongoing educational efforts to reach out to the next generation of innovators. For example, the USPTO has teamed with the Ad Council for a three-year PSA campaign designed to inspire young people, specifically ages 8-11, to be creative and invent. In addition to television, radio and outdoor ads, the campaign includes a Web site,, where kids can engage in games and activities and use their creativity, as well as learn about the process of protecting their intellectual property. The radio and TV commercials are now playing throughout the country with the message, “Anything’s possible. Keep thinking.” In addition, the USPTO recently released a new curriculum called i-©®eaTM that inspires students to be creative and teaches them about the value of patents, trademarks, and copyrights, as well as the importance of respecting other’s intellectual property.

USPTO also supports:

  • The National Inventors Hall of Fame’s educational programs for youth (grades one-six) including Camp Invention and Club Invention; and
  • FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology), founded by inventor Dean Kamen to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people.

Sally Ride Science is an innovative science content company dedicated to fueling girls’ and boys’ interests in science, math and technology. Dr. Sally Ride, best known as America’s first woman in space, founded the company in 2001 to create quality programs and products that educate, entertain, engage and inspire. Programs include Sally Ride Science Festivals, TOYchallenge, Educator Institutes, summer camps, and after-school programs. Publications include award-winning science books, science career books, and innovative classroom sets to supplement science instruction. Sally Ride Science publications and programs bring science to life and show kids that science is creative, collaborative, fascinating and fun. For more information go to or call 1-800-561-5161.


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