HJHS students advance to TOY challenge nationals

By Staff
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
Three six graders and six seventh graders at Hartselle Junior High School have earned a trip to California later this month to compete in the TOY challenge 2007 Nationals at the San Diego Air and Space Museum.
Robyn Gross, Nikki Harris and Caitlin Beard are a team representing the sixth grade class. They invented “Budget Break,” a board game that is designed to teach children how to use their money wisely and prevent the ill consequences of overspending.
Representing the seventh grade are Samuel Segars, Issac Robinson, Megan Smith, Michael Brannon, Hallie Miller and Jessica O’Neill. They developed a toy that encourages children to get out and play. It is designed to retrieve and return a ball to the pitcher after it has been thrown.
“(The program) encourages all of us to work harder and communicate better as members of the same team. We’ve found that each one of us has different ideas and when we share them and make them a part of our project we can achieve a lot more,” Robinson said.
A third team made up of eight graders also finished high in preliminary statewide competition and was invited to make the trip but declined because of schedule conflicts. Members of the team were Audrey Smith, Jacquie Shadden, Noah Battles and Daniel Cheatham.
In the preliminary round of competition, the teams, comprised of at least 50 percent girls, submitted written descriptions and visual presentations of their original toy or game concepts based on themed categories including Games for the Family, Get Out and Play and Toys that Teach. The submissions were judged on originality, creativity, feasibility design process description, team participation and clarity of communication. Of the 350 entries submitted 150 were invited to advance to TOYchallenge Nationals to be held in Balboa Park in San Diego April 21-22. From these one grand prize package will be awarded, and one team will also be named the category prize winner in each theme category.
The students will be accompanied to the nationals by Elisa Harris, a gifted program specialist who works at Barkley Bridge Elementary School.
TOY challenge is a product of the Sally Ride Science Foundation. It is designed to engage middle school-age students, especially girls, in science and engineering and to inspire them to pursue careers in those fields. Northrop Grumman is the program’s sponsor.

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