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14th July 2010, 1:54pm
Children bring bright ideas to life at Big Toy Factory
Children at the Big Toy Factory Infant school children saw their bright ideas brought to life in their own ‘Big Toy Factory’ at the University of Lincoln.

Youngsters from Manor Leas Infant School in Lincoln fulfilled many a child’s dream by sketching out designs which expert designers and technicians then turned into real toys.

The Big Toy Factory was one of the highlights of the ‘Product Design Circus’ held at the University of Lincoln on 9 July 2010. The event was organised by the University’s Product Design programme, the Design and Technology Forum, CfBT Education Trust and Millhouse Manufacturing Design Ltd.

The event built on work Millhouse Manufacturing Design Ltd has already undertaken with the Manor Leas pupils as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with the University of Lincoln. During the past year, feedback from the pupils has helped the company to develop its range of children’s role play furniture.

Dave Bramston, Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Product Design at the University, said: “The children got to experience the joy of designing something and then seeing their idea made into a real product. They followed ten steps to designing a pull-along-toy, starting the process by identifying potential themes that were of interest to them. Ideas, which included broccoli, dinosaurs, hearts and fighter planes, were written down before the children were asked to do a drawing of their favourite suggestion. The children reviewed the artwork created by the class and put the outline of an idea they liked onto a piece of wood. Professional technicians - the ‘toy makers’ - cut out the forms before the children added paint, glitter, feathers, stickers and any other finish that they thought appropriate. The pull-along-toys had their large red wheels added, a small rope and the ‘Big Toy Factory’ tag to complete the project. All the work was exhibited for everyone to see before the children returned to school.”

John O’Leary, Product Designer at Millhouse Manufacturing Design Ltd, said: “We believe that by involving the end user - that is children, parents and teachers - in the early stages of product development and idea generation, we can produce more innovative, exciting and relevant product ranges that address real needs. Events such as the Big Toy Factory give us a great insight into the ideas and interests of the children and we look forward to being involved in similar events in the future.”

June Austin, Headteacher at Manor Leas Infant School, said: “The children and staff felt very privileged to be working with real life designers from a Lincolnshire company and from within higher education. It has given the children an early experience of the world of work and the processes entailed. It has been a great opportunity for staff to see how the children responded to the challenge. I believe that young children remember and learn from exciting and worthwhile experiences which may influence their choice of career in years to come.”

Alongside the Big Toy Factory, the Product Design Circus also featured talks from international design experts, manufacturers, educationalists and academics. Pupils from Lincolnshire secondary schools learned about the world of product design through presentations and exhibitions.

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