Paddle Boat

This is the Paddle Boat.

(Click picture for full size)

The Paddle Boat is a wind-up water toy designed with children above the age of three in mind. The Paddle Boat is a great bath-time or pool toy and teaches children all the basics of buoyancy and powered movement. The child winds up the boat with the knob on the side of the boat. The gears inside turn and drives a paddle wheel, which in turn pushes the boat forward. The body of the boat is made of clear plastic so that the children can observe the inner workings of the toy. There is also a small three-way switch on the top of the boat in the shape of an arrow. The arrow indicates which way the boat will go. When the arrow is pointing straight ahead the boat will go straight. When the arrow is pointed either left or right the paddle wheel is adjusted such that the boat progresses in the indicated direction (when turning the boat makes a large circle). The boat has spaces on the top that can hold "cargo." The toy uses the principle of stored mechanical energy in wind-up springs as well as the idea of buoyancy and basic movement (i.e. when the paddlewheel is angled it which direction will it go?).

The toy is made entirely of plastic so the toy can be easily mass-produced and construction costs will be relatively low. The boat itself will be pretty sturdy, however the part that is most likely to break will be the paddlewheel. The spaces between paddles means that the wheel itself can snap into small pieces, so there is a choking hazard for small children. The target age group is 3+ so hopefully the children using it will know not to stick the parts in their mouths.

The Discovery Cube | Sparky

Kellen Chow
Carnegie Mellon University
January 25, 2010