The Discovery Cube

This is the Discovery Cube

(Click picture for full size)

The Discovery Cube is a toy designed with very young children in mind (ages 0-3). The Cube is made of rubber so that there are no sharp corners and no small parts for the child to swallow. Each of the six sides has something different for the child to explore:

  1. Side 1 is a shiny mirror surface. The child's sense of sight and touch will be used as they come up with different uses for the smooth, reflective surface.
  2. Side 2 is a fuzzy, plush heart. This side appeals to the child's sense of touch.
  3. Side 3 has a set of bells and horns as well as a scratchy sliding surface. Each of the three bell buttons has a different surface (rough, smooth, soft), color (red, yellow, blue), and sound (high, medium, low). Each of the three horns have a similar system corresponding to the pitch of the horn. The sliding surface makes a scratching sound when moved. The child uses their sense of sight, touch and hearing to explore this side.
  4. Side 4 has a spiral that is driven by a small crank on the bottom right hand side as well as several visible gears. The child turns the crank and watches the gears move the giant spiral in the middle. Since the child can see the gears they get exposed to this fundamental mechanism early on.
  5. Side 5 has eight buttons arranged in a square around a knob. The knob, when turned, makes a clicking sound, appealing to the child's sense of hearing. The four corner buttons are red and make a clicking sound when pressed down. The four remaining buttons are green and also make a clicking sound when pushed down. The buttons are situated such that when four buttons of the same color are pressed down the other four buttons pop up. The pressed buttons will remain in the down position until the child presses the other four buttons. This will hopefully encourage color and pattern recognition.
  6. Side 6 is a mixture of oil and dyed water. When held upright the oil sits in the top chamber while the water is in the bottom (since oil floats on water). When the child turns the cube around the water and oil will slowly switch places. The pinwheels and pipes are present because the oil and water will "switch places" and turn the wheels in the process. The child will get an early exposure to buoyancy and density of different liquids.

There are many principles that this toy is based on, mostly appealing to the sense of sight, touch and hearing. The cost for the parts required for this toy should be relatively low, however the cost of actually constructing the toy might be high. There are many different parts in this toy and putting them together in a cube shape could be difficult. Durability and safety were the two most important factors considered when designing this toy. The Cube should be durable enough to withstand being thrown and dropped on a regular basis (especially with the rubber coating) and since there are no small (or toxic) parts in this toy choking is not a problem. The mirror is not a glass mirror but a reflective film that is used in many children's toys today.

Sparky | Paddle Boat
Kellen Chow
Carnegie Mellon University
January 25, 2010