making children’s toys for class (mit 2.00b)

the unabridged MIT News interview about my love for the legendary Toy Product Design class, colloquially known as Toy Lab

Why did you decide to take 2.00b?

  • Fun! Toys are, of course, a delight. I hadn’t heard of a class like this before.
  • In the fall, I wasn’t part of any project-based classes. I knew I wanted to make stuff in the spring, so Toy Lab quickly shot to the top of my list of classes I wanted to take.
  • I also wanted to learn how to make products without the stress of business, finance, marketing, and all that jazz: just pure design. I think stripping down product design to its core without distraction makes learning deeper.
  • I heard that it was just a very put-together, well-made class. I wanted to be a part of that experience.

What was your experience like in the class throughout the semester?

  • I looked forward to every class. It was one of my little jolts of fun in the week. What drew me in was the level of effort put in by faculty and staff — you can tell they really care. I saw it in the beautiful lab space built specifically for 2.00b, the comprehensive website, and the trinkets that were given out almost every class. But, beyond these big things, what stood out to me was truly in the small details. Some details include the fun 3D-animated videos that preluded slide decks, plushies of everyone’s team animal being present in every class, and a little jingle that signified the end of every lecture. I’ve also literally never seen better slide decks; they’re carefully crafted in this class. Sounds, animations, and colors galore!
  • I like how we start off solo in which every person builds foundational product design skills. It made being part of a team later in the semester much more enriched. While working solo, all of us made cool projects. We learned woodworking by making pull toys, CAD and electronics by making a Simon-esque game, foam core usage by making a blade box, and blue foam usage by making a pop-up snake toy.
  • The support was definitely there. The class was set up so that if you ever had a concern, there was a person designated to help you with it. Personal problem? Carebear team member of the week. Prototyping supplies running low? Lab instructor. Want to refine your presentation? Communication instructor.
  • There was so much fun and excitement in the class. During one of our first lectures, I remember all we did was play with toys in the hallway. For theme reveal day, on which the Playsentations theme was announced, there was a giant piñata horse that expelled copious amounts of confetti into the air. We were also given gifts in almost every class: lego toys, art kits, candies, and more. You couldn’t help but have a blast.

What team were you on? Please provide a brief description of the toy product you developed.

  • I was on Team Stegosaurus. The toy we made was Magball: like the family-favorite air hockey, but with a magnetic twist! The paddle, puck, and table walls are all magnetized to repel each other, creating a fun bounce without air or electricity. The board is also engraved with magnetic field lines and is filled with compasses to depict the dynamic power of the puck. But that’s not all — each player gets a secret magnet that they can place anywhere underneath the board on their side to repel or attract the puck. It may stop the puck; it may accelerate it; it may even curve it! It is all up to the players to strategize.

What was it like working together on a team on this toy product?

  • Great products are never made alone. I’m grateful to have been assigned to such a dedicated, forthright team. We were quite harmonious, which was lovely, but I most enjoyed lab time when we disagreed. These conversations made our toy ultimately much more thought-out and deliberate. This class taught us a great deal about how to work with a bunch of different ideas from different people and transform all of that into one final deliverable. I’ve found that my conversations in group projects are more productive now. For example, we learned about decision-making methods like Pugh charts and dot-voting which helped our team move past roadblocks.
  • The teams were assigned, so most people barely knew each other beforehand. I liked getting to know new people this way. Especially with toys, people on the team opened up more about their childhoods and what they found fun growing up. Conversations like these wouldn’t happen as openly as they did in Toy Lab, I think. It was also cool to see the mesh of our different skillsets: CADing, drawing, ideating, woodworking, etc.
  • Having a team animal to bond over was great for comradery. As team stegosaurus, we lovingly called ourselves “stegos.” We were also given plushies of our team animals and a Care Bear that would rotate between team members every week.

Tell me about your experience presenting on Killian Court. What did it feel like to present in front of hundreds of people as a first-year student?

  • I felt seen. It was a bit scary at first, but, at the same time, thrilling to present a project that I was proud of to such a large audience. MIT can be an overwhelming place — there’s always so much going on. To help reconcile this feeling, I think the Playsentations helped me feel like I contributed a little something to the school. It may sound silly, but I also felt very “official” being a part of this event. It was all in the details: green screen intro videos, giant balloons with our team symbols, being mic’d up before heading on stage, and everything in between. Also, Killian is quintessentially MIT. It felt surreal to present on such a beloved, grand stage out there.
  • I was also delighted to see that people from many walks of life attended the event: kiddos and parents to friends and professors. It was lovely to see such a vibrant community. And what a fun event! The bouncy house, hot dogs, cozy blankets in the grass, and stunning skyline view really pulled the whole show together.

What major have you declared?

  • 2A and possibly 17 as well, but I think the 17 will become a minor instead.

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Kanokwan Tungkitkancharoen

Kanokwan Tungkitkancharoen

MIT mech-e undergrad, pepper-challenge chaser, and big Spotify geek