ToyLab: Introduction to Design Through Play

Eligibility Requirements

Rising ninth through 12th graders. To participate in the residential experience, students must be at least 15 years old.


Mies Campus


June 17–28 from 10 a.m.–4 p.m.

  • Note: There will be no programming scheduled on Juneteenth, which falls on Wednesday, June 19, 2024.


Residential: $2,350; a $100 deposit is due at the time of registration

Commuter: $1,300; a $100 deposit is due at the time of registration


Program Description

This course introduces students to the world of engineering by guiding them through the design, creation, and prototyping of a small toy. The course covers the skills of woodworking, prototyping, 3D printing, laser cutting, and electronics prototyping with Arduino. This course curriculum is designed to be engaging and hands-on, allowing students to gain practical experience in a maker-shop environment, while also developing essential creative and problem-solving skills. The team-focused challenge at the end provides an opportunity for integration and application of the various skills learned throughout the course.

Example Activities

  • Woodworking and Prototyping: Students could use woodworking skills to create the body of the toy. They can start with sketching, then make cardboard prototypes to validate their design, before moving onto wood.
  • 3D Printing: Students can design and 3D print smaller components of the toy, like wheels, connectors, gears or even design specific accessories for their toy.
  • Laser Cutting: Students can utilize this for making precise parts, decorative elements, or complex shapes that are difficult to achieve with traditional woodworking tools.
  • Arduino Electronics: This would be the heart of the project. Students can program an Arduino board to control the toy. It can have sensors to react to light, sound, or touch. For instance, the toy could change its behavior when pulled (using a tension sensor), or when it encounters an obstacle (using an infrared or ultrasonic sensor).
  • Coding and Programming: The Arduino board would require programming for the toy to interact with its environment. This could introduce or reinforce programming concepts such as conditionals, loops, and variables.


Illinois Tech Professor of Practice Bo Rodda


Questions about the application process? Email them to