Toy fair teaches lessons of perseverance, ingenuity

Toy fair teaches lessons of perseverance, ingenuity
Max Hadley and Kayden Bogart show off their remote control cars equipped with GoPro cameras. at the annual Toy Fair at Ada Harris Elementary School in Encinitas. Every sixth grader in the school designs a toy, creates it and unveils it to the school. Photo by Aaron Burgin

ENCINITAS — In what is rapidly becoming a rite of passage at Ada Harris Elementary School, about 60 sixth graders filled several classrooms and a long hallway in one of the school’s wings, ready to sell you their toys.

From Velcro footballs (by Sean Bobo) to magnetic skateboard decks (Tyler Carder and Merrick Blehm) to something called the “Darude Sandstorm” (more about that later), the pupils participated in the third installment of the school’s Toy Fair, which doubles as the end of a two-month long project for the school’s oldest students.

The objective is the same as it was last year: each 6th grader, either by themselves or in a group, had three months to design a toy, develop a prototype and create the marketing materials to make the case that their toy would be a hot seller this holiday season, said Matthew Jewell, a 6th grade teacher at the Cardiff campus.

And this year, the students received special guidance and words of wisdom from a local toy maker who has created one of the most popular toys on the market.

Brian Green, the entrepreneur who invented the Cardiff Skate, a bootless, size-adjustable skate, spoke to the school at an hour-long assembly just before the exhibition. His message was simple: never give up.

“It’s easy to give up,” said Green, who worked on the prototype for eight years before he succeeded in finding financial backers. “You can spend a year getting your toy to testing phase before being told it’s a no go, and you could either say that you’ve wasted a year, or you could say, ‘I’m one year closer.’

“For the kids, we told them that they have to keep a positive attitude and be persistent, don’t ever give up,” Green said. “If you listen to the naysayers, then why do you do anything in the first place?”

The words resonated with the children and their teachers, the latter who found Green’s words validation of the admonition they had given their pupils throughout the project.

“When I heard him speak, I thought to myself, ‘I can’t remember how many times I’ve said this to the kids,’” Jewell said. “It was reassuring that even an inventor has to tell himself these same things.”

For the children — including the student who was responsible for Green’s appearance — the words meant the world to them.

Max Hadley, who along with partner Kayden Bogart created a series of amphibious remote control vehicles rigged with a GoPro camera to film underwater, met Green when he and his mother were shopping at a local craft store as part of last-minute preparations for the project.

Green struck a conversation with the fledgling toy maker and before long, Max’s mother Valerie asked Green if he could attend the Toy Fair.

“I learned a lot from Mr. Green and from the project,” Max said. “I learned that a lot goes into making a toy, it’s not just ‘you think of an idea and it ends up in Target.’ It takes money and time.”

Alexa Davis, who along with her partner Liliana Ramos, created the aforementioned “Darude Sandstorm,” a series of bottles filled with lava-like glitter, said she also learned from Green’s account of perseverance.

She and Liliana wanted to create a glitter-sand blower that would fill a room with shimmering sparkles. Then they tried out the prototype.

“That did not go well,” Alexa said. “It didn’t work. This was last minute that we came up with this. But we didn’t give up and we learned that sometimes you have to persevere and have to make mistakes.”

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