Skip to Content
MIT News magazine

IHTFP: I Help Tykes Floss Properly?

A design-class challenge
November 14, 2006

Ask mechanical-engineering doctoral student Barry Kudrowitz why his Toy Product Design class spent last spring designing dental gizmos, and he will tell you, “I went to the dentist.” His hygienist, Wendy Westford, thought up this year’s theme for his public-service design class at the Edgerton Center: toys to encourage kids to brush and floss.

FlossZilla dispenses floss and toothpaste. (Credit: Donna Coveney/MIT)

Guided by Westford and toy makers from Hasbro, students sketched ideas, built mock-ups, and finally created working prototypes. For some, it was a first experience with the creative thought, shop skills, and computer modeling programs used to make toys.

The class “definitely got me into product design,” says mechanical-engineering major Karlen Ruleman ‘09. Her group designed Flava-Rama, a device that lets children mix their own toothpaste flavors. Another group created FlossZilla, a dinosaur that squirts toothpaste from its head and dispenses floss from its tail. Dental products hang upside-down in a magnetic box called the Batcave. R2Dtooth hands users a light-saber toothbrush, and Harry Potter’s Magical Toothbrush levitates in its holder.

A second-grade class at the Fletcher Maynard Academy in Cambridge reviewed the prototypes and “liked everything,” ­Kudrowitz reports.

Keep Reading

Most Popular

A Roomba recorded a woman on the toilet. How did screenshots end up on Facebook?

Robot vacuum companies say your images are safe, but a sprawling global supply chain for data from our devices creates risk.

A startup says it’s begun releasing particles into the atmosphere, in an effort to tweak the climate

Make Sunsets is already attempting to earn revenue for geoengineering, a move likely to provoke widespread criticism.

10 Breakthrough Technologies 2023

Every year, we pick the 10 technologies that matter the most right now. We look for advances that will have a big impact on our lives and break down why they matter.

These exclusive satellite images show that Saudi Arabia’s sci-fi megacity is well underway

Weirdly, any recent work on The Line doesn’t show up on Google Maps. But we got the images anyway.

Stay connected

Illustration by Rose Wong

Get the latest updates from
MIT Technology Review

Discover special offers, top stories, upcoming events, and more.

Thank you for submitting your email!

Explore more newsletters

It looks like something went wrong.

We’re having trouble saving your preferences. Try refreshing this page and updating them one more time. If you continue to get this message, reach out to us at customer-service@technologyreview.com with a list of newsletters you’d like to receive.