Old Dominion University's Darden College of Education and Professional Studies is proud to announce the successful continuation of its MerMADE STEM Toys4KIDS project, an initiative that has been brightening the holiday season for children since 2015.

This year, the industrious students of the Industrial Technology program have outdone themselves by creating an innovative range of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) toys. These toys, meticulously designed for youths aged 6 to 18, have been crafted as part of the students' mission to make the holidays a little brighter for kids at the Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters (CHKD) in Norfolk.

The 2023 collection features a variety of toys and puzzles, including marshmallow catapults, all made from eco-friendly materials. Three large boxes filled to the brim with a variety of toys were delivered to hospital representatives this week. These toys are the product of the students' hard work in the STEM Education Production Lab located at ODU.

The project, led and continued by Basim Matrood, lecturer of industrial technology, is a culmination of months of work by the students in the Industrial Design and Technology program. Two students joined the expedition to CHKD: industrial technology students Jessie Smith and Madeline Newhouse, both from the Class of 2024, who have played a significant role in this team effort.

Petros Katsioloudis, the project's initial founder and associate dean for faculty affairs and research, emphasizes the project's role in fostering values of philanthropy and diversity. "It's more than just an educational exercise; it's about instilling character and a sense of community in our students — and bringing some fun to children during the holidays," he remarks.

In the spirit of the season, Old Dominion University's MerMADE STEM Toys4KIDS project stands as a shining example of how education and compassion can intertwine to make a significant impact in the community. As these dedicated students continue to push the boundaries of creativity and generosity, they not only brighten the holidays for children at CHKD but also pave the way for a future where STEM education and philanthropy go hand in hand.