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The Marvelous Thing That Came From a Spring

Lower Age: 4
Upper Age: 8
Price: $17.99
Year Added: 2016
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Follow along as Richard James, a former engineer for the United States Navy, accidentally invents the popular Slinky toy in the children’s book The Marvelous Thing that Came from a Spring: The Accidental Invention of the Toy That Swept the Nation. The story begins by introducing Richard James as he goes through the engineering design process while trying to invent a particular device for the Navy during WWII. Instead of solving the Navy’s problem, however, he actually develops the spring that will eventually become one of the nation’s biggest toy crazes. Alongside colorful, action-filled illustrations, the story develops the important themes of never giving up and being grateful for the support of others. Kids will begin developing an understanding of how needs become translated into designs, which often leads to new findings – sometimes even accidental ones! Children will become inspired to participate in the process of designing, testing, producing, and implementing marketing strategies – all standard practices of the engineering process. They will also realize the importance of perseverance and understand how important it is to work collaboratively.


Engineering thinking and design practices the gift encourages children to do or learn about:

Learn about the problem, make observations, generate ideas, create the prototype or process, communicate the solution, apply mathematics, work in a team

Engineering text or context explicitly provided by the gift: A problem, a user

Additional practices and skills needed by engineers that were addressed by the gift: Creative thinking, working as a team, design, problem solving, entrepreneurship


Overall Ratings:

  • Children Reviews
    • Rating: NA
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  • Parents Reviews
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  • Engineering & STEM Experts Reviews
    • Rating: 4.33 out of 5.0
    • Feedback:
      • “The story of an engineering solving a problem and finally becoming an entrepreneur is very encouraging to kids who have engineering dreams. The book shows them how to find a problem, solve a problem, and become successful as an engineer.”