Toys: The Inside Story



Exhibit Descriptions

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Toys: The Inside Story includes 12 different hands-on stations illustrating the simple mechanisms commonly found in toys, and lets visitors create their own toy-like combinations of gears, pulleys, linkages, cams, and circuits.

"What's Inside Jack-in-the-Box?" gives visitors a close-up view of the cam combination that frees our hero "Jack," while elsewhere we unmask the amazing collection of switches, cams, and motors that make Elmo® dance and Mr. Machine® run.


Pulley Wall

Explore pulley power at this exhibit cluster. Find out what a pulley is and how it behaves.

The Magic Behind the Silver Screen

Ever wonder how an Etch A Sketch® works? We've taken the toy apart to reveal its inner workings. See how pulleys and wires guide the drawing tip.

Pattern Tracer

Test out your manual dexterity by tracing patterns on this gigantic Etch A Sketch®.

Big Pulley, Little Pulley

Create crazy optical illusions by connecting pulleys. Movable pulleys allow endless combinations to encourage discoveries about the relationship between pulley size and speed.


Circuit Wall

These exhibits keep you "current" with the basics of circuits, switches and circuit boards. Challenge yourself to keep a circuit open as you move a ring along an angled rod. Now you know why it takes a steady hand to win at Operation®!

Circuit Challenge

This giant circuit board is alive with fans, lights, and funny sounds. Can you make all of the circuits active at once?


Cam Wall

Cam you turn it? In this exhibit, rotating cams make a frog jump, an alligator bite, or a firefly flash. Look inside a Dr. Duck® toy to see how a cam lets him walk the walk.


Linkages Wall

Linkages connect moving toy parts. Try some simple mechanisms, then operate a Hungry Hippo® or turn the crank on a large model of the inner workings of Pudgy the Piglet®. Look inside a real Pudgey, and watch a video of Pudgey in motion. See how you or a motor can turn a simple motion into one that's more complex.


Gears Wall

You see gears in machines with moving parts, including lots of popular toys. Gears are wheels with teeth. If two gears mesh and you turn one, the other turns. Gear up and go!

Gears at Play

Movable gears on a big table can set all sorts of objects in motion. Figure out how to use different sized gears to spin the carousel and ballerinas as fast as possible.

Big Gear, Little Gear

Crank it up and see how an industrial-size gear train can change the speed of a rotating shaft.

What's Inside?

What's Inside the Hokey Pokey?

Hokey Pokey Elmo® loses his red fur and plastic skin to reveal the source of his moves. Check out the motor, cams, circuit board, and switches that make Elmo dance.

What's Inside the Marching Machine?

You can see right through Mr. Machine®, a classic '60s toy made of clear plastic. A video highlights some of the linkages and cams that make him move. See the orginal 1960 Mr. Machine® commercial, too!

What's Inside Jack-in-the-Box?

What makes Jack jump? Pick up a real Jack-in-the-Box with clear sides and turn the crank. A second Jack-in-the-Box has a camera inside — as you turn the crank, watch the display to see close-up how the worm gear and cam mechanism turn him loose.