From The Labs

Toys and science connected on new free STEM initiative

Connecting toys with science is one of the best ways to teach STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education curriculum. And that is what a collaboration between Baylor College of Medicine and Hess Corp. has achieved and offers to schools nationwide.

Students at Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan engaged in a STEM hands-on activity with Hess Tuck and Dragster

It all started when Hess Corp. donated about 4,000 of its 2016 Hess Toy Truck and Dragster to Baylor College of Medicine to share with affiliated hospitals and partnered Houston Independent School District schools.

Dr. Paul Klotman
Dr. Paul Klotman

“Working with the Hess Corp. to distribute its toy trucks to students, patients and veterans served by Baylor College of Medicine was a great opportunity to extend our community outreach with a new partner,” said Dr. Paul Klotman, president, CEO and executive dean of Baylor. “We applaud the commitment of the Hess Corp. to kids young and old in the greater Houston community.”

A learning opportunity

Barbara Tharp, M.S.
Barbara Tharp, M.S.

The gift of giving did not end when the children received the toys. Barbara Tharp, associate director and curriculum developer at the Center for Educational Outreach at Baylor thought that the Hess truck and dragster also was an opportunity to engage young students in learning important STEM skills.

Gregory Vogt, Ed.D.

“The task of writing a guide fell to me,” said Gregory Vogt, Ed.D., curriculum developer at the Center. “The guide includes background information, materials list, procedures and wrap-up ideas with questions, student pages and extensions. It was a team effort. I received much assistance from members of our office with reviews, editing and graphics. The Hess Toy Truck group also provided great feedback on the guide. The graphics team in our office, led by Martha Young, creative director of print and web publications, produced the guide.”


Martha Young, B.F.A.
Martha Young, B.F.A.

The teacher guide uses the best-selling toy as a learning tool, enabling educators to introduce STEM concepts through engaging play. The lessons teach key concepts of friction, velocity, sound generation, energy transfer, and measurements of speed, distance, mass and weight.

“The project has been lots of fun,” Vogt said. “My office colleagues have been very supportive, although there was frequent rolling of the eyes as the Hess truck and dragster I tested frequently shot past their doors.”

The Hess guide is just one of many projects the Center for Educational Outreach has produced over the years. You can find many educational products on the Center’s website.

A free STEM initiative supporting schools nationwide

Hess and Baylor made 500 Hess Toy Truck STEM kits that were available for free. Each kit includes a teacher’s manual with student activity sheets and 10 2016 Hess Toy Truck and Dragsters. Recommended grades are fourth through sixth but the curriculum can be adjusted for both older and younger grades.


The teacher’s manual is available to download for free here for families who already own the 2016 Hess Toy Truck and Dragster to learn STEM lessons at home.

Dr. Nancy Moreno
Dr. Nancy Moreno

“The Center for Educational Outreach is a true partner to our Houston communities by providing resources for science and health education. STEM activities are fun and educational, and we are excited to partner with Hess on this curriculum and extend science resources to the entire country,” said Dr. Nancy Moreno, associate provost of faculty development and institutional research at Baylor.

“Hess partners with community groups and stakeholders annually to develop programs that make a measureable and sustainable difference. Hess also donates thousands of toy trucks each year to children and communities in need. This new STEM partnership with Baylor College of Medicine is a natural extension of our Hess Toy Truck donation program and fits with Hess’ desire to equip the future with an army of problem solvers that can overcome complex challenges,” said Justin Mayer, Hess Toy Truck general manager.

Baylor College of Medicine Academy at Ryan

Julia Bernstein

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