Toy Design

Changing the World – One Toy at a Time:

Drawing on my unique combination of industrial design, graphic art, and medical training, I aim to create educational resources that facilitate knowledge transfer and communication between physician and child. Since children learn through play, I was inspired to dedicate my Master of Industrial Design Thesis Work to the creation of education toys. Under the supervision of Robert Lederer, an experienced designer and associate professor at the University of Alberta, I am creating a series of educational toys that will teach children about cardiac health. These educational toys will teach basic cardiac anatomy, introduce medical terminology, discuss the importance of cardiac health and encourage a cardiac healthy lifestyle. By introducing the importance of cardiac health at an early age, the potential beneficial long term outcome is a decrease in the incidence of cardiac disease among the adult population.

The Play, Learn, Teach! Project was a recipient of the Alberta Medical Association Emerging Leader in Health Promotion Grant. One of  my first creative medical educational resources, aka toy design, was the 2D Cardiac Anatomy Paper Model. This paper toy was designed to teach elementary children basic cardiac anatomy. The paper model can be downloaded as a pdf in the link below, printed out on 8.5×11 paper, folded in half along the dotted line, glued together, cut out and voila – a 2D model of the heart that opens like a locket to expose the inner chambers and valves.

Downloadable PDF Paper Heart Model: heart anatomy 2D locket print out – Michiko Maruyama



In the summer of 2012, I put my background in toy design to use working for the Office of Pediatric Surgical Education and Innovation (OPSEI) at the BC Children’s Hospital. As one of the Team Leader of the TEACH project, I helped organize a research project which involved designing toys that doctors can use to teach children about their medical condition.

We created a range of toys including coloring books, paper cut-out dolls, plastic models and hand puppets. My favorite toy being the “Ostomy Doll”, a cute and cuddly teddy bear designed to teach children with gastrostomies how to take proper care of their ostomy. The project also involved conducting research through surveys to evaluate each toy for their effectiveness as a communication tool, educational resource and entertainment value.

This project was presented and well received at the Canadian Conference on Medical Education (CCME) in Quebec City in 2013.

OPSEI Student Teach Team: Michiko Maruyama, Evan Shao, Michael Yong and Jaspreet Lidder




Medical Students as Patient Educators

BY: Michiko Maruyama, Evan Shao, Michael Yong and Jaspreet Lidder

… The Office of Pediatric Surgical Education and Innovation (OPSEI) at the BC Children’s Hospital is a program that connects medical students with mentors to work on various summer projects, ranging anywhere from clinical research like patient chart reviews to laboratory work.

Under the fitting name, TEACH, this summer’s project focused on the education of patients and families within the Department of Pediatric Surgery at Children’s hospital. One of these procedures is the creation of an ostomy, where the intestine is divided and one end is brought through an opening in the abdominal wall up to the skin where the intestinal contents drain into a bag. To help children with ostomies remember which types of foods may cause intestinal blockage, Maruyama was involved with creating “mini-books” that patients can cut out and fold to read.

To read more, click here.




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