Did you ever want to open an Etch A Sketch® to see how it works? Wonder what makes Elmo® dance? Want to see what triggers the buzzer in Operation®? Explore the inside world of toys and the pulleys, cams, gears, circuits, and linkages that make them work.

Toys: The Inside Story is located in the Middlesex Savings Bank Community Gallery through May 10, 2020.

In this Exhibit

a boy uses a giant Etch A Sketch
Pattern Tracer

Test out your manual dexterity by following different patterns on this gigantic Etch A Sketch.

a girl uses an Etch A Sketch mounted on a wall display
The Magic Behind the Silver Screen

How does Etch A Sketch work? We've taken it apart to reveal its inner workings. See how pulleys and wires guide the drawing tip.

a boy interacts with a tabletop pulley exhibit
Big Pulley, Little Pulley

Create crazy optical illusions! Move and connect pulleys for endless combinations. Discover the relationship between pulley size and speed!

a boy stands in front of a large 3-panel display
Pulley Wall

What are pulleys? How do they respond to your actions? Explore pulley power! 

a boy plays with a dissembled Operation game attached to a wall display
Circuit Wall: Operation

Stay "current" with circuits, switches, and circuit boards. Keep a cicuit open as you move a ring along an angled rod--and learn why it takes a steady hand to win at Operation!

a mother and daughter operation a giant circuit board display
Circuit Challenge

This giant circuit board is alive with fans, lights, and sounds. Make all circuits active at once!

a mother and son interact with a wall of cams
Cam Wall

Rotate cams to make Frog jump, Alligator bite, and Firefly flash! Look inside a Dr. Duck(R) toy and see how a cam helps him waddle along. 

a boy interacts with a linkages display wall
Linkages Wall

Try linkages connecting moving toy parts. Operate a Hungry Hippo(R) and turn the crank on Pudgey the Piglet(R)! Look inside Pudgey and watch his motion. See how a motor can turn a simple action into a complex one.

a father and son interact with a wall display of gears
Gears Wall

Gears, or wheels with teeth, are in machines and toys with moving parts. If two gears mesh, turn one and the other turns!

a parent and staff member play with a gears table with a young child
Gears at Play

Movable gears on a big table can set objects in motion. Which size of the gears can spin the carousel and ballerinas faster and faster? Gear up and go!

a boy peers through a translucent box housing several large colorful gears
Big Gear, Little Gear

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

a museum display with several versions of Dancing Elmo with exterior coverings removed to see inside
What's Inside Dancing Elmo?

Inside Elmo's red fur and plastic skin are the motor, cam, circuit board, and switches that make him dance.

two girls stand in front of a display with a Mr. Machine toy
What's Inside the Marching Machine?

Look through Mr. Machine(R), a classic, clear plastic 60s toy. A video shows linkages and cams that make him march. See the original 1960 Mr. Machine TV ad!

two children sit at a table cranking jack-in-the-boxes
What's Inside Jack-in-the-Box?

Crank a jack-in-the-ox that has clear sides. A second jack has a camera inside! As you turn the crank, see how the worm gear and cam mechanism let him jump.