Celebrity Invention: Christie Brinkley's Educational Toy

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for patentsrichfamous_280(2).jpgSome celebrities aren't just pretty faces. A few of them are also touched with that Yankee prowess for tinkering and invention. In this weekly series, we introduce you to the Patents of the Rich and Famous. And maybe you learn a little bit about how patent literature works along the way.

Inventor: Christie Brinkley

Known For: She graced the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue three consecutive years. She had a record 20-year contract with CoverGirl cosmetics. She has appeared on over 500 other magazine covers. She appeared on an episode of Mad About You, which attracted CBS its most viewers since the Cosby Show series finale. She's rated number three on AskMen.com's Top 10 Super Models of All Time. She's 54 and still very attractive.

She can get by just on her good looks, but she doesn't. She's also crafty. She won an award for an album cover she designed for her ex-husband, Billy Joel. And, she holds a U.S. patent.

Invented Apparatus: "Educational toy"

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It's a "toy" for learning the letters of the alphabet.

The present invention is directed to educational toys and more particularly to such a toy in the form of a multipiece kit for teaching construction and recognition of predetermined shapes. Although a kit according to the invention may be utilized for teaching recognition and/or construction of almost any series of shapes, it is most advantageously directed toward teaching of letters of the alphabet, and/or numbers for example.

The game includes different shaped magnetic pieces in a variety of different colors, a magnetic board, and cards with illustrations of letters of the alphabet. Using the cards, as well as a "dot code," which indicates how pieces fit together, children use the pieces to assemble letters, thus learning the alphabet.

Rationale Behind Invention: Enforcing the memorization of 26 letters can overwhelm young children. Brinkley's invention only involves seven distinct parts -- instead of all 26 -- which she believes helps young children cope and learn better:

In a particularly advantageous form of the invention intended for teaching recognition and construction of letters of the alphabet a series of only fourteen elemental components, constituting seven distinctly different sizes and/or shapes of parts, are capable of being arranged and organized to form each of the twenty-six letters of the alphabet. By thus limiting the number of elemental components, a child of pre-school age is better able to cope with the management, location and arranging of the parts.

With less parts, there's less possibility for confusion.

Off-Label Uses: Small parts plus small children can only lead to one thing: disasters up the nose.

Future Directions: With a name like "educational toy," children will never want to play this game. Put it on the iPad: You still might be able to trick your kid into learning if you integrate it into an app.

Peruse more celebrity inventions.

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Rebecca Greenfield is a former staff writer at The Wire.

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