Toy hacking

Buinho Education is a sub-branch of Buinho, a fablab located in the South of Portugal ( Besides aiming to contribute to the democratization of access to digital technologies, Buinho has been creating a specialization in the environmental sustainability field of action, since the creation of our region’s first Precious Plastic workshop (

Since then, we have been developing innovative strategies that combine environmental and digital education, some of which have been recognized as good practices by the Erasmus program.



Toy Hacking Erasmus structured course is the result of previous and current activities of Buinho in the teaching of coding, robotics, and electronics using Electric Waste (EWaste), thus also focusing on green and societal competencies development. 

Buinho currently coordinates an Erasmus consortium (PT01-KA121-SCH-000010598) that also aims to bring some of these innovative practices to 12 public schools in the region where we operate. 

We are now sharing through this course a set of best practices that we have been designing and implementing in schools since 2018 when we first designed the first toy hacking and repair workshops in classrooms.

Toy hacking is mainly designed for activities with students from the first and second cycles of students (1st – 7th-year students). It is a fun way to teach electronics, robotics, and even programming. It gives a new life to old toys, bringing new and engaging content that enhances their original function. Toy hacking is very popular with students and teachers all across Europe because it is a simple, costless and engaging activity to have with children that enable educators and teachers to introduce more complex subjects in the field of STEAM.


It can be a fluffy toy, a broken music piano, or an RC car. You will learn how machines work, how they are engineered, and hack into their electronic components to have access to unlimited learning experiences with those old toys.


With this course, you will learn how to how identify electronic components to later operate them in fun and educational school projects, how to use electronic tools, and how to hack the function of traditional electronic objects with the help of microcontrollers that students can program to do other things.  We will play with sound, light, sensors, remote communication, among other features that will capacitate you to fully extend the possibilities of Toy hacking in your classroom. All our courses are made in a fablab/makerspace environment, which means that the participants will be granted free access to other digital prototyping equipment like laser cutters or vinyl cutters, which can be helpful for the customization of the machines – Inside a fablab, the only limit is your imagination! As such, all the tools will be provided, we just ask the participants to bring a laptop as it will be needed for the software training.

Besides the normal training, we would like to highlight the fact that by taking this course you will also have free access to one hour of online courses and tutorials prepared by Buinho and available on our e-learning platform. Finally, the course also includes a cultural program for the participant, providing the opportunity to visit Portuguese landmarks and experience a bit of our Culture.



In Portugal, Buinho has been successfully teaching robotics, coding, and digital fabrication to children and youth from elementary to secondary school years, and we want to share some of our experiences with you. We have vast experience in teaching and capacitating teachers from different school years and with zero experience in these subjects. By working with public schools in Portugal we are also well aware of the budget constraints that in some cases provoke digital exclusion of poorer schools, and so have designed educational content that takes advantage of cheap or free equipment and components. In the case of this particular course, we also aim to raise the awareness of our students to the lack of sustainability of our consumerist society and the need to promote recycling, repairing, and reusing as good practices to a more sustainable future.

Target Groups – Elementary and Middle School teachers

Duration of the course – Five days

Total Cost of the Course – 400€

Note: Each class will have a maximum of 12 participants to provide higher quality standards and more individualized support.


Day 1

10:00 – 12:00

Welcome session and introduction
We will receive the participants in the working space, making a short introduction to Buinho’s experience in the educational field. We will also dedicate some time to getting to know the participants but also their sending schools. You can bring a presentation.

13:00 – 16:00

Introduction to electronics, troubleshoot, and repair

We will start by explaining basic concepts and principles in electricity and electronics, while opening old toys in a safely manner. We will learn how to use multimeters to troubleshoot problems, and a soldering iron to fix them.
We will also promote a practical workshop dedicated to repair and simple hacks regarding overcoming practical problems like substitution of power source. It will be a fun and useful manner to learn electronics and preparing the path for more serious hacking


Day 2

9:00 – 12:00

Introduction to Toy Hacking

After the introduction to electronics, troubleshooting and repairing, we will introduce modification strategies within the toy’s function, appearance and circuitry. Adding buttons, switches, lights, motors, sounds, you will have the opportunity to add new features and interactions to the toy of your preference. During this session not only you will be provided total freedom of
movement, but will have the opportunity to go deeper within the learning of analog electronics and STEAM approach.


13:00 – 15:00

Sound pimp my Toy!

During the afternoon, and after your initial explorations and hacks, we will teach on how to add a bluetooth speaker function to whatever toy you are working with. The purpose of this activity will be to reinforce your soldering skills, better understand the potential of applying multiple and endless hacks to the same toy, and introduce more complex circuitry, even to toys that have none.
By the end of the day you will have an already completely modified toy, that will offer different features and interactions with the user, and also could be transformed with the switch of a button into a full working bluetooth speaker that you can control with your mobile phone (or any BT device you pair it with).

Day 3

10:00 – 18:00

Cultural Day
We are presenting the opportunity for a group visit to Cascais and Cabo da Roca as part of our cultural offering. This will include a visit to the Paula Rego Museum, a visit to an historic Lighthouse, having lunch by the sea, shopping in the beautiful town center of Cascais, and to finish the day, a visit to Cabo da Roca – the most Western point of Europe.
Cascais is world famous for its bay, for being the town of the exiled Kings, or for being known as the Portuguese Côte D’Azur. Many centuries of History has contributed to making this fisherman village, into one of the most desirable tourist destinations in Portugal. We will also have a walk through the Estoril – Cascais seaside promenade, so bring comfortable shoes!

Day 4

9:00 – 12:00

Introduction to Microbit and Makecode – Introduction to Digital Hacking

Micro:bit is possibly the most popular microcontroller in schools today. Its main advantages are ease of use, low price, and powerful capabilities which make it a very complete and attractive solution to introduce robotics in classrooms today. In this morning session we will provide several practical workshops that will introduce to programming for the Micro:bit, and teach you how to control external objects like the toys we would like to hack.
After this lesson you will be able to open again your old electronic toy and digitally control its functions by using the Micro:bit and coding. You will also learn some fun activities to develop with your students in the classroom.

13:00 – 15:00

Final project – Hacking a used toy to take home
Participants will now have the opportunity to finish up their toy using not only the micro:bit and the learning from the morning activities, but also other resources found in our E-Waste library. By applying the knowledge and resources gained throughout the course, and with the mentoring of Buinho, participants will have the opportunity to enjoy total freedom of movements and actions to reach the desired outputs.

Day 5

10:00 – 12:00

Final discussions, e-learning platform, and amazing brunch in the Makerspace!

For the last day we will discuss more deeply how to Toy Hacking into your classroom. Its the moment to also discuss methodology and working principles. Besides wrapping up the learning of the week, we will present and share additional material for you to use in your classroom. And finally we will also present and grant access to all our students of our e-learning
platform where you will find free online content that our team prepared specially for each course we provide.
After presenting these and other useful contents for your future activities in the classroom we will discuss your feedback and future steps.


Delivery of the final certificates

To finalize these five days training course we will deliver the final certificates of attendance to all participants.