By Lyric Enright, Intern at the DAE

At this point we have all seen or at least heard of Fidget Spinners, but how did they start popping up everywhere in the first place? These gadgets were originally created with the purpose of helping fidgety people concentrate but now they have become so much more…


The simple toy was originally invented by Catherine Hettinger. Hettinger applied for a patent in 1993 for a device she was calling a “spinning toy” and received the patent in 1997. Hettinger started making the toy using a machine she bought from a sign manufacturer and eventually pitched the toy to Hasbro Inc. who rejected her offer. The patent expired in 2005 allowing other companies, like Hasbro, to begin making and selling their own versions of the spinning toy, and now over 10 years later the device has taken off.

Hettinger couldn’t make any claims to fortune as her original patent didn’t seem to cover today’s fidget spinners, although, she has earned the title of original inventor. However, Hettinger isn’t sore about the situation, “Maybe if it was some kind of exploitative product — like a new style of cigarettes — and my only motivation was to make money, I’d have a different attitude, but I am just thrilled.” she told The New York Post.


Since the fidget spinner exploded, it has earned many names including stress reliever, toy and distraction. The device was originally marketed to people with autism, ADHD and anxiety as a way to distract themselves or keep calm. People still seek out fidget spinners for this purpose but the device has become more so a toy favored by people of all ages. Although, many teachers and schools do not favor the toy at all.


At Christopher Columbus School No. 15, fourth grade teacher Christine Lucia found a way to teach while using the student’s new favorite toy. Lucia created a contest where students see who could make their homemade fidget spinner spin the longest. The kids had to use their creative skills to design the fidget spinner while learning how Newton’s Laws make the device work. Also, students used principles of physics to adjust their spinners to help them rotate longer. This solution was the perfect compromise for the students and the teachers, allowing the students to play while learning.

The DAE and Spinners

Here at The DAE we use the excitement the spinners have generated to teach STEAM-related topics. Our 3D printing workshop allows kids to learn about 3D printing all while creating the new IT toy. We also build spinner simulators in Scratch Programming. Grabbing and keeping kids’ attention is an important part of teaching these days. At The DAE, all of our classes are hands on and made for learning while having fun. Head to our website to learn more about our our End of June Steam Workshops or Summer Steam Camps!