Three Great STEM Toys Geared for Girls
Recognizing that princess is an unlikely future profession for today’s little girls – and that women remain sorely underrepresented in science fields – several female Bay Area entrepreneurs are working to add options to all the pretty and pink in the toy aisle.
These toymakers – several of them engineers themselves – hope to give girls options for fun play that also introduce and reinforce skills needed in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) learning. Among the skills these toys promote are spatial and design skills, circuitry, problem solving, plus creative play. And some boys may enjoy them, too!
Marine Rescue Center
Build and Imagine. $49.99. www.buildandimagine.com. Disappointed by the options in the “girls’” section of the toy store, Oakland mom Laurie Peterson set out to create a construction set that would encourage girls – and boys – to both build and imagine. Build & Imagine products, available for the first time this holiday season, are magnetic building sets for kids ages 4 to 8 that inspire imaginative play with “StoryWall” sets, characters, accessories and more. the company currently has two other sets: Day at the Beach ($39.99) and Malia’s Beach House ($59.99). www.buildandimagine.com.
Roominate. For ages 6-12. $29.99. www.roominatetoy.com. Roominate is a do-it-yourself wired dollhouse building kit that gets girls excited about STEM. Through hands-on building and circuits, Roominate brings together creativity, engineering, and most importantly, fun. Stanford engineers Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen designed Roominate to inspire the next generation of female technology innovators. The Basic Roominate set contains everything needed to build a miniature room. Use building pieces to make beds, staircases and much more. Wire up a windmill, elevator or merry-go-round that actually works using the motor circuit. The wall and floor panels can be endlessly configured to build two-level structures, balconies or backyards.
GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine
GoldieBlox. For ages 4-9 yrs. $29.99. www.goldieblox.com. Another Stanford engineer, Debbie Sterling, founded GoldieBlox to inspire the next generation of female engineers, knowing that girls can be discouraged and lose interest early in math and science, resulting in a dearth of female scientists, engineers and more. Research shows that the earlier kids get interested in math and science, the more likely they are to enter those fields. This series of interactive books and construction toys stars Goldie, a curious girl with a love of engineering. The stories encourage girls to build and develop spatial skills fundamental to engineering and math. Adventures lead to problems solved by building simple machines.