Thursday, October 9, 2014

Construction toy for girls to promote interest in STEM

The GoldieBlox construction toy
I've written two posts about programs and ideas to get children interested in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) - Inspiring tomorrow's engineers (May 18,2014) and Girls Who Code (August 24, 2014) - the latter a program specifically for girls.

Another interesting development for promoting girls' interest in engineering is a new construction toy designed specifically for girls by focusing on aspects of their learning styles. The company - GoldieBlox - now has a variety of toys that allow girls to enjoy developing engineering skills.

GoldieBlox website:

A description of the products from the website: "At GoldieBlox, our goal is to get girls building. We're here to help level the playing field in every sens of the phrase. By tapping into girls' strong verbal skills, our story + construction set bolsters confidence in spatial skills while giving young inventors the tools they need to build and create amazing things."

The GoldieBlox website now has other toys as well: GoldieBlox and the Builder's Survival Kit, GoldieBlox and The Movie Machine, GoldieBlox and The Spinning Machine, etc.

On the Business Week website there is a video (2:43) in which there is an interview with the developer of GoldieBlox, Debbie Sterling. She explains how she came up with the idea and then marketed it. This would, of course be interesting for students as an example of how an innovator brings an idea to the market.

Business Week video:

On the Ideas Lab website there is an article about this product that also explains how Ms. Sterling started-up her innovation. The information can serve as a basis for discussion about how to get girls interested in engineering, and how learning styles of boys and girls differ.

In the article, Ms. Sterling says:

“I found that simply creating a pink building toy wasn’t enough. Young girls are far more avid readers than boys, and they internalize and learn more effectively through storytelling. … Through observation, research and a love for drawing, design and storytelling, I finally broke through with GoldieBlox — the first construction toy that comes with a storybook, aiming to introduce engineering concepts to girls. Girls follow Goldie through a series of adventures, where she is tasked to build simple machines to overcome obstacles. Building alongside Goldie, they learn engineering concepts and develop spatial skills along the way.”

Ideas Lab article: 

The article also has a link to a video (1:56) in which Ms. Sterling discusses the development of her innovation.

Students can follow the development of this innovation from an engineer seeing a need for a product, creating the product, raising funding for the product, and marketing the product. Finally, students can watch a very creative and interesting television commercial for GoldieBlox on youtube (2:07) in which a group of young girls who are bored with the usual "princess-type" toys decide to build an interesting contraption from those toys:

GoldieBlox commercial: 

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