Engineering toys for girls

Ariel Schwartz in her Dec. 6, 2012 article for Fast Company’s Co-Design website describes three engineering toys, two of which are explicitly designed for girls while the other one is of interest to any child who might want to build a robot. From the article (Note: I have removed links),

Devised by Debbie Sterling, a Stanford-educated engineer, GoldieBlox is a brand new series of construction toys and books for girls that focuses on a young blond girl named Goldie who lives in what Sterling described to us as a “crazy engineering house,” chock full of moving parts and gears.

A triad of women who studied mechanical engineering, neuroscience, and electrical engineering created Roominate, a modular hacker dollhouse that comes with connectable circuits. Alice Brooks, one of the designers, told Co.Design: “We started with a toy that girls already love, and added educational components that make the toy even more engaging.”

Slightly older girls (11 and up) might enjoy the $199 Hummingbird robotics kit, created by BirdBrain Technologies (a spin-off from Carnegie Mellon University). The kit comes with four sub-kits: a light and vibration set with 10 multi-colored LEDs and two vibration motors; a control set that comes with an auxiliary motor power supply, a USB cable, and a screwdriver; a motion that includes DC motors and servos; and a sensing kit that contains sound, temperature, distance, light sensors along with a rotary knob; basically, anything you would need to build the robot of your dreams. [emphases mine]

You won’t be able to get GoldieBlox in time for Christmas as it doesn’t ship until April 2013. By the way, GoldieBlox was a successful Kickstarter project raising over $285,000 when the goal was $150,000. Here’s an image from their campaign,

GoldieBlox (image from http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/16029337/goldieblox-the-engineering-toy-for-girls)

You can find GoldieBlox here and you will find that a little more culture diversity is being introduced.

Roominate looks like great fun and you can get that kit in time for Christmas, assuming they don’t run out of stock,

“A cooling fan that I wired myself!”

And then there’s this,

“A spinning dog for my pet shop!”

There’s one more picture from the home page and I must say I heartily agree with the sentiments,

“Every airport needs a cupcake shop and an aquarium!”

Personally, I’m particularly interested in the robotics kit from BirdBrain Technologies. Schwartz notes in her article that a group of eighth graders used the kit to build a scene from Carl Sandberg’s poem Sand. Here’s a video from inventor (it’s geeky),

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