I was reviewing video segments from the various sessions from WWDC 2015 when I came across a segment titled “Think Audacious”. The presenter was Debbie Sterling, an engineer, role model and the inventor of GoldieBlox, a building set designed specifically for girls. The idea behind GoldieBlox is to introduce young girls to the principals of mechanical engineering and invention and develop a spatial sense—something that has been a given for young boys for generations and is evident whenever one visits a toy store. Cool construction toys for boys in one aisle and Barbie Dolls and related toys for girls in the other. Debbie refers to these as the “blue” and “pink” aisles.
Debbie’s presentation and the entire concept behind these kits resonated with me since I am the father of a 4 1/2 year old girl who is very smart and certainly has the capacity to learn engineering concepts—as long as she’s not programmed into believing that she is not able to grasp these skills. Debbie cited a global study where boys and girls were given the same science test and the girls scored higher in most countries except the United States. The conclusion is that this was due to our culture which places girls in the Pink aisle and Boys in the Blue. The data is in, so I wish the toy manufacturers, toy stores, marketers and advertisers would see the limitations they are imposing on young girls by reinforcing these outdated constructs of what boys and girls should be interested in.
I don’t know if this is in the works or not, but a TV series for GoldieBlox would get my vote in a New York minute. Our young girls need more role models that teach them to look beyond vanity and nurturing and let them see the possibilities available to them if they work hard. As stated on the GoldieBlox website, “Today in the United States, only 14% of engineers are women. Girls lose confidence in math and science, the building blocks of engineering, at around age eight”.
Yes, things have changed for the better with more opportunities for women now than ever before, but there is still a lot of room for improvement. Introducing our children to these engineering principals and concepts and the possibilities open to them needs to occur earlier in a young child’s development. We also need to abandon the stereotypical blue and pink boxes we place them in. S.T.E.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) toys should know no gender and should be prominent in both Blue and Pink aisles.
So how is all this relevant to an Apple related blog? Well in addition to these wonderful construction kits for young girls, there is a GoldieBlox app in the iTunes App Store that is a companion to their “GoldieBlox and the Movie Machine” set. What I like about this concept is that the construction projects are reinforced with story books and in this case, an iOS app so the experience is multi-dimensional and immersive. The app provides a creative environment where the child can create a 12 frame animation, which can be viewed in the app or printed and cut out to create a film strip that the child can install in the movie machine created with the construction set. The experience really lays out a process that is fun and educational while providing enough flexibility to encourage creativity and spark the child’s imagination.
I can see how a young girl can become totally absorbed in these projects. If you are the parent of a young girl, you owe it to your child to check this out. Visit GoldieBlox.com and their YouTube channel for Blox Shop episodes and check out Debbie Sterling’s inspiring “Think Audacious” presentation at WWDC 2015. You will need the free WWDC App for your iOS device or Safari or an Apple TV to stream the presentation.