We all saw that awesome Goldieblox ad, it got shared like wildfire and I'm sure I'm not the only one who ordered a set for their daughter. Their aim to "disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers" is a great one, especially in light of the reality of girls in engineering. Fewer than 3 in 10 graduates in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are women. And barely 1 in 10 actual engineers are women. Like I said, I bought Lev a Goldieblox set, and we have had a ton of fun playing with it together, and I wanted to keep that momentum going. Finn is obsessed with building Legos, and my mom and I thought maybe it would be nice to get Lev her own set. I had recently judged the Saratoga Reads Lego Contest, and one of the kids had built a castle that included a tiny little patch of Lego flowers, I knew Levy would love that part. So my Mom and I went to Target and searched the Lego aisle, no Legos with flowers to be seen. I was SURE those flowers were Legos, I had even asked the little boy if the flowers were Legos, and he said yes for sure, they were all Legos. So I asked a Target employee, who directed me out of what I thought was the Lego aisle into the "GIRL" Lego aisle which was located three aisles down sandwiched between the dolls and the princess stuff. I wasn't sure why Legos had to be separated into boy and girl aisles, but we found the flowers we were looking for, in a pink colored box containing a girl named Mia (not the same size as regular Lego minifigs, but rather oddly taller and skinnier and with extra eyelashes). Now, I'm not against pink and flowers and cute little kitty cats with curled eyelashes, dresses and princesses and glitter and all that. It's all good and we've got it all in this house, but this Lego girl sort of bugged me.
Levy was thrilled with her Lego set, she loved the flowers, she loved the little lemonade stand that we built together. But she wasn't thrilled with the Lego figurine. "I can't play with Finn's Lego guys with this one, this is more like a doll". And she was right. The "girl" Lego figurines are larger and not the same shape as regular Lego "minifigs". They just don't work in the same way as the traditional minifigs do. You can't snap a "girl" Lego Friend onto the seat of a self-built Lego car, pretty much the only thing that is similar is the curved hands. You can't customize them by swapping legs or heads or hats, the only thing customizable about her new Lego Mia was that you could snap a pink bow onto her hair.
But, she played with her new "Lego doll" as she called it, separate from the Legos, and instead played with the female scientist minifig Finn got for Christmas when her and Finn wanted to build a little Lego village. So she made it work, but I was pretty much done with buying girl Legos. Instead I wanted to look at finding ways for Lev to get her hands dirty, so to speak, to find some hands on activities that would help her bring out her inner engineer.
I found this program through the Saratoga Springs School District. The Educating Young Engineers program is being held on Saturday April 5th in the Saratoga Springs High School cafeteria and is open to kids in the Saratoga Springs School District in grades K-6. The cost is $25 (and includes a pizza lunch). Kids will partake in a series of engineering themed activities geared towards exciting young students about problem solving and critical thinking and activities include fun stuff like creating marshmallow catapults, exploring properties of a wind tunnel, experimenting with electricity, and designing egg crash cars. I can't wait, and I'm hoping that it will bring some new ideas into our house for how to keep stuff like this going on our own.
If you're into finding some new ideas to try out at home, here are a few fun links with some great ideas:
- 100 Engineering Projects for Kids
- PBS Kids ZOOM Activities
- Great Pinterest board full of activities
- Fun science and technology for kids