Many attempts to encourage girls to pursue scientific careers through toys seem to follow a line of thinking that suggests that merely producing playthings in pastel purples and pinks will make them more appealing to the female gender. I have addressed the questionable nature of this hypothesis in a couple of other posts. (See Goldiblox, for example.) There is still a huge gap between the number of men and women in science, but steps have been taken in the right direction, lately.
For example, Lego just unveiled its new scientist mini-fig and, I am thrilled to see that she is not dressed in a frilly pink apron. (Although, you might be interested to read here about the other figures bundled in this collection!)
In another Lego related story, Mary Beth Hertz relates her experiences with girls and robotics using the Lego Mindstorms Robotics Kits. Mary noticed, as I have, that there is a disproportionate number of boys at robotics events. I was amazed, myself, to see how few girls applied for our 4th & 5th grade Robotics Club last year. Although I do not want to exclude the boys, I would like to see more girls turn in applications. (We do a random drawing for members from the papers that are submitted.) I’m not planning to make the applications pink, but I think a photo of some of the girls who were members last year should definitely be prominently displayed on the brochure!
In the meantime, check out this cool Kickstarter Project for a board game called, Robot Turtles designed to teach programming to 3-8 year olds. Yes, I said BOARD game – and, even better, the intent is for it to be played along with the parents. You can read more about it here. (For more programming for kids ideas, you can check out this post.)
And, to top it all off, Bill Nye the Science Guy is going to be on Dancing with the Stars. How perfect is that?
A new generation of scientists/programmers/engineers is waiting in the wings. Let’s do what we can to make these aspiring scientists the “stars” with whom everyone wants to dance 😉