This is an awesome new project on Kickstarter from a Stanford engineer who is designing a set of construction toy and books for girls to learn engineering. They are way over their funding goal with 9 days still left to go. The GoldieBlox project shows a lot of promise to get girls into engineering design, including having girls design belt-driven systems, pulley systems, and “parade floats” that demonstrate the fundamentals of force, structures, and 3D thinking skills. The creator, Debbie Sterling, has performed research to demonstrate that her approach of combining reading and verbal skills with design and building works better with girls than does a spatial-reasoning approach typically used with boys. As she says on her Kickstarter project page:
I spent a year doing in-depth research into gender differences and child development to create the concept. My big “aha”? Boys have strong spatial skills, which is why they love construction toys so much. Girls, on the other hand, have superior verbal skills. They love reading, stories, and characters.
GoldieBlox is the best of both worlds: reading + building. It appeals to girls because they aren’t just interested in “what” they’re building…they want to know “why.” Goldie’s stories relate to girls’ lives.
Along with Maykah, another recent Kickstart project to get girls hooked into engineering, there is now a groundswell of great ideas coming into the marketplace. I encourage you to check out and to support these recent efforts. I can speak from personal experience that the number of women in physical science and engineering is still way too low, and it gets worse the higher up the career ladder you go.