Building With Stories and Tools

Introducing the Cat Walker, designed and created by Claire. It was engineered to exercise a cat while transporting other beings. (In this case, it’s Benjamin Cranklin the Cat hauling two Katinka the Dolphin Ballerinas.) She made this using her GoldieBlox toys.

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The field of engineering consists roughly of 13 % women and 87% men. A couple of years ago, Debbie Sterling, an engineer, asked herself the question of why more girls aren’t interested in engineering, and how to get them excited about the skills related to it. I recall her Kickstarter video mentioning that girls love stories. They aren’t drawn just to build something for the sake of building. Girls like characters and plot. So Sterling set out to create a construction toy that would appeal to girls by giving them stories that incorporate spatial skills, teach engineering principles, and boost confidence in problem-solving.

I contributed to the Kickstarter campaign and ordered the first set, GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine. The focus is on the skill concept of a belt drive. It contains a storybook, 5 animal figurines, 1 pegboard, 5 wheels, 10 axles, 5 blocks, 5 washers, 1 crank, 1 ribbon. Claire loves playing with it. The biggest attraction is the five animals; they excite her imagination, and she incorporates the GoldieBlox pieces in all sorts of ways with her other toys. Other times she plays just with the pieces (as shown above) and creates things on her own.

Sterling’s company has subsequently produced two more toys. One is called GoldieBlox and the Parade Float; its skill concept is wheel and axel. The other — just released — is GoldieBlox and the Dunk tank, with a focus on hinge and lever mechanics.

We’ve also been pleased with Lego Friends. Claire considered Legos a “boy toy” and avoided them. As soon as the Friends line was introduced she became eager to play with them. Again, the appeal is in the story and characters. (And it thrills her father, who loves Lego and really wanted to share it with her.)

I really appreciate Debbie Sterling’s vision and am delighted there are engineering toys with special appeal to girls. And of course, boys are welcome to play with them (and they do)! The company website states that they will be introducing male characters in the future, and that “everyone is encouraged to discover engineering with Goldie and her friends.” These toys are available at Target, Toys R Us, and Amazon.


If the embed doesn’t work, here is the link: The Launch Video.

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