Design Engine
Training Classes/Tutorials for Designers, Engineers, & 3D Professionals



Product Reviews

June 26th, 2012

Roominate, A Dollhouse Designed To Get Girls Excited About Tech

Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (or “STEM,” as these fields are collectively called nowadays) are overcrowded with dudes. Why are these fields so gender-imbalanced? Does it have to do with girls’ innate preferences, or is it a kind of learned avoidance that starts in childhood? The creators of Roominate, an educational toy designed to get girls interested in STEM subjects, are living proof that having a pair of X chromosomes is no barrier to success in science and engineering. Alice Brooks, Jennifer Kessler, and Bettina Chen studied mechanical engineering, neuroscience, and electrical engineering at some of the best universities in the world, and with Roominate, they hope to give young girls a way to encounter geeky creativity as early as possible.

Roominate is essentially a classic “girl” toy – a dollhouse – updated with hacker appeal. Instead of a prefab cottage with 1950s decor, Roominate is “a stackable, attachable, and customizable miniature room with working circuits that you build yourself.” A girl can build out the room to tell whatever imaginative story she likes, and then connect up circuits and other interactive elements to bring it to life. Take that, American Girl Store!

But wait a minute: Isn’t a dollhouse jammed with wires just another “gendered” toy retrofitted with some techy stuff? Lego Mindstorms already exist, and offer a lot of the same educational play experiences–so why should girls need something like Roominate? “We started with a toy that girls already love, and added educational components that make the toy even more engaging,” Alice Brooks tells Co.Design. “During our testing, we asked parents about the educational toys that they had previously purchased for their daughters. Their most common response was that educational toys are more often marketed to boys. We think girls should have the same access.”

As the geeky dad of a 10-month-old daughter, I find this non-judgmental attitude refreshing. Brooks, Kessler, and Chen aren’t trying to turn girls into boys in order to get them interested in STEM subjects; Roominate is a toy designed to meet girls where they already are, using “common play patterns that we know girls love,” as the Kickstarter page states. “We loved our dolls, stuffed animals, and Barbies growing up,” Brooks tells Co.Design. “But, we also love our Legos, Lincoln Logs, Mastermind, and Chess. With Roominate, we are showing girls that they can like both. Everything is an option.”

Everything is an option: Isn’t that how any educational toy should make a kid feel, regardless of their gender? Roominate may be designed for girls first, but there’s nothing about it that couldn’t appeal to boys as well. What if a son and daughter played with Roominate and Lego Mindstorms together, mixing and matching them and sharing and creating, without any thought of “what belongs where” on the gender spectrum? If toys like Roominate can help make that kind of play experience more common, maybe in the future we won’t even need clunky acronyms like STEM anymore. To our kids, it’ll all just be creating, thinking, connecting, and making.

Click To View Images:

A Dollhouse Designed To Get Girls Excited About Tech A Dollhouse Designed To Get Girls Excited About Tech A Dollhouse Designed To Get Girls Excited About Tech

Article Written by: John Pavlus





Design Engine Industrial Design Training Pro Engineer
 
 

 

The Arrival of Super Magnesium

In the course of focusing on new innovations, products and technologies we typically avoid the unproven, recent laboratory breakthrough or the idea that might be several years away from being a tangible product available to the...
by Dave Mazovick
0

 
 

The Maker Movement’s Influence on the Design World

Lauded as the “first ever advanced-level guide to making anything imaginable,” The Maker’s Field Guide provides creatives with a handy frame of reference, specifically geared toward those who want to know the basics o...
by Ariel Berchtold
0

 
 

Why Dyson Is Well Positioned for the Electric Car Space

Written by Dave Mazovick Over the past few years it has become known and acknowledged that Dyson is planning to enter the electric car arena by with what it describes as innovative, forward thinking products that will rethink...
by Dave Mazovick
1

 

 

Afterburn: Design for Manufacturability Using SolidWorks

AFTERBURN: Design for Manufacturability Using SolidWorks WHAT: Design Engine is hosting our AfterBurn networking event with a discussion in our Chicago studio.  Join us Thursday, October 18th from 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM at 4043...
by Scott Froemming
3

 
 

2018 International Design Excellence Award Winners Announced

The Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) announced this year’s International Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) winners at their annual ceremony this past week. The annual IDEA gala, held this year on Sept. 19 at The N...
by Ariel Berchtold
0

 



0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *