Generally speaking, my job is really fun. I get to meet all types of people, write about really cool technology, and work on a lot of projects that are very important to me. One of those projects is ECN (and her sister publications) push for STEM education. In particular, many of the pieces I’ve written have focused on toys and how they influence little girl’s skill sets. I’ve written a few times about GoldieBlox, which is a toy targeted specifically at younger girls (though I think young boys would enjoy it as well). The creator, Debbie Sterling is a Stanford engineer who decided that girls needed a toy that encouraged basic engineering skills, but also incorporated a storyline. Girls, generally speaking, are more drawn to reading, so a combination of the two is an ideal approach.
I thought that was a great idea, and I wrote a few pieces about it. The fun part of my job came when I bought my very own GoldieBlox. It’s actually the first one created called GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine. The idea is that you follow along with the book and building the basic structure as you go.
So first, a look at the Bill of Materials included. I think it’s really interesting that they use the industry term for the materials.
And a peek at the box…
The premise for this one is about spinning, so it includes a pegboard to use as a base.
So step one (according to the read along book) is to build a simple spinning contraption.
Check. Now onto the more complicated task using all the characters.
Success! So, this part is “solved” in the book through a series of different attempts by the main character, but it’s all explained pretty clearly for kids following along. Overall, this toy exceeded my expectations. One of my concerns was that it would get boring after you finished the book, but I was wrong. Once you build the main storyline, there are a ton of other options in the back of the book ranging from easy to master engineer. The thing I like about this is that once you get the hang of it, it’s really up to your imagination to build whatever you want and do some trial and error testing. It’s been quite a while since I was ages 4 through 9, but I feel like I would have enjoyed this as a kid. It’s got the physical tinker aspect that is fun, but also has a book and a storyline.
I’d really like to try another one of the sets, but for the first try, this gets two thumbs up.
To really test it out (and also confuse other people in the office) I also built their centrifuge. I think I should have been an engineer.