Gadgets

Here’s an amazing Rube Goldberg contraption — for making girl engineers

There aren’t nearly enough toys that encourage girls to use their brains, solve problems, build things, and — maybe — eventually become engineers.

So GoldieBlox is tackling that problem by creating clever toys for aspiring young makers — the kinds of makers who just happen to be girls.

Its latest promotional video is a great illustration of why that’s such an awesome idea. Three little girls stare, stupefied, as a TV screen blares an obnoxious commercial for girls who want to be princesses, or cover girls, or something else stereotypically useless.

But then they kick off a new song: A version of the Beastie Boys’ classic “Girls” but with updated, girl-friendlier lyrics. And as the song plays, an amazing Rube Goldberg contraption unwinds through the house. Built in part with GoldieBlox toys, the contraption flips switches, rolls ping-pong balls, turns on a faucet, opens a garage door, shoots a ball, and … well, you’ll just have to watch it.

It must be getting some traction, since the video has been watched more than 1.1 million times — and it was just published two days ago.

GoldieBlox launched a little over a year ago, with a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $170,000. The founder, Debbie Sterling, is a Stanford-trained engineer who decided she’d had enough of the ubiquitous gender-stereotyping of children’s toys, and started GoldieBlox to help encourage more girls to become engineers. So far it offers just two main products: GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine, and GoldieBlox and the Parade Float. Both combine stories with construction parts that are aimed at teaching girls aged 4-9 spatial relationships as well as specific engineering concepts (belt drives, wheels and axles) that they can use in a wide variety of construction projects. Both kits cost $20, and the company also sells expansion kits with additional parts, as well as some cute T-shirts for the little hackers in your family.

Here’s some background on the adorable inventors (and their adult helpers) behind this video.

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