I support GoldieBlox www.goldieblox.com, a toy startup dedicated to introducing girls to engineering through a combination of building toys and stories. That is, I bought 3 or 4 boxes of their first product from the USA on blind faith. The combination of hands-on building with hard and soft materials, abstract building materials and concrete characters, and a storybook in relatively simple English, is really nice for 4-8 year-olds, whether or not they’ve been born into playing in English. I do think the storybook is a bit dim, I’m afraid, but the concept and the toy itself is fine. So I have these boxes of the GoldieBlox Spinning Machine sitting around my flat, waiting for my favorite little girls to pick them up. GoldieBlox has produced a followup toy, as well.
The GoldieBlox venture is more idea than toy, at this point. CEO Debbie Sterling is using social media to create a community to empower girls.”In a world where men largely outnumber women in science, technology, engineering and math…and girls lose interest in these subjects as early as age 8, GoldieBlox is determined to change the equation. Construction toys develop an early interest in these subjects, but for over a hundred years, they’ve been considered “boys toys”. By designing a construction toy from the female perspective, we aim to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers.”
So GoldieBlox created the “Princess Machine” advertisement to enter into a contest for broadcasting rights at the Superbowl. It’s a type of Rube Goldberg machine that employs mechanical components from the toy set, and just a few more doodads you might find around the house.
Unfortunately, it was not built by the girls acting here, which I find somewhat off-putting. Why promote a girl empowerment toy and then disempower the girls in question? The girls are, however, the power-users and testers of the toy itself. Perhaps the ad is intended to inspire others. At any rate, the video has gone viral, with nearly 3 million hits in 2 days.