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GoldieBlox: Construction toy gets girls into engineering early

Step aside, Lego Friends. GoldieBlox is doing construction toys for girls the right way by combining stories with building skills and keeping the color pink down to reasonable level.

GoldieBlox set and book
Yes, that's a spinning dolphin ballerina.
Susan Burdick Photography

Stanford engineer Debbie Sterling has seen a boy bias in toys like Lego and Erector sets. Lego's recent attempts at appealing to girls seem to be a little off the mark. So how do you get girls interested in engineering toys?

Sterling's answer: a Kickstarter project called GoldieBlox. It's a construction toy paired with a storybook, "GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine."

The main character is Goldie, a kid inventor. She is joined by a cat, a dolphin ballerina, a sloth, a bear, and her dog Nacho. The construction set has a pegboard, wheels, axles, blocks, a ribbon, a crank, and washers.

GoldieBlox is geared for girls from 5 to 9 years old. They follow along with the story and build a belt drive to spin the characters around.

A $30 pledge gets you the toy and storybook set. The story will also be available as an e-book for iPhone and iPad with narration, animation, and tutorials.

This isn't just a regular toy painted pink. The entire GoldieBlox concept is designed to play to girls' strengths with verbal skills and interest in stories.

"The Spinning Machine" is planned as the first in a series of books and toys that will explore engineering concepts like pulleys, circuits, and coding.

With a noticeable dearth of women in science and engineering fields, projects like GoldieBlox and Roominate (a high-tech dollhouse) can catch girls at an impressionable age, sparking their interest in building and design. With time, perhaps we won't think of engineering as a male-dominated field anymore.