Barbie at 60 is a tech and science wiz

Toys & Tabletop Games
Hello this is Barbie, reporting live for Barbie Action News. And we're here at the Consumer Electronics Expo to witness the unveiling of a new technology that could change the world. I'm here today with the one and only Barbie. So Barbie, can you tell us what new tech product you're unveiling? Yeah, sure, Barbie. My team of engineers have created a new line of robots. What kind of robots, exactly? The kind that take over the world. [LAUGH] There's no stopping my robot army. [LAUGH] [SOUND] Destroy, destroy, destroy. [SOUND] My gosh, I have to stop the robot army. I know, I'll formulate a robot killing acid. No, Scientist Barbie, there's just no time. We need to send in [UNKNOWN] In space. Quick, get my spaceship. What? Were you expecting a fashion show. These days Barbie is all about science. [MUSIC] Go. [MUSIC] [MUSIC] Barbie has been around since 1959, over the years she's been a fashion doll but also a doll that captures the culture and the aspirations Of our times. Barbie's resume is quite long. She's had more than 200 careers. But it's only recently that she's started getting more careers in STEM. That's short for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. STEM is trendy now in the toy world. And of course, a science smart Barbie can inspire the next generation of girls to see themselves In those jobs where are underrepresented by women. For 2018 Mattel is launching robotics engineer Barbie. She comes with a little robot and a laptop, the screen cluttered with programming code. She has safety goggles and of course, she makes geek look chic with a computer chip design on her top and jacket This is not the first Barbie with a computer science degree, but she is the first that can act the part. She teaches coding with a free workbook and computer game. I spoke with Mattel's Chief Technology Officer, Sven Gerjets, about Mattel's Layered approach. What we're trying to do with this robotics engineer Barbie, is, how do we feed the top of the funnel? How do we get little girls more inspired to go into the technical fields, to go into the engineering fields. And then they can graduate to these engineering toys. Barbie's come along way since her debut. In her first jobs, she started out as a fashion designer. [UNKNOWN], a nurse, a flight attendant. In 1963, Mattel made a version just called career girl. But two years later, she went on to become an astronaut. Barbie's actually been to space a few times over the years. Even making the trip to Mars. But aside from space adventures, decades went by without her exploring more down to earth jobs in science or math. And then there was Teen Talk Barbie. In 1992, the doll was programmed to say all sorts of random girly things when you pressed the button. Every doll had a different set of phrases and a small Dutch dolls said the phrase, math is hard. Yeah. That whole girls who don't like math thing scored a big zero and added up to a big problem. [LAUGH] But Barbie toughed out the criticism by immediately joining the police force and enlisting in the Army. She also pursued professional sports. In the 90s, she was an Olympic gymnast, a soccer player, a NASCAR driver, a baseball player, and she was in the WNBA. But what about the sciences? Well, in the 90s She dug up dinosaurs as a paleontologist, and to her credit, Barbie has of course practiced many fields of medicine over the years. She's been a surgeon, a veterinarian, a dentist, and when she wasn't delivering babies, she also ran for president a few times. Yeah, lots of pant suits. Barbie took on many tough jobs, but it wasn't until 2010 that Mattel showed she wasn't afraid of math anymore. That's when Barbie landed a job as a computer software engineer, with a laptop full of binary code? Okay, well let's just ignore that, because hey, she was a big deal She had the smart girl glasses, and made bluetooth earpieces look cool. This was 2010, a time when we were app crazy, the I-pad just launched. And here's a Barbie that can finally code, or, can she. Mattel had a misstep with this kid's book called, I can be a computer engineer, it was sold separately from the doll. But in the story we learned that programmer Barbie does not do the programming, she just comes up with design ideas and she needs the boys to do the coding for her. She also infects her computer and her sister's computer with a virus and needs the boys help to fix it. There was so much Internet rage over the book. Mattel apologized, vowing to do better in the future. In 2016, Mattel tried again with a Game Developer Barbie, and she looked the part. But this year's robotic engineer can make it more real for kids. By teaching them coding basics. Included with purchase is a downloadable workbook that goes over concepts of computer programming. It shows kids how coding relates to everyday life and problem solving. Mattel worked with Tinker.com to make a free web class where our robotic engineer Helps kids animate their own robot with commands that take the form of these puzzle-shaped blocks. Mattel is showing kids that programming does not have to be something you do when you grow up. You could be a programmer right now. And Mattel CTO says you can expect to see Barbie doing more computer science in the future. So when my little girl plays with barbies, she'll be playing with a doll that asks questions and goes on adventures using science and computers, and maybe she'll be inspired to someday build a robot army to take over the world. [MUSIC]

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