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GoldieBlox, a Kickstarter-funded toy meant to encourage more young girls to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, is coming to the shelves of Toys R Us, America's largest toy retailer.
It’s no secret that the number of American women majoring in STEM subjects in college is worryingly low. In subjects like computer science and engineering, for instance, women earn only 20 percent of degrees awarded to graduates, according to the American Association of University Women.
That’s a problem Debbie Sterling experienced first hand while working toward a degree in engineering at Stanford – so she decided to do something about it.
After inspecting the toys currently marketed to young girls, Sterling realized that too many were about dress-up and tea parties, and too few taught basic scientific concepts. There are plenty of Lego sets and Lincoln Logs marketed to boys, she saw, but few targeted at girls. And the ones meant for girls are basically the same sets, repackaged in pink.
After speaking with young girls, Sterling realized that they enjoyed reading and books. She had an idea – why not combine storytelling with science?
Eventually, she built a prototype of a toy called GoldieBlox. It’s an engineering set, with an accompanying book that tells the story of Goldie, a young tinkerer. As Goldie solves problems to help out her friends, the kids can play along with their construction set.
It’s a neat idea with a great mission – just the sort of project one would expect to do well on a crowdfunding platform. Sterling thought so, taking GoldieBlox to Kickstarter last fall in hopes of raising $150,000. She raced past that goal in just four days, eventually collecting $285,000 from over five thousand backers.
On the last day of her campaign, Toys R Us, America’s largest toy retailer, contacted Sterling about placing the toy in the company’s stores across the nation. Fast-forward nine and a half months, and Sterling’s ‘GoldieBlox and the Spinning Machine’ is set to hit Toys R Us shelves soon. It's already available on the retailer's website.
It is the first in a series of toys that follow Goldie and her friends. The set and accompanying book, aimed at girls aged four to nine, tell the story of how Goldie builds a spinning machine to help her dog chase its tail.
Sterling’s story isn’t just an inspiring tale of a person looking to encourage a generation of young engineers; it also attests to the power of crowdfunding to help entrepreneurs realize their ideas, and the role of consumers in placing the products they want on the shelves of large stores.
To learn more about why Sterling decided to create GoldieBlox, check out her Kickstarter pitch video below.