toys

Becoming a STEMinist with StemBox – Win a StemBox!

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Last weekend, Kitty and I were invited to join Kina McAllister, Founder and CEO of StemBox , as she led a group of 15 girls in a “StemBox Workshop”.  McAllister, formerly a HIV researcher at Fred Hutichinson Cancer Research Institute, uses the workshops to test the monthly boxes before they are shipped to girls all over the country.  We had the opportunity to test out March’s “Lemon Battery Kit”  and we were super impressed. Read on to learn all about it, and enter to win your own StemBox!

We arrived at the HiveBio Community Lab, got a name badge and the girls went into a small room.  Kina introduced herself, and then did a short lesson on electricity, the components you need to make a battery, and how the items in the kit (lemons, galvanized nails, a piece of copper and some wire) met those needs. Our mission was to create a battery that could power a small LED.  Everything we needed was included in the box that would be mailed to subscribers- with the exception of the lemons.

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StemBox Founder Kina gives a lesson on electricity.

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Safety first!

After a quick talk about safety, the girls headed downstairs to the lab. The girls were so excited to open their boxes. They had all taken the safety lesson very seriously and were all gloved up and decked out in their safety goggles in no time. Then they got down to work.  It was a little tricky for some of the younger girls to figure out the wiring pattern, as the lesson hadn’t included a mention of the multiple lemons needed to generate enough electricity to power the LED, but once that was figured out every girl successfully created a working lemon battery.  There was a little time left after the main experiment, and Kina encouraged the girls to create their own experiments. The girls added more lemons to their circuit, measured electricity with a voltmeter, added more LEDs, added more wires….it was really neat to watch the girls come up with ideas and then test them out. 

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Kit was very focused!

When this box is sent to subscribers it will include instructions and all of the materials needed minus anything perishable – which parents will have to provide; in this case lemons, some fun surprises like stickers, and links to a video demonstration and a video bio of a “STEMinist” (A STEM Feminist – I LOVE it!) currently working in the field.

McAllister came up with the idea for StemBox when she realized that the science kits that helped her get interested in science aren’t as readily available to kids today.  She knew that consistent access is a key to keeping girls interested and engaged, and a subscription box seemed like the best way to do that.  She has developed an engaging product that Kitty loved – she begged me to subscribe before we even left the building.  When we got home she was so excited to show Nate the box the folks at StemBox were kind enough to send us home with. They sat together and replicated the experiment, and then Nate showed her some other things she could do with the materials.  We’re very excited to subscribe and see what next month’s box brings!

Nate lliked it, too!

Nate lliked it, too!

StemBox is $28.33 – $36/month depending on your subscription plan. You can subscribe here.

 

StemBox has been generous enough to provide one Parenting Geekly reader with their own Lemon Battery StemBox!  Use the form below to enter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Funko Pop! Sesame Street Vinyl Figures Unboxing

If you read this blog with any sort of frequency, you know that I LOVE Sesame Street.  (You can read my other Sesame Street Posts here) So I was pretty darn excited when Funko sent me a bunch of their new Sesame Street Pop! vinyl figures.   I, along with everyone else in the world, love the Pop! figures (I currently have a Funko Pop! Phillie Phanatic on my desk at Joule HQ), and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on these!

They came yesterday afternoon, so today I did my first unboxing video!  Check it out!

The Sesame Street figures will be available on May 25, 2015 . You can order them at this (affiliate) link:
Funko Pop! Sesame Street Figures at Amazon

Why I Love DC’s New Super Hero Girls

Yesterday DC Comics announced the launch of  DC Super Hero Girls a line of videos, digital games, books and toys marketed to girls.

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DC’s new Super Hero Girls (image courtesy of DC Comics)

From the DC Press Release:

Beginning in Fall 2015, DC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Bros. Consumer Products and Mattel join forces to launch DC Super Hero Girls, an exciting new universe of Super Heroic storytelling that helps build character and confidence, and empowers girls to discover their true potential.  Featuring DC Comics’ most powerful and diverse line-up of female characters as relatable teens, DC Super Hero Girls will play out across multiple entertainment content platforms and product categories to create an immersive world.

Developed for girls aged 6-12, DC Super Hero Girls centers on the female Super Heroes and Super-Villains of the DC Comics universe during their formative years—prior to discovering their full super power potential. Featuring a completely new artistic style and aesthetic, DC Comics’ icons such as Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Batgirl, Harley Quinn, Bumble Bee, Poison Ivy, Katana and many more make their unprecedented teenaged introduction. Each character has her own storyline that explores what teen life is like as a Super Hero, including discovering her unique abilities, nurturing her remarkable powers and mastering the fundamentals of being a hero.

And (one of my favorite parts):

Mattel category-leading firsts include a line of characters for the action figure category, an area of the industry that has been primarily developed with boys in mind, and fashion dolls featuring strong, athletic bodies that stand on their own in heroic poses.

Internet commenters have already pointed out that making a line targeted to girls is “othering”, deepens the divide between the genders and accentuates the thought that girls need something different than what boys need. I especially dislike the use of “Just for girls” and “exclusively for girls” language in the full press release. These are all valid points, and marketing to specific genders is always going to be problematic in some ways.

Let me tell you, though, why I am excited about this new line.

When I was a little girl I loved playing with action figures.  I had Thundercats, WWF wrestlers and He-Man, and none of my female friends ever wanted to play with them. When friends came they would almost always want to play with my Barbie collection, not my action figures.  When She-Ra debuted I went nuts.  I was a girly girl, who happened to like superheroes and so She-Ra was a dream come true,  I think I had all the figures, a castle and some sort of bathing/pool thing.  I watched the cartoon religiously. (I really cannot express how much I loved She-Ra. When I threw pennies into a fountain, I would always wish for She-Ra to be real.)  As a bonus, my non-superhero-loving female friends were totally into her, too. I finally had a way to share my geekiness with my female friends.

The fact of the matter is that girls and boys are already being marketing to separately.  Boys get building toys, cars and super hero action figures and girls get doll babies, barbies and froufy dress up clothes.  DC (and LEGO before them) is actually bridging the gender gap here by taking something that is traditionally found in the “boys” department and making it appealing for the “girls” aisle.  The two aisles exist, I don’t see that changing anytime soon, so I am happy to see more diversity  in what’s offered.

As I’ve written before (about my own daughter), there are going to be girls who choose to shop for the “girly” things. They love sparkles and ponies and princesses, and that frilly pink aisle is where they want to be.  I am so excited that those girls will have a line of fashion dolls that are empowering.  If these toys encourage a girl to pick up a comic book, to discover a love of superheroes, or just give her a different way to express herself, this is a win.