'Roominate' Engineering Toy Encourages Us To #LetGirlsBuild, Because STEM Is All Kinds Of Awesome — VIDEO
We comment a lot on what toys are doing wrong these days — the gendering, the gaffes, the well-intentioned missteps — so it's comforting to see that we're making strides, too. That's what we see in Roominate, an engineering toy meant to encourage girls interested in STEM — and indeed, even its latest ad campaign wants us to #LetGirlsBuild. Named by Jenn Choi of Forbes as one of the top 10 toys that kindle kids' creativity in 2014, it's definitely the kind of thing I would have wanted in my toy box when I was a kid. Anyone else?
The brainchild of Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen, Roominate follows in the steps of Goldieblox, creating a platform on which girls can explore engineer and other STEM pursuits. Brooks and Chen met while pursuing their masters degrees in engineering at Stanford; two of only a few women in the entire program, they realized as they became friends that they had both gotten the inspiration to pursue engineering from the same thing: Their childhood toys. For Chen, it was building entire worlds out of LEGOS with her brother; for Brooks, it was playing around in her father's robotics lab.
So, knowing that the gender gap in STEM fields is wide in the adult world and — even worse — starts young, they teamed up to create Roominate. Funded by an overwhelmingly successful Kickstarter campaign, developed in the StartX business incubator in 2012, and further financed by a $500,000 investment won in the sixth season of Shark Tank, the toy uses building, circuits, design, crafts, and even storytelling to teach kids as they play.
And their ad campaign? Well, that's a winner, too. In a video released on Thursday (which, by the way, was also Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day), Roominate encourages us to #LetGirlsBuild by showing us some of the remarkable women working in STEM today:
And the girls who have the potential to grow up to be the next generation of those women:
Not going to lie: It tugs at the heartstrings a little, but in the best way possible. It's all about possibility, you see — what we can and should and will strive for.
Check out the full video below, and learn more about each of the women featured in it at Roominate's home on the web.