GoldieBlox: Up With Girls (sort of)

We’ve had some discussion of GoldieBlox on the forum recently, but that conversation moved on and I’m finding myself still obsessed with the topic. On the one hand, I think the idea behind the ad is awesome! I had been having a hard time figuring out how GoldieBlox would be a toy that would be engaging over a long period of time of creative play, and the ad certainly directly addresses that point. And I love that my daughter has spent more than 6 hours over the last few days building her own Rube Goldberg machine.

But I am also interested in the views from this blog post on Fake and Real Student Voice

I like much about this video. I like the message. I like the way it’s shot. I like the girls. What I don’t like is the perception that this is the girl’s invention. It’s not. These girls are likely no more into inventing and making than most girls their age. While I might be able to look past that, and I can, I don’t like the perception that this is authentic as it suggests. Which raises the larger question of authentic student voice.

Somehow it seems even more disingenuous when I realize that the engineering team for the GoldieBlox ad is primarily male. If you watch the Making Of videos on YouTube, that’s the single thing that jumps out at me most. That, and watching the kids be coached on how to jump up and down in girly excitement.

For a palate-cleanser: a group of middle school girls build their own damn Rube Goldberg machine themselves.

I am not planning to buy GoldieBlox for my kids– mostly because every time I look at the toy itself, it seems very expensive for a very few pieces of plastic machinery without a huge amount of creative play options. If I did buy it, it would not be for the toy itself, but more like a charity donation to encourage women in STEM, and there are probably better ways for me to do that. But my kids have, love, and play with regularly:
Wooden blocks
Toolbox and wood scraps
Ropes, elastic (good for engineering and sewing), yarn, ribbon,
Science/nature kits with binoculars, magnifying glasses, notebooks, butterfly nets and cages, and a handful of field guides

They also have Snap Circuits and a toy chemistry set, neither of which were as popular as I’d hoped, mostly because they seem to like open-ended toys like blocks more than kits like Snap Circuits or GoldieBlox.

A while back, I put together a holiday wishlist including things like pulleys and tire swing swivels (the swing mechanics are part of their Rube Goldberg). I’m going to go back through it this year, and see what other “simple machines” accessories I can add to their collection. And I will be thankful (though apparently also grumpy) that the GoldieBlox ad has renewed their interest in simple machines.

Anybody else have strong feelings about GoldieBlox, encouraging STEM in our girls, the intersection of ideals vs. real world (WTF, seriously, if you are making a viral ad AND releasing a “making of” that will certainly also be shown to little girls, you can’t find a 50-50 gender balance in your engineering team?), or even parody vs. unlicensed music pirating for their theme song? Join me on the topic Goldie Blox, feminism, STEM, and an all-male engineering team.

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More about the video: Grape Girls Rube Goldberg Project, May 2013, PVJH

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