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New Toy Encourages Engineering For Girls

Created: 11/22/2013 7:33 PM KSTP.com
By: John Doetkott

(ABC 6 News) -- Just in time for the holiday season, a new toy commercial is gaining national attention for its message to little girls.

The message: engineering can be fun.

The latest commercial for GoldieBlox, a toy marketed toward future engineers, and future female engineers in particular, features a catchy song with lyrics like, “All our toys look just the same, and we would like to use our brains.”

The commercial has become increasingly popular on parenting blogs, with moms and dads everywhere applauding its message.

“Going across that boundary that's been set up, I think is a good thing,” said Jenna Obernolte, assistant city engineer in Austin.

Obernolte said she was the only woman in her entire college engineering program, and with a four-year-old daughter at home, she says toys like GoldieBlox help reinforce a positive female image.

“A little girl likes to be told that she's pretty, but she also likes to be told that she's smart and she's strong,” Obernolte said. “I think we don't need to emphasize just on princesses but on all different qualities."

At IJ Holton Intermediate School in Austin, engineering classes start in fifth grade, with boys and girls working side by side.

“I think it's good for girls, they can express their creativity in ways they hadn't thought of before,” said Kaylene Jensen, an engineering instructor at the school. “By using some of their skills that are already hobbies, [they can] let it lead them in another direction that can lead to potential careers."

The new engineering experiences seem to be having the desired effect on students.

“I didn't even have any thoughts of being an engineer,” said sixth grader Ellie Eyre. “But now that I've seen what you get to do, and all the different kinds that there are, I've kind of switched on what I might want to be."

Teachers say starting students on the science and engineering path early will hopefully someday make toys like GoldieBlox go from novel to ordinary.

“If they have that curiosity in them, they're not going to be looking at if it's a boy toy or if it's a girl toy,” Jensen said. “I think they're really going to be looking at 'That looks cool, and I want to see how it works and what I can do with it.'