My daughter is super into science. While seeing two people kiss on TV makes her cover her eyes in horror, she had no problem searching through owl pellets for mouse bones at zoo camp this summer. (She got to bring the mouse bones home, yay! Not.)
I know, however, she might lose interest in the subject unless we keep encouraging her and showing her that it's cool for girls to be into it. Women are significantly underrepresented in math and science jobs, and one theory for why that happens is that little girls aren't encouraged to study these subjects by parents, teachers, or the toys they play with. Toymakers like GoldieBlox and shows like "Doc McStuffins" are trying to change that, and a smart new line of dolls is joining the cause as well.
Project Mc² is a new line of four "geek-chic" dolls who each come with cool science experiment kits based in S.T.E.M. / S.T.E.A.M. (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) curriculum. Toymaker MGA Entertainment worked with both a former CIA agent and a science PhD to develop the experiments, which let girls create a working volcano, lava light, glow stick necklace and a blueprint skateboard. Plus, kids can perform the experiments again and again using just kitchen supplies and household items. As a parent, I appreciate that the experiment isn't just a one-time thing and that there are no refill packets to buy.
My daughter loves the Adrienne Attoms doll, who came with the volcano experiment. You just put the plastic volcano on a plate, add baking soda, food coloring, and vinegar, and watch the explosion. It's simple and easy and something my 8-year-old can totally do on her own. I can see being cajoled into buying a whole set of beakers and test tubes for other experiments soon! (Is it wrong I would rather my kid blow up our house than fill it with owl bones? I don't think so.)
The Project Mc² characters also have their own Netflix Original Series of the same name that debuted August 7. The live-action show features four super smart tween girls who are recruited to join a top-secret spy organization and catch bad guys using science and math. The series stars Wonder Years' star and math whiz Danica McKellar. (She plays the mom of one of the girls, which, for anyone like me who tuned in to see her as Winnie Cooper in the late '80s, will make you feel super old.)
Both the dolls and the Netflix series feature girls of various cultural backgrounds to represent "real" girls. Each doll even has its own unique face "sculpt" and they all stand at diffferent heights, just like real girls do.
The Project Mc² dolls hope to show girls that "Smart Is the New Cool"and provide them with aspirational science and math role models who are relatable and fun. With more toys and shows like these, I think women may be equally represented in science and math jobs in about 20 years, don't you?
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Ellen Sturm Niz is a New York City-based editor and writer who wishes she had tried harder in chemistry class instead of believing she just couldn't learn it. Check out Ellen's new Etsy shop and follow her on Twitter and Pinterest.