STEM for Girls
As mentors, we need to be very conscious of the attitudes that we project around kids since they are such keen observers. We have been so conditioned, that it is often almost a knee-jerk reaction to gravitate to one kind of toy or another based on gender when selecting toys. Young children are much more open minded about toys than their conditioned parents. We shouldn't think twice if girls want to play with trucks and construction sets, and likewise we should not mind if boys want to play with dolls. Girls can be anything and do anything. The same should be said for boys.
Personally, I should preface, that I did not like "girlie" toys or things whatsoever when I was a child. This may have been due to my older brother's influence, as I remember his detest if I ever received anything girlie. I seemed to have quickly adopted his attitude, perhaps to be in his good graces. However, I know many girls who absolutely love pink and very girly things.
With consumer complaints in recent years that toy companies are conditioning children to think that girls should mainly play with homemaker style toys and that boys are the ones who play with building and action toys, there has been a shift in marketing and toy production. There are a lot of new STEM toys specifically focused for girls in hopes of encouraging them into STEM careers. Previously there had been a void in toys that featured female characters or images of girls on their packaging when it came to STEM toys. I, for one, am very happy to see more emphasis on STEM toys for girls. (Though as a child, I most probably would not have gravitated towards any of these except for the LEGO minifigures and the Nancy B Kits.) I also am happy that some stores are bringing down the pink and blue aisles at the toy stores. The greater focus I think, however, should be on less separation between boys and girls toys and should be more on inclusion. (There should be a balance of female characters in building sets as well as in action heroes. There should be pictures of both boys and girls playing with most toys, from building sets to rockets.)
This particular toy list is for those of you looking for very targeted toys, primarily for girls and for those who like girlie things. I created it in hopes of making it easier for you to narrow down toys that are either girl-centric and STEM educational or that feature women figures in scientific roles to help your girls imagine and dream. This list includes female characters in building kits, dolls, science kits and other miscellaneous STEM toys that seem to be targeted for girls. I have created this list to cater to those who are looking for more options for girl-specific toys. Again, I would remind you that in doing so, we perpetuate the division of "this is a girl toy and this is a boy toy" and which may further condition a girl into thinking she should only play with girl's things. Be sure to review the Top STEM Toys lists (Part 1 and Part 2) which has more gender neutral toys, and overall, I think a better selection of toys that will keep kids occupied for a longer duration of time. Give your girl confidence that she can do anything those boys are doing and even better!
As I do not have personal experience with most of these, manufacturer descriptions for toys are listed below with some occasional commentary from me.
Female Characters in Building Sets
LEGO Female Minifigures (5 years and up)
In 2012 LEGO honored Dr. Sylvia Earle, marine biologist and ocean explorer, with a minifigure made in her likeness. This year LEGO released a series of sets in the Deep Sea Explorers Collection which seem to include a female scientist in several of them. (You have to look very closely for the red lips and eye lashes to make them out, as many of the divers wear full diving gear with hoods.)
LEGO® Female Scientist #3 - From RARE set 21110 - with Accessories
LEGO Minifigures Series 11, Female Scientist
LEGO - Minifigures Series 5 - ZOOKEEPER
LEGO Minifigures Series 13 Paleontologist Construction Toy
LEGO Research Institute (5 years and up)
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LEGO Cuusoo 21110 Research Institute
This model was voted for by LEGO Ideas members! It includes three female mini figures: paleontologist, astronomer, and chemist and accompanying scenes for each on a 6x6 baseplate. The astronomy scene features a telescope and a sky chart. The
paleontology scene features a dinosaur skeleton, microscope and a magnifying glass. The chemistry scene features a cabinet, tools, bottles and flasks.
This set also includes a booklet containing information about the creator and an introduction to each of the professions featured in the set.
LEGO City Deep Sea Explorers (7-12 years)
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LEGO City Deep Sea Explorers 60093 Helicopter Building Kit
The Deep Sea Explorers series is great for marine biology enthusiasts. This set includes 3 minifigures with assorted accessories: a female submariner, helicopter pilot and a scuba diver and features a helicopter, submarine and a shark. The helicopter has a large cockpit, spinning twin rotors, working winch and an opening loading bay. Accessory elements include a walkie-talkie, box, 3 gold coins and a yellow and blue diamond.
This particular set is one of several Deep Sea Explorers sets that has a female minifigure, though this is the only one I found that has a female submarine pilot with a full head of hair. Some of the others seem to have female divers, based on their red lips and eyelashes.
Roominate Chateau (6-12 years)
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Instead of a traditional doll house, this modular set allows for the whole structure to be built by connecting the wall and floor panels, as well as spiral staircases, bunk beds, pools, and more. This set includes 131 pieces: walls, furniture building pieces, arches, wheels, axles, motor, lights, doll, pet bunny, screwdriver, craft paper, and more. Once the motor is wired up to the devices, it makes the windmill and elevator function, as well as lights up the lamp! This is a great set for STEM skills, including hands-on problem solving, spatial and fine motor skills, self-confidence, and creativity. This set requires 4 AAA batteries to power the motor.
Below are the best STEM related dolls I could find.
GoldieBlox Zipline and Ruby Rails Skydive Action Figures (6-10 years)
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GoldieBlox Zipline Action Figure
With this construction kit, kids can learn how to build Goldie a 13' zipline and send her soaring! This Goldie is more than just a doll. Her shoulders, hips, knees and joints are articulated, and her specially designed hands and feet are designed for action! Setting up this zipline and launching Goldie uses spatial skills, basic engineering principles, and confidence in problem solving.
GoldieBlox Ruby Rails Skydive Action Figure
Meet Goldie Blox's best friend, Ruby, who is ready for a skydiving adventure! She has fully-articulated joints, hands that grip, and a kit to build her coder backpack and working fabric parachute.
Includes: 1 action figure with fabric parachutes, 3 parachute cords, 1 building charm, 1 rubber band, 2 star stoppers, 2 elbow joint, 1 5-way joint, 1 angle joint, 3 T-joints, 2 spacers, 5 pegs, 1 fabric dress, 1 laptop piece, 1 camera piece. You will have access to dozens of how-to videos at bloxtown.com where you can learn to build even more. This is another toy touted to build spatial skills, engineering principles, and confidence in problem-solving.
Barbie I Can Be Space Explorer
Barbie I Can Be Space Explorer Collection includes blonde Barbie I Can Be Space Explorer Doll and Barbie I Can Be Space Explorer African-American Doll.
Girls can discover the role of a space explorer with this doll - always a pioneer, Barbie is on a mission to Mars. This time Barbie's adventure is out of this world!
Each is sold separately. Dolls cannot stand alone.
Alternately, the Mattel Barbie I Can Be Astronaut Outfit is available if you already have a Barbie doll. As you can see in the picture to the left, the astronaut suit is a different style than the one that come with the Space Explorer Barbies.
Barbie Careers Scientist (3-10 years)
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Barbie now features a scientist collection which includes blonde
Barbie Careers Scientist Doll and Barbie Careers Scientist African-American Doll. Barbie Careers Scientist doll is ready to achieve her dreams of scientific success! Dressed in a white lab coat and safety goggles, Barbie Careers Scientist doll is ready for the research lab with a microscope in hand to make a big discovery!
Each is sold separately. Dolls cannot stand alone.
Barbie Careers Eye Doctor (3-10 years)
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Eye Doctor is now in Barbie's career lineup. Barbie Careers Eye Doctor Playset and Barbie Careers Eye Doctor African-American Doll and Playset are available. The Barbie Careers Eye Doctor set brings everything info focus with a special examination chair and eye chart. Eye Doctor Barbie doll can start her workday with the adorable toddler included with the set. Place the patient in the special chair to start -- it's designed to keep her snug for the eye exam but also has signature style with silvery and blue accents and a swinging arm that holds the vision station. Barbie can check her patient’s eyes with the tool that fits on her hand, then have her read the stand-up eye chart that doubles as a display case. If Barbie prescribes glasses, there are four fun pairs for options, from glam heart-shaped frames to modern black frames. Barbie is seeing clearly in glasses of her own that complement her fabulous outfit: a blue printed skirt, black top, black heels and white doctor’s coat. Girls will love exploring the world of optometry with this eye-opening set!
Each is sold separately. Dolls cannot stand alone. Colors and decorations may vary.
Barbie Careers Nurse (3-10 years)
Barbie Careers Zookeeper (3-10 years)
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For those who love animals, and may be considering studying zoology, these dolls come with baby animals. Barbie Careers Zookeeper Doll and Playset comes with one Barbie doll as a veterinarian, with examination table, adorable animals, and themed accessories (like a stethoscope).
Mattel Year 2012 Barbie "I Can Be" Series 12 Inch Doll Set - Zoo Keeper NIKKI (X9080) with Pink Tops, Long Sleeve Cropped Jacket, Brown Denim Pants and Boots Plus Baby Monkey and Tiger Cub Figure
Includes: Zoo Keeper NIKKI (X9080) with Pink Tops, Long Sleeve Cropped Jacket, Brown Denim Pants and Boots Plus Baby Monkey and Tiger Cub Figure.
Each sold separately. Dolls cannot stand alone.
Barbie Careers Ocean Treasure Explorer (3-10 years)
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With Barbie I Can Be Ocean Treasure Explorer Doll Playset,
girls can play out the role of Ocean Treasure Explorer. Barbie is ready to swim the depths of the sea to capture history and its bounty. The coral reef can be set up on its own or attached to a wall using the suction cups to allow water play. The Barbie doll also features color-change transformation in her hair and on turtle's shell with different temperatures of water.
Set includes Barbie Doll, coral reef, sea horse, octopus, turtle, treasure chest, scuba gear, and much more.
Project Mc2 Dolls with Experiments (6-9 years)
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Project Mc2 Doll with Experiment- Adrienne's Volcano
Now you can perform an experiment at home with Adrienne Attoms, Project Mc2's resident culinary chemist (yes, it's a thing!). Create a volcano eruption just using safe household ingredients. 'Lava' will spurt out of the mouth of the mini volcano with help of a little vinegar, baking soda and dish soap. The baking soda, which acts as a base, neutralizes the acid in the vinegar. Together, there is a release of carbon dioxide gas, which causes the fizzing action in your volcano. - Accessories for the doll include: her glasses, lab beaker flask, comb and doll stand. - Also includes a fun science activity: 3" volcano and pipette dropper to experiment again and again.
Project Mc2 Doll with Experiment- Bryden's Glow Stick
Perform a real science experiment by making your own glow stick necklace with Project Mc2, Bryden Bandweth doll.
Use safe household ingredients to complete the experiment.
Includes a fun science activity: glow stick pendant with UV light and necklace cord to experiment again and again.
(Tonic water with quinine is needed for her experiment.)
Project Mc2 Doll with Experiment- McKeyla's Lava Light
Perform a real science experiment by building your own lava lamp with Project Mc2, McKeyla McAlister doll.
Use household ingredients to complete the experiment.
Includes a fun science activity: 5-inch lava light with LED light to experiment again and again.
Lottie Robot Girl Doll (3+ years)
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Lottie Robot Girl Doll
While there are no direct STEM connections, other than "robot" in her name, a cool atom design on the front of her jacket, and the big-rimmed glasses, Lottie has lots of appeal. Lottie is a wholesome, age appropriate, fashion doll, who is perfect because "she's just like me."
A positive, healthy role model; she doesn't wear makeup, jewelry, heels or suggestive clothing, she's the girl next door; cute, fun and adventurous.
Lottie's long flowing hair is silky smooth, comb-able and resists tangles.
At 7.5 inches tall, Lottie has movable arms, bendable knees and can stand on her own two feet (a useful skills for all girls big and small).
Science Kits for Girls
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Project Mc2 Ultimate Lab Kit (6-12 years)
The oversized Ultimate Lab Kit allows you to conduct your own experiments at home or on the go, just like the girls from Project Mc2. Kids can play with and store all the fun science pieces included. A small microscope with 4x power is included.
Conduct 15+ different experiments from the included booklet or create some of your own!
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GoldieBlox and The Builder's Survival Kit (7-12 years)
GoldieBlox and the Builder's Survival Kit is the ultimate expansion pack for the most adventurous innovator! With more than 190 pieces, this Kit offers hours of fun and endless possibilities. Goldie's Field Notes (included in the Builder's Survival Kit), offers kids a wide-eyed perspective of Goldie's world and secret inventions. Kids develop spatial skills through basic engineering principles while building their reading skills and confidence in problem solving.
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Sophisticated Science Perfume Science (10+ years)
Explore the physiology of smell.
Play games with smell and taste.
Discover the history of perfumes.
Extract fragrances from plants.
--This item is not for sale in Catalina Island.
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Yellow Scope Foundation Chemistry Kit (8-10 years)
This kit builds confidence in science during the time when interest in STEM subjects is most vulnerable. Each kit contains over 20 items, including real lab equipment and enough chemical reagents for many hours of fun. The lab notebook outlines 19 different fun and surprising experiments, and girls have plenty of opportunity (and reagents!) to design their own experiments. Key scientific concepts: molecules and molecular motion, chemical reactions, temperature in chemistry.
A Parents' Choice GOLD Award Winner, makes a great STEM gift, and aligns with Next Generation Science Standards.
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Nancy B. Stir-it-up Chemistry Set (8+ years)
Perform super-cool science experiments in your own kitchen!
Extinguish a flame by pouring an invisible gas on it; make your own bubbling 'lava' in a bottle; cause chemicals to change color - and more - all while learning basic chemical principals.
22-Page activity journal and super cool scientific tools encourage kids to pursue their natural love of science!
Set of 11 reusable chemistry tools includes beaker, 4 test tubes and rack, graduated cylinder, lab glasses, dropper, funnel, and stirring rod. Cook up some cool chemistry experiments in your kitchen with the Nancy B. Chemistry Set! Non-consumable, basic chemistry set enables junior chemists to safely explore simple science principles. Journal is filled with experiments utilizing common household ingredients PLUS opportunities for young scientists to write, draw, and think about their discoveries. Perfect for STEM learning.
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Nancy B's Science Club Nature Press with Year Long Tree Journal (8-12 years)
Go green with this science set, perfect for budding botanists! Adopt a tree and track it for a year; press leaves and flower petals; and complete amazing outdoor art and science activities!
22-Page activity journal and super cool scientific tool encourages kids to pursue their natural love of science!
Includes a nature press, tweezers, and leaf-shaped craft punch, as well as a 22-page journal with science and art activities for every season.
Nancy B's Black Light Illuminator & Nature's Mysteries Journal (8-12 years)
Become a secret science sleuth with this mysterious black light activity set! Find and observe rocks, insects, and flowers that glow under black light; make gelatin that glows; detect counterfeit money; and much more!
22-Page activity journal and super cool scientific tool encourage kids to pursue their natural love of science!
Includes handheld/stand-up black light with 3 LED black lights and textured grippers; invisible ink pen; and 22-page activity journal. Requires 2 AA batteries (not included).
Miscellaneous STEM Toys
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Design and Drill Flower Power Studio (3-8 years)
Brilliance blossoms into hours of kid-powered fun with this colorful DIY design studio! (Psst...this is a great introduction to STEM learning.) Arrange the designer plates and bolts into gorgeous, garden-worthy patterns and designs, and use the kid-friendly power drill to drill them in! It helps to develop hand-eye coordination, matching, patterning, problem-solving & construction skills, and fine motor abilities - and inspires imagination!
Includes: fold-up flower board, power drill, 60 bolts, 6 designer plates, butterfly clasp, Phillips bit, flower bit, and guide with 12 patterns. Requires 3 AA batteries (not included).
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Learning Resources Gears! Gears! Gears! Build and Bloom Flower Garden Building Kit (4+ years)
How can you make two cascading flower streams that are the same height? How can you build horizontally and keep the structure sound? These are all practical engineering problems that children face and solve while letting their creativity shine and building a garden overflowing with beauty. Children can experiment with symmetry, patterns, and choice making. They can see how their design decisions are put into motion with the cause and effect action of manually spinning the gears. Assembling the garden bed in endless combinations, determining how and what to build, constructing, testing, and tweaking are all STEM-related activities. Add the included stickers to the gears, butterflies, and more to showcase your green-thumb talent. And with the design element of this set, arts & design are as much a part of the planning as the science behind it.