She is changing the way girls play

Posted Tuesday, December 11, 2012 at 10:19 AM

Director, EngineerGirl, National Academy of Engineering

"Debbie Sterlings is using her background in engineering to fight the stereotypes associated with girls and building."

She is changing the way girls play

PostedTuesday, December 11, 2012 at 10:34 AM

She is changing the way girls play

Debbie Sterling is a Stanford-trained engineer. Like many young girls she once thought engineering was intimidating and nerdy and didn’t know much about it. She later learned how vital and exciting an engineering career can be. But when she realized that only 11% of engineers are women and that girls as young as 8 years old already begin losing interest in important subjects like math and science she set out to use her engineering skills to make a difference.

A year ago, I became obsessed with the design challenge of getting girls interested in engineering. I quite my job to pursue this passion full-time. I started researching gender differences in cognitive development and children's play patterns. I went to toy stores, bought existing construction sets and observed girls playing with them to see how they could be improved. In this research process, I had an "aha moment": girls loved reading, stories and characters. So I decided to write and illustrate stories about a girl engineer named Goldie who loves to build. I prototyped a construction set using thread spools, wooden dowels and ribbon to accompany the stories. I tested the prototype on over 100 kids, constantly making improvements as I learned how they liked to play. This is how I created GoldieBlox.

Debbie used the Kickstarter website to raise money to launch her new toy company,  (See the launch video below.)  All of her hard work paid off when she exceeded her initial funding goal in only two weeks! The GoldieBlox construction set generated so much excitement that she is now working on two new sets to expand the series.

Do you think you might have what it takes to change the way people think about something that you are passionate about? Debbie’s advice is to follow your passions wherever they may lead because passionate engineers armed with the right skills are the people who will shape the future.



WTOP radio spot about GoldieBlox