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Goldie Blox
November 15, 2012 6:27 PM   Subscribe

Move over Barbie, Goldie Blox is coming to town. A kickstarter-funded construction toy + book series targeting at 5 to 9 year-old girls.
posted by gruchall (35 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

 
I funded this and am looking forward to getting the kit in the mail and playing it with my daughter. I thought for some reason you built circuits on that board, I didn't know it was just ribbons and plastic things, but I'm hopeful it'll be fun to play and problem solve for my daughter.
posted by mathowie at 7:15 PM on November 15, 2012


So, why does it still have to be all pastel colors and full of flowers?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:32 PM on November 15, 2012 [14 favorites]


For those looking for actual circuitry (mathowie), you might like the Snap Circuits SC-300. I haven't used it myself, but it gets stellar reviews.

As to the Goldie Blox toy, I'd be curious about why this has absolutely exploded in mentions on social media in the last few days. I'm not trying to be all "I knew it before it was big" — I just saw the original Kickstarter fund. But for some reason I'm seeing it everywhere. Did they do some big media push? Or is this just a natural "people are gearing up for Christmas and talking about a new toy" thing?
posted by Alt F4 at 7:48 PM on November 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, why does it still have to be all pastel colors and full of flowers?

Because no matter how many times you tell a 5-year-old girl cool toys don't have to be pink, she will still want it in pink. I'm not excusing all the shitty pink toys in existence (I'm looking at you Bratz dolls) I'm just saying the pink is here to stay for the near future.
posted by fiercekitten at 7:55 PM on November 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


So, why does it still have to be all pastel colors and full of flowers?

So, I am the parent of a 6 year old girl (and a younger boy). I am a scientist (well, social scientist, but I do math and stuff) and a geek, and some of my research touches on the interactions between play and learning. So, with this background, a common shock to me and all my fellow liberal psychologist and sociologist colleagues is how gendered kids are. A friend, a prominent social psychologist, described how she found her 2 year old daughter playing with the trucks and cars they had around the house because of her older sons. She was happy her daughter was enjoying playing with "boy stuff," then she saw that her kid was playing house with the cars - the truck was the Daddy, the sports car the Mommy, and so on - she went and got her daughter a set of dolls.

I can't tell you how much of the gendering is culture, and how much is innate, but it happens fast and often. In many cases, girls do not like the same stuff as a boys, in general. My daughter is not a fan of princesses, but she is head over heels for My Little Pony, and loves ribbons and pastels. My son is all about sharks and dinosaurs. They are both into science and engineering, but in different ways. We have played with the Snap Circuits kits, but I have a feeling that Goldie Box may be an even better option.

Also, other good science things for girls in this age range:
For iPad: Bobo and Light, Tick Bait, and, strangely, Scribblenauts (problem solving plus reading fun!). As far as science kits, the Snap Circuits stuff is cool, as are Magic School Bus kits, and the Wild Science Spa stuff.

Of course, all kids are different. Your mileage may vary, and your kid may identify differently. I was just surprised at home much pink+little girls is a real thing.
posted by blahblahblah at 7:57 PM on November 15, 2012 [16 favorites]


So, why does it still have to be all pastel colors and full of flowers?

Because there are parents out there who will only buy their daughters pink things from day 1. I know a few. So if making blocks pink increases the chances of one of these little princesses getting their hands on blocks along with dolls and tiaras and little girl high heels, I'm all for it.
posted by kimberussell at 8:06 PM on November 15, 2012


I'd be curious about why this has absolutely exploded in mentions on social media in the last few days

I think it debuted on some new social site called upvote or something like that. Everyone was pointing to that instead of the youtube video or the kickstarter page. I have a feeling it's like when a new music site launches and a six-month old song gets popular as a result.
posted by mathowie at 9:14 PM on November 15, 2012


Upworthy, mathowie, it's a weird kinda of social-justice Ebaums World. I think it's been previously here, in part due to their "not *ist" captchas.

Curious about the project and product, especially some of her initial aasumptions, and the video is in some ways highly problematic, but it's worth everything just for that one little girl, roaring with genuine hacker glee WE DID IT! DADDY, YOU GOTTA COME SEE THIS!!
posted by Iteki at 9:31 PM on November 15, 2012


I have been seeing this all over my Facebook newsfeed and was wondering if it would show up here. I am still a little curious about what exactly it entails. It seems like each book guides you through one specific project - does it also suggest ideas for other ways you might configure the pieces? It seems cool but less open-ended and creativity-inspiring than something like Knex or Tinkertoys - which I guess also did come with instruction booklets on how to build specific things, but there was waaaay more than one possible things you could build with a single kit, and also it was just as likely that you would toss the instructions and build whatever crazy thing you wanted.
posted by naoko at 9:49 PM on November 15, 2012


So, why does it still have to be all pastel colors and full of flowers?

Because! that's why.

If science and engineering had been more like this when I was a kid, I would be the Elton John of Carl Sagans.
posted by Mike Mongo at 10:01 PM on November 15, 2012 [4 favorites]


Of course, all kids are different. Your mileage may vary, and your kid may identify differently. I was just surprised at home much pink+little girls is a real thing.

Father of a 6-year-old girl here. Yup. It's a thing.
posted by robla at 10:32 PM on November 15, 2012


Because there are parents out there who will only buy their daughters pink things from day 1.

Also relatives who refuse to buy non-pink gifts for little girls, even if they ask for science kits. This is one of the reasons I quit working at the kid's bookstore, there's only so much of that bullshit you can take in one holiday season.
posted by NoraReed at 11:03 PM on November 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


I like this project a lot and I'd probably buy it for a little girl (or boy!) of the appropriate age, but I wonder whether there's also any effort in the other direction: getting boys to play with traditionally girly toys so that they learn people skills, family skills, loving rather than competing. If the type of toys they play with can significantly change the way kids grow up (the apparent premise of Goldie Blocks), I'm betting that boys have a lot more potential for improvement as human beings, and that the world needs boys playing with Ken and Barbie and doll houses and baby dolls more than it needs girls playing with machines.
posted by pracowity at 12:02 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm another parent of a little girl who went through an intense pink/flowery/girly phase in her preschool years (only slightly tapering off now as she enters kindergarten). As a baby and toddler we had dressed her in a wide variety of mostly "gender-neutral" clothing styles and colors, but it was like she woke up one day after turning three and decided she would wear only the pink and purple clothes for the next two years. A large portion (but not all) of her preschool classmates went through the same phase, and many of their parents similarly insist they did nothing to encourage it.

Apparently gender is one of the things kids are working on figuring out about the world at that age, just as they learn to walk or talk at specific ages. (For that matter, a clear sense of gender is a prerequisite for speaking most languages correctly.) Sometimes that translates into a very strong focus on incorporating gender into their own identity and behavior, or on figuring out what "rules" gender is supposed to follow.

Anyway, I have mixed feelings about gender-specific toys like these, but I can see where the demand comes from. For those five-year-olds who for whatever reason see everything as gendered, it probably helps a lot to have a wider variety of toys available on both sides of their imagined gender boundaries. But I do worry about it reinforcing those boundaries at the same time, which could be an unfortunate side-effect for some kids.
posted by mbrubeck at 3:39 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh, and my six-year-old girl and I have had fun making electronics with the Snap Circuits set linked above. Though the snaps are sometimes physically too hard for a six-year-old to push together so I need to do a lot of the assembly for her.
posted by mbrubeck at 3:45 AM on November 16, 2012


you know, when it comes to toys, race is one of those things that is just inescapable. i immediately read this "construction kit" as being "white". and the fact that it's an "engineering toy" that has an asian girl as their marketing face (because, you know, as model minority they are just so awesome with math & stuff) doesn't help either.

*sigh*
posted by liza at 4:18 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


So, why does it still have to be all pastel colors and full of flowers?

My wife and I were never into the gendered color thing, at all. We really like the Melissa and Doug and Circo preschool toys, which tend to have interesting rather than blue/pink gendered color schemes. We'd dress our daughter in monkey and dinosaur-themed clothes just as often as in butterfly or flower themed clothes.

Now that she's three, and can make decisions on how to dress herself, our little girl refuses to leave the house without at least one pink article of clothing, more if she can talk us into it, and everything else has to be purple.

I dunno if she picked it up at daycare or if it's radio waves broadcast into her skull by the CIA, but she absolutely will play more with what she considers "girl stuff" - usually things that are colored pastel and pink and purple and are full of flowers.

Sometimes Mohammed has to go to the mountain, you know?
posted by Slap*Happy at 4:32 AM on November 16, 2012


Because no matter how many times you tell a 5-year-old girl cool toys don't have to be pink, she will still want it in pink.

My five-year-old girl told me the other day that she's "just not all that into princesses anymore." When asked to pick out a color for a new coat, she picked blue.

Kids are as different and varied as adults.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 4:45 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


My four-year-old daughter is definitely in the driving seat when it comes to her gendered behavior choices. She's in full-on princess mode at the moment. My younger sister went through a phase like this too, and grew into an amazing woman (who happens to be a scientist with a keen sense of personal style).

So, while the Free-to-Be-You-and-Me-indoctrinated kid in me bristles at my daughter's heteronormative and stereotype-reinforcing gendered play, I take solace in two facts: (1) she will eventually grow out of it, and (2) right now, she absolutely loves it. If something gives her this much joy, I can't argue with that.
posted by otherthings_ at 5:35 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


We gender children from birth. We pick up one gender more than the other, let one gender cry longer, talk to one gender more and issue more commands to the other. There is a tonne of this stuff, and a tonne of research about it in Early Childhood Education and sociology academia. Given that, the idea that you need to reach girls differently and make different tools to appeal to them should not be so hard to swallow.

So, why does it still have to be all pastel colors and full of flowers?

Actually, the only pink piece I can see in the video is the ribbon. The star-shaped base is purple, and the spindles are yellow. The pegs you barely see inside the spindles are maybe also pink? I dunno where you're getting flowers from; the ribbon has tools or building components on it.

Also, I don't want to get all radical feminist here, but anyone who thinks the default Lego block colors are not even mildly gendered needs to re-examine their shit.

does it also suggest ideas for other ways you might configure the pieces?

There are three planned kits and all of the pieces work together. You can build new and more elaborate objects by combining them.

It seems cool but less open-ended and creativity-inspiring than something like Knex or Tinkertoys - which I guess also did come with instruction booklets on how to build specific things, but there was waaaay more than one possible things you could build with a single kit, and also it was just as likely that you would toss the instructions and build whatever crazy thing you wanted.

Again, missing the point. Boys and girls develop differently. Boys in this age range have more advanced spatial awareness; girls have more advanced verbal skills. Goldie Blox is intended to work with that, using story, character figures and narrative to encourage girls to build. We've had Lego since 1949, and still only 11% of engineers are women. Clearly, "give girls Lego" isn't sufficient to their needs.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:56 AM on November 16, 2012 [14 favorites]


Regarding pink, at two and a half my daughter began protesting anytime we attempted to dress her in green or blue, "Stop! You're turning me into a boy!" This despite having very few outside influences beyond her three caregivers (mom, dad and grandma) who typically dress gender neutral.
posted by gruchall at 6:46 AM on November 16, 2012


Let me know when the ribbon cuts off the Disney princesses' heads. That would be cool.
posted by stormpooper at 6:59 AM on November 16, 2012


YOU KEEP YOUR DIRTY POOPY HANDS OFF PRINCESS LEIAH, STORMPOOPER!
posted by symbioid at 7:14 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


How is this an improvement on lego? How?

Because - to me - a dumbed down and more restrictive version (they can only make contractions shown in the story) of lego, that is also gender locked (PINK!) is, uhm not an improvement.

My niece is nine, has never shown any interest in pink things, but try to take away her lego and you might just loose a digit.

Her favourite things to build are vehicles, any and all kinds of vehicles.
posted by Faintdreams at 7:53 AM on November 16, 2012


Dang, I wish I had a little girl to buy for right now.
posted by Currer Belfry at 8:18 AM on November 16, 2012


Faintdreams, I share your concern with the toy as presented on the site. There's only one construction on offer and no hint you can remix and make things your own way. That fixed length ribbon may be particularly limiting. The video on the main site is also a bummer; it's like 10 seconds of the toy and 30 seconds pictures of smiling little girls. Maybe that's the way to market to parents, I have no idea, but I'd like to think the toy was the important product here.

The kickstarter pages and video look more fun. There's other configurations of the toy and it all looks a little spindly and ad hoc, like maybe it could easily be repurposed. I hope so. It's a brand new product, naturally what they're showing initially is limited. I hope it's a success, I love what they're trying to do.
posted by Nelson at 8:32 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's easy, when well-meaning people are trying to entice girls towards science and engineer-y things, to knee-jerk against any sort of traditional feminine influence. Point towards the exceptional girls and women who are already participating - they like their LEGO and don't need makeup or pink or flowers, for example. They're already having their needs met by what is out there. But toys like this, which may appeal to a different range of girls who are not having their needs met by the existing toys. It's just widening the playing field and approaching a different set of people. And I think it's awesome!
posted by ChuraChura at 8:33 AM on November 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


There's also a distinction between something like this - expanding the market, as it were, of girls who might think building things is awesome, and then move on to more sophisticated and open-ended engineering and science projects - and something like the Science! It's a Girl Thing! debacle which seemed to be more interested in redefining who women and girls in science were rather than approaching a new group of people while maintaining those already invested.
posted by ChuraChura at 8:39 AM on November 16, 2012


It's a fair point that a lot of little girls go through A Pink Phase, and that sometimes you gotta go with the Princess Drag to get your kid to think outside the box.

However, I think I'd be more inclined to paint a set of old-school Tinkertoys all pink and purple and sparkly instead. A bit more flexibility, you know?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:41 AM on November 16, 2012


Again, missing the point. Boys and girls develop differently. Boys in this age range have more advanced spatial awareness; girls have more advanced verbal skills. Goldie Blox is intended to work with that, using story, character figures and narrative to encourage girls to build. We've had Lego since 1949, and still only 11% of engineers are women. Clearly, "give girls Lego" isn't sufficient to their needs.

I suppose that's reasonable. It just doesn't really match my personal experience (and yes I know, plural of anecdote is not data). I had loads of Lego and Knex and Tinkertoys and that sort of thing and I loved them and could play with them for hours and I also LOVED science as a kid. I still remember asking my parents for a chemistry set (which never materialized, boo), and how amazing it was when we got to build rockets in my 5th grade science class. I went through a phase where I wanted to be an astronaut SO BAD. My interest in science (and math) started waning in middle school and had pretty much disappeared by high school (my engineer boyfriend doesn't understand how I was even allowed to graduate high school and college without ever taking calculus or physics, but I did it). I double majored in social sciences and I have a masters degree - I'm not a totally stupid person. But I can't tell you really, really basic things about science, despite having loved science as a kid in the 5-9 age range being targeted here. It was more like 11-14 where I got totally uninterested, and I'm not even sure why. I wonder if I'm alone in this.
posted by naoko at 9:06 AM on November 16, 2012


As the sort of girl who grew up with Lego and great math skills and didn't go on to be an engineer, if you think that different toys are the primary problem, you're missing the whole part where people usually decide on careers as adults, not six-year-olds, and there's a lot to NOT be said for going into engineering if you don't feel like being the token girl.

But I think it's a cool idea, nevertheless.
posted by gracedissolved at 9:34 AM on November 16, 2012


Yeah. This is not meant to be a toy for all girls everywhere. It is a way for girls who for whatever reason don't seem to be in to LEGO or Tinker Toys (and especially for those girls who say BUT THAT'S FOR BOYS) to help them develop their spatial awareness and be introduced to a set of skills they might not otherwise get. I see nothing wrong with this, even if it wouldn't have done anything for me when I was a kid.

I funded the original Kickstarter; can't wait for my set so I can get my nieces (all of whom are currently in PINK! phase) building.
posted by olinerd at 10:59 AM on November 16, 2012


I suppose that's reasonable. It just doesn't really match my personal experience (and yes I know, plural of anecdote is not data). I had loads of Lego and Knex and Tinkertoys and that sort of thing and I loved them and could play with them for hours and I also LOVED science as a kid. I still remember asking my parents for a chemistry set (which never materialized, boo), and how amazing it was when we got to build rockets in my 5th grade science class. I went through a phase where I wanted to be an astronaut SO BAD. My interest in science (and math) started waning in middle school and had pretty much disappeared by high school (my engineer boyfriend doesn't understand how I was even allowed to graduate high school and college without ever taking calculus or physics, but I did it). I double majored in social sciences and I have a masters degree - I'm not a totally stupid person. But I can't tell you really, really basic things about science, despite having loved science as a kid in the 5-9 age range being targeted here. It was more like 11-14 where I got totally uninterested, and I'm not even sure why. I wonder if I'm alone in this.

I guess this is sort of the opposite of my experience. I was never much into building toys as a kid. My parents really wanted to encourage that sort of thing and got me Erector sets and Lego sets and so on. I was really into stories and make-believe at that age. I loved writing and playing with paper dolls. I had one paper doll especially that I loved that I put into all manner of different outfits. I loved dressing in frilly outfits. At one point I refused to wear anything that was not a dress, not even jeans. Yet as I grew older I became more into math and eventually started to think math was really beautiful. I got an engineering degree and am now doing my PhD in computational biology. I think I would have probably loved these as a kid. I think what she's trying to show here is that stereotypically girly things like storytelling and make-believe and pretty things don't have to be in opposition to making things and constructing things. That's certainly a message that I would have been open to at that age. I think it's important when encouraging little girls to do stereotypically masculine things to not paint stereotypically feminine things as inferior and unfortunately I feel that that is often the approach taken. Honestly, being in a science field doesn't make me any less appreciative of a good work of fiction or a perfectly cut dress, and I'm sure that's true for lots of women out there.
posted by peacheater at 11:04 AM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


a common shock to me and all my fellow liberal psychologist and sociologist colleagues is how gendered kids are

As the parent of both boys and girls, I can not WAIT for science to catch up to this.

Not all girls are the same, nor are all boys. But neither are all girls like all boys, or vice versa. And many differences go in clusters and some of those clusters include gender. There's really no reason to suppose boys and girls are identical mentally than they are physically. After all, the brain is a evolutionarily developed organ just like the rest.

It doesn't have to be an excuse for discrimination against groups or assumptions about individuals. But it does have to be faced.

Anyway, on the toy itself: I think it's a great idea and a good try. But it looks super boring. And I'm not saying that because it's pink. I'm saying that because there's like 3 pieces in each set.
posted by DU at 6:04 PM on November 16, 2012


Again, missing the point. Boys and girls develop differently. Boys in this age range have more advanced spatial awareness; girls have more advanced verbal skills.

There has been a lot of research on "mental rotation" and Stirling even touches upon an aspect of this beyond just boys have better spatial skills. Kids who play with lego etc. have better spatial skills than those who don't. If boys play more with lego and construction toys, it stands to reason that they will do better on the mental rotation test. (I actually did the mental rotation test in Intro Psych in college.)

This is a pretty good survey of the research.

I kind of flinched at "boys have better spatial skills and girls are stronger verbally", but for me the big/new idea was combining a story with the building/problem solving toy.
posted by noether at 6:51 AM on November 19, 2012


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