With over 86% of the world’s existing engineers being male, it might appear that inspiring a new generation of female engineers is an uphill battle. Thanks to recent efforts to make STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) a more appealing career field for girls however, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Already, we’ve seen an impressive range of toys, apps and online learning tools that are aimed at encouraging young girls to pursue engineering or other STEM-based skills – and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.
Now, an update to an award-winning line of wired building systems designed to inspire girls in STEM just might be the most impressive learning tool we’ve seen yet.
Founded while simultaneously pursuing their master’s engineering program at Stanford, Roominate 2.0 creators Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen saw an opportunity to teach girls more hands-on skills that existing girl-centric learning toys didn’t offer – such as combining design, engineering and programming to create everything from a light-up Golden Gate Bridge or an elevator to a car wash with spinning brushes. Additionally, they wanted to focus on four core elements that, from their own experience, would help create a foundation for further pursuing STEM-based skills in the future: hands-on problem solving, spatial and fine motor skills, circuitry and self-confidence.
Back in 2012, the two found success with their original Roominate design, however they have spent the past three years gathering feedback to create an ever better product with more flexibility and options for creativity. The resulting Roominate 2.0 is a much more polished product that even has billionaire investor Mark Cuban excited; the outspoken Shark Tank host has invested in the company and as a part of his structured deal with Brooks and Chen, wants his daughters to work at the company:
Currently, Brooks and Chen are seeking funding on Kickstarter to use towards building the tooling for their new circuits system for their new rPower feature – which allows for users to plug in multiple circuits for a variety of functions ranging from powering motors to turning lights on or off.
“We’ve already started tooling for rPower,” says the duo on their Kickstarter page. “We hope to get your support on Kickstarter so that we can launch tooling for our new circuits system earlier than otherwise possible … we’ve gained 3 years of experience since our first Kickstarter campaign. We delivered on our first campaign within our target of 6 months and have gained really valuable experience manufacturing at scale since then.”
For those that might know of a young engineer in the making, Brooks and Chen are expecting to fulfill all orders by November of this year … meaning that this just might be the perfect holiday gift that keeps on giving. The basic ‘Circuit Builder’ pack starts at just $35 and includes a motor, wire, a battery pack and an LED.