When my son is invited to a friend’s birthday party, I always try to get the child a toy that inspire them to be an engineer. I’ve found its pretty easy to find toys for boys that will teach them about engineering, but finding engineering toys for girls is a lot more challenging. Walk down the “pink” aisle in any store, and you find very few building toys, aside from Legos. On the other hand, when you walk down the “boy” toy aisle, it seems like all the toys either teach boys about tools, building, or some kind of physics concept. All of these are critical skills for engineers to have. While I personally was able to eventually learn these concepts during my career, it was frustrating my male co-workers seemed to be much more familiar with manufacturing than I was. As I asked them where they picked it up, most of them said they had known these things since childhood, because of their toys. So I’ve decided to find the best engineering toys for girls available, so this generation of female engineers will not have the steep learning curve I had.
11 Engineering Toys for Girls!
When I was 10, all I wanted to Christmas was a Baby Alive Doll. I mean, her name said it all! She ate like a baby and pooped like a real baby (which now grown up me knows isn’t really that great). I finally got the coveted doll from my grandmother, and immediately started shoveling food into her mouth, and it started coming out the other end as promised. But after about the third day her mouth started moving a little bit slower, and she wouldn’t take the food I was trying to feed her (which I now know is pretty normal for a baby). I took her to my dad, and together we discovered that I was supposed to be flushing the baby out with water after every feeding! And that was my first lesson in piping systems.
The common misconception is that there are very few options for girls when it comes to engineering toys. Boys, on the other hand, have TONS of toys out there that teach them to build, projectile, and problem solve. But I couldn’t help but think that if we looked at girl toys a bit different, we would see that there are options about there that do teach them about engineering. So I went on a quest scouring every toy website and catalogue I could find. Turns out there are several toys that are marketed just for girls that DO teach them about engineering! I’ve created a list for you, starting with my favorite!
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1. Courtney Force Traxxas Rustler: I’ve written several posts of how my husband and I are sharing our experiences as engineers with our son, while playing with his favorite toy; a hobby grade remote control car. I recently found out that Traxxas makes a RC car that looks JUST LIKE the car of a drag racing star, Courtney Force! In 2012 Courtney became the third woman in history to win the IHRA Southern Nationals, and was named the Auto Club of Southern California Road to the Future Award Rookie of the Year! I love that girls can play and learn with the car of a woman who is at the top of a male dominated field like drag racing!
2. Barbie Star Light Adventure Flying RC Hoverboard Doll: Does your daughter LOVE playing with Barbie? My sister did when we were kids (and she’s an engineer). Just like my son playing with his quadcopter, girls can explore lift and forces while playing with the hoverboard! Early exposure to these concepts is key. I don’t think its entirely necessary for kids to understand the details behind the concepts they’re exploring. Through play the concepts will become familiar, and when they are taught the details later, they have something tangible to relate the concepts to.
3. Project Mc2 Spa Kit: Based on a Netflix original series, Project Mc2 kits explore many engineering concepts. Do you know who comes up the latest lip gloss shade or blush? Chemical Engineers! With the the Project Mc2 kit, girls can explore chemical engineering by making their own lip gloss, soap, and lotion. Or learn about circuits with Project Mc2 Circuit Beats by making a light up picture frame. I love how these projects are geared towards girls’ natural abilities to be creative!
4. GoldieBlox Kits: Since 2012, GoldieBlox has become synonymous with Engineering Toys for Girls. Originally I thought they were just construction kits for girls, but as I looked into the kits more, I fell in love! Each kit not only introduces girls to engineering drawings, but also exposes her to different machine elements that are used over and over again in manufacturing. GoldieBlox and the Dunk Tank introduces the concepts of hinges and levers. GoldieBlox and The Spinning Machine teaches girls about belt drive, a concept used in a lot of high speed manufacturing facilities (and the diaper factory I worked in!). GoldieBlox Craft-Struction Box is full of simple machines to build and explore various engineering concepts, like propulsion, aerodynamics, centripetal force, spring energy, and center of mass. Looks like I’ve found Christmas gift for all my nieces!
5.GoldieBlox Invention Mansion: Ok. So I know I’ve already covered GoldieBlox toys, but I just had to separate this one out on its own. What little girl doesn’t want a HUGE doll house to play with? My sister and I had a big doll house we played with together for hours. But what I love about this doll house is you can change it, upgrade it, and modify it! And its not a typical house either. This house has a zip line, trap door, and bridge. Plus there are a ton of videos online to help little engineers brainstorms ideas! I sooo wish they had this “doll” house when I was a little girl.
6. Roominate Building Toy for Girls: Roominate was created by Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen while they were both pursuing a masters degree in engineering. First girls will enjoying building fun structures like a ferris wheel or townhome. Then they can add movement and lights to the structure! My favorite two kits (Roominate Townhouse Building Kit and Roominate Amusement Park) introduce girls to simple circuits by including small motors and light kits. The best part is the motors and lights can be remotely controlled from a smart phone!
7. Blink Blink: Blink Blink combines girls’ love of crafting with circuits! Create a light up scarf or leggings. Send a light up card or origami animal to a friend. By combining crafting with simple electrical engineering concepts is a genius way to gain early technical experience!
I truly believe early exposure to engineering concepts reduces intimidation to these same subjects later in life. Each one of these toys allows girls to explore different engineering concepts, just like when I learned about chemical reactions with my Easy-Bake Oven. Which one of these super fun toys is your favorite?
For other Engineering toys, see my other posts!
An Explosive View of a Dinosaur
Toys that Teach Engineering
Teach your kid to be a Materials Engineer!
Tinker Crate: Circuits and Optics
Tinker Crate: Exploring Polymers
Teach Your Kid to be a Reliability Engineer!
Reverse Engineering a Fidget Spinner
Teach your kid about Biomechanical Engineering!
The Time my Son Out-Engineered me!
Teach your child Newton’s First Law of Motion
Circular Motion with Star Wars
Teach Your Kid to be a Mechanical Engineer!