While Lego was putting the finishing touches on its Lego Friends collection — the pink and purple hair salons kits aimed at girls — three women with degrees in math and the sciences were creating actually interesting construction kits aimed at girls.
Their soon-to-be-launched product, Roominate, is the dollhouse kit of every little girl’s dream (or, at least, many, many little girls). Roominate combines construction, DIY assembly and electronics and is Wired Magazine’s featured Kickstarter project this week.
A pre-fab dollhouse is the brainchild of Bettina Chen, Alice Brooks and Jennifer Kessler, three women who noticed that their fellow female math and science classmates began to dwindle the higher the course number, according to an article in Wired. Chen told the magazine that they realized their own childhood experiences were a part of what attracted them to science and math — so they decided to start from there.
Unlike Lego, which tried to “girlify” an already girl-friendly toy, this brainy trio picked a toy and added engineering and wiring components to it. The result? Genius really. Check it out [from Wired]:
Each Roominate room kit is made up of laser-cut wooden parts for walls and furniture, some electronics parts to bring it to life, and decoration bits to enable interior design. The rooms are stackable and the parts are modular, allowing greater and greater customization, the more you have. The idea is that as kids play with the sets they’ll act as an entry point to more interest in STEM skills.
The electronics needed particular attention. The final design uses single molex connectors, which insulate both the wires and the connections, “completely protecting little fingers from touching any actual wires,” says Chen. They similarly designed their circuits to make shorting the battery impossible.
The walls and furniture were also carefully deliberated. They are working on minimizing the number of different shapes needed to create the furniture and walls. The fewer types of parts needed in a kit, the more modular it will be, allowing kids more options for customization. “It is important to us that the design is as modular and flexible as possible,” says Kessler.
So much fun.
The kits aren’t yet available for purchase but they’ve been tested many times by girls 6 to 10 and improved based on the feedback. The team is trying to raise money through Kickstarter so that they can buy a laser cutter, which would allow them bypass the expense of paying for the wood to be cut and, therefore, offer the kits to their Kickstarter supporters at cost.
How much do you want one of these?