Students Weigh in on Marketing Science to Girls
In February I started a discussion about how we might interest more girls in science. Even though I was interested in the broader view, the discussion seemed to focus mostly on whether a variety of colored parts would appeal to girls. A class of teenagers recently weighed in on the subject and you might find their extensive comments interesting. It sounds like the boys are the ones most interested in some color variety! Check out their comments
The teacher and the parents should be pleased with such skill.
I tend to think that Lego has done this (limiting their market) to themselves with the prominence of the Bionicles and Star Wars and other model kits. I adored my Lego when I was growing up, but it was just plain building Lego that all kids played with.
To encourage girls to partipate in my robotics club, I have to overcome their preconceptions about Lego, not their preconceptions about science.
Such a combination will help students with artistic interests to become more interested in science, and vice versa. Hence, if a girl likes art, she would also be exposed to the science, and may like it. I do not think LEGO can be used singled out, but in conjunction with other materials as paper, pipe cleaners, etc. Cricket sets
do just this, and I think that the LEGO used in this context is not considered to be for boys only. A lot of the Cricket creations
use art and science. Teachers using LEGO and robotics in the classroom should take a similar approach, if they would like more girls to be interested and involved.
Look at the Wellesley College “Robotics Design Studio” course’s 2007 gallery of projects; it seems that all of these creations were made by female students. This course applies science and art together using LEGO and other materials.
I just asked my wife, and she says that the LEGO Co. showing advertisements with girls AND boys building with LEGO together could help over come preconceptions of LEGO being only a "boy's toy".
One thing LEGO should NOT do is they should not create a "girly" version of anything. To be fair, right now, Mindstorms Education pages do have girls pictured, but it took some digging for me to find those. The retail advertising and the current Brickmaster Magazine are laden with testosterone. In the magazine, the themes are all dark...sinister. Frankly, I wouldn't buy that for my three sons, so their marketing is counter-productive with this parent---and with any other parent who objects to the violent and sinister nature of so many games and television programs these days.
Interesting that you should mention DaVinci,as sometime soon Apress will be releasing a book by Matthias Paul Scholtz full of NXT models based on DaVinci's work. I'm sure Matthias would love to tell you more about it!