Toys That Inspired Us to Love Engineering

Over Thanksgiving, we dug up some of pictures of us and our old toys. We wanted to show some of the things that inspired our love of engineering!

Bettina, blocks in both hands, ready to build

bettina_blocks

Robot or doll? Alice doesn’t want to give either toy up

alice_doll_robot

Bettina’s gingerbread house and Lego destroyer go perfectly together

bettina_gingerbread

Alice’s wooden dinosaur, made with her very own saw at age 8. Yes, the legs still move!

alice_dinosaur

Now some of the backstory:
We’re both engineers: Bettina studied Electrical Engineering at Caltech and Alice studied Mechanical Engineering at MIT. Three years ago, we met at Stanford in graduate school. We were both shocked at the dropoff in the number of women in engineering once we got to Stanford and wanted to figure out why there weren’t more women around us.

So we started talking about why we chose engineering. We realized we had something in common: toys inspired both of us!

The things we played with when we were young got us to love engineering before we even knew what the word meant. For Alice, it was her own saw as an 8-year-old, and for Bettina, it was building elaborate Lego creations with her brother.

Two years ago, we started talking to professors, middle school teachers, and parents, and we learned some very interesting things!
• Playing with toys that develop spatial skills leads to higher retention in engineering classes.
• A lot of girls hold back in the classroom when circuits are introduced because they see boys (who’ve played with circuits in their toys at home) getting more excited than them.
• So many parents have been searching for something more enriching for their daughters!

We saw an amazing opportunity to use our engineering skills to design toys that could inspire more girls the same way we were inspired. With Roominate, we’re encouraging:
• Hands-on creativity
• Problem solving
• Spatial skill development
• Self-confidence

Developing these skills early was essential to our success in STEM!

Figuring out all of that was just the beginning. Talking to girls, prototyping toys, and developing Roominate is an even longer story! We’ll write it all down and share it soon.

Have a great weekend!

Thanks for reading,

Alice + Bettina