Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Marie Curie Prepares to Throw Down with Barbie

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Marie Curie Prepares to Throw Down with Barbie

Article excerpt

The disruption in the pink aisle is about become an all-out revolution.

A newly minted female engineer and one in the making have developed a successor to last season's groundbreaking GoldieBlox, the engineering kits geared at girls.

Supriya Hobbs and Janna Eaves, both 21, met through the engineering program at the University of Illinois. They have come up with a line of dolls that they hope will change the way girls think about pretend play and, more importantly, their place in the world.

Their Miss Possible line of dolls combines the appeal of American Girl with the skill development of GoldieBlox.

These young women have left Barbie so far behind.

The first doll will be the childhood version of Marie Curie, the Nobel Prize-winning chemist and physicist whose research led to breakthroughs on radioactivity. The second in the production line would be Bessie Coleman, the first African-American female aviator and first American to hold an international pilot's license. The third woman they've chosen in their doll line-up is Ada Lovelace, known as the world's first computer programmer.

Each doll will come with a smartphone app with a set of experiments and activities the child can do in the spirit of the doll's namesake. The Marie Curie app will have instructions on making a compass, creating a chemical reaction with Elmer's glue and experimenting with magnetism. It's like a digital science kit with materials typically found in the house. The app also delves into the biography of the woman.

Toys can be powerful tools, letting children imagine a narrative of what's possible in their own lives. But they have become increasingly gendered, pink, superficial and sexualized, since we were children.

Would you rather have your daughter imagine she's a princess who finds her Prince Charming or a pioneer who finds a cure for cancer?

"There's something really powerful of having a real person behind it," Hobbs said. "This is one woman. This is the story of her life."

They are seeking crowdfunding through Indiegogo.com and will let their financial backers pick which real-life female hero to immortalize in doll form after Lovelace. They decided on a childhood representation of these women because they wanted the focus to be on the extraordinary accomplishments, not on the depiction of the body. …

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