GoldieBlox™ – Inspiring a Future Generation of Female Engineers

As a Theta Mom® of two, I am always trying to get my hands on innovative toys and the kind of technology that encourages creative thinking and problem solving. I am thrilled when I find products or toys that have been designed to introduce my children to something new – a chance for them to explore different concepts and ideas; the kind of company that is developing toys which provide strong educational value.

As you learned from my last post that Kids are Learning How to Code, it’s no surprise that kids (especially girls) are seriously tapping into their STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills. Well, move over boys. Girls are finally getting the chance to show the world what they’re made of. This has been made possible with the help of strong female leadership, those like the creator of an innovative toy company that is disrupting the pink aisle.

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Meet Debbie Sterling, the founder and CEO of GoldieBlox. Debbie grew up in a small town in Rhode Island and didn’t know about engineering until her senior year of high school. Four years later, she graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and Product Design from Stanford University. However, she was always concerned there were such few women in her program so she decided to do something about it. Debbie started a toy company that introduces girls to engineering at a young age.

Debbie spent a year researching gender differences to develop a construction toy that went deeper than simply changing the color or “making it pink” to appeal to girls like many other toy companies do. She interviewed numerous educators, neuroscientists, parents and STEM experts and also tested her prototype with over one hundred children. She realized that girls love reading and boys love building so she invented construction toys that would contain both of those elements, appealing to girls and making it fun.

Here is a short video of Debbie and her start-up story. If you are a mother of a young girl, you need to watch this video.

GoldieBlox2I began using GoldieBlox with my Kindergartener. I sat with her and we read the Dunk Tank story together. We then looked at the instructions and started to build step-by-step.

My daughter LOVES it. She definitely needed help building the structure, but after we did it several times together, she was confident to begin creating on her own. I saw the joy and excitement that beamed from her each time she placed the tools together to make her creation come to life. I also saw times when she was challenged – when something didn’t fit properly or when she needed to make adjustments. I watched her go back to the instructions to see where she needed to make changes to her design. All of this was happening and as a mother, I couldn’t be more thrilled to introduce my young daughter to the kind of product that fosters a love for science, simple machines, and engineering. She’s already asking what we can build next!

GoldieBlox1Our young girls can be anything they want to be – and they are so much more than a princess as this company proclaims. Like the next mom, I also love pink and all things girlie but I know my daughter has so much more potential than to be another pretty face. Our girls are smart, innovative and strong – and this is the very message I want to instill in my daughter. GoldieBlox helps to cultivate that message. The main goal of this toy company is to get girls thinking and building, giving young inventors the tools they need to create amazing things.

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“In a world where men largely outnumber women in science, technology, engineering and math…and girls lose interest in these subjects as early as age 8, GoldieBlox™ is determined to change the equation. By designing a construction toy from the female perspective, we aim to disrupt the pink aisle and inspire the future generation of female engineers. We believe there are a million girls out there who are engineers. They just might not know it yet. We think GoldieBlox can show them the way.” -GoldieBlox.com 

Need more inspiration? Check this video out for yourself. You’ll see the power of young girls hard at work. This is Your Brain on Engineering:

You can purchase the GoldieBlox Dunk Tank and also shop the full line of GoldieBlox products.  Follow GoldieBlox on Twitter and Facebook to stay updated on the latest GoldieBlox news and information.

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Lastly, don’t ever underestimate the power of girls – they are more than just a princess, they are smart and innovative with the kind of influence to change the world. And I am proud to say I am a mother of one of them.

Theta Mom® abides by word of mouth marketing standards and believes in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. I was provided a GoldieBlox™ Dunk Tank kit for review. However, all opinions expressed are my own and the content of this post was not influenced. 

Kids are Learning How to Code

“I think everybody in this country should learn how to program a computer because it teaches you how to think.” –Steve Jobs

Ever since I started this blog, one of the things I wish I knew how to do was learn how to code. I have seen many of my blogger friends do an amazing job at building their own sites. But, let’s think beyond blogging for a moment – think about how much we utilize technology daily. For many of us, we bank and pay our bills online. We shop online. We communicate online. We conduct business online. Think about the last time you put your mobile device down for more than 24 hours. Pretty impossible, right? That’s because whether you like it or not, rapidly evolving technology is our future. So the real question is, if we are so dependent on technology, how is it that so many of us don’t know how to code?

CODEorg_LogoPerhaps it starts with the fact that for most schools in America, this kind of learning is not being taught in the traditional classroom. When I was in high school, typing was a required course to graduate. In my opinion, the course requirement today should be that every student learns how to program a computer – a skill that is just as important as learning a foreign language these days. Regardless of the career path my children take, one thing is for sure – I will make it my mission that my kids learn how to code.

I was absolutely inspired by this five minute video created by the founders of Code.org, a non-profit dedicated to making computer science programs available in more schools and inspiring a generation of kids to participate in such programs.

“The vision is that every student in every school should have the opportunity to learn computer programming.”—Code.org

I sat down with my son to watch this video and within moments, he too was completely inspired by this mission. At eight years-old, he immediately saw the purpose for why learning to code is important and showed real interest in wanting to try.

Absolutely inspired by this video? Of course you are. Interested in getting your child to think about learning to code? Well, you’re certainly reading the right post.

Meet Tynker.

TynkerCodeTynker is one of the best web-based apps available today that offers interactive courses for children to learn programming at their own pace. Once you register with a simple email address, you’ll have lifetime access – anytime and anywhere to learn these crucial skills. Tynker makes it so easy to learn at home and even provides a full grade based curriculum for schools.

Tynker is a complete learning system with online courses that teach programming and computational thinking to kids of all ages. You don’t need to be an expert programmer to enroll in any of these courses. In fact, they are designed to teach kids at different skill levels and at all ages. You don’t have to have any coding experience to enroll because courses have been designed to motivate and inspire kids to bring their own creative ideas to life.

“Empower the next generation of innovators. What separates those who simply have an idea from those who make their ideas a reality is the ability to program. Kids relish the challenge to become creators.” — Tynker.com

TynkerMy son started the Introduction to Programming course and loves it. The courses are laid out with specific instructions and users are unable to advance to the next lesson until the previous lesson is successfully completed. There is a short quiz after each lesson to assess whether or not the user is ready to move forward. There are times when my son gets frustrated when the code doesn’t work the way he wanted it to, requiring him to go back, find the mistake and make necessary adjustments. As Steve Jobs would say, this is the kind of skill set that’s required to code – critical thinking and problem solving skills.

But the thing I love most about Tynker? There is absolutely nothing to install, download or upload to my computer. Once you login with an email address, you have full access to the course. It’s that easy!

The cost of the Introduction to Programming course is $50 for 16 lessons which users can do at their own pace. There is no time limit to perform each lesson and there is also no time restriction of when users can access the lessons. Basically, users can spread them out daily, weekly or even monthly. There is also an Intermediate Course offered that is more advanced at a price point of $30.

Tynker gives children a complete learning system for developing the kind of skill set (computational thinking and problem-solving skills) which are the fundamentals of 21st century jobs. They will absolutely need these skills in order to innovate and shape our future.

Computer programming is an incredibly empowering skill to learn. Follow Tynker on Twitter and Facebook to stay updated on the latest Tynker news and follow any of these hashtags for the latest tech news. #code #tech #programming #hourofcode #edtech #STEM

Have an iPad? Get the FREE Tynker app in the iTunes store.

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What are you waiting for? Programming is the new literacy, so join the nearly 7 million other Tynkerers and get Tynkering!!

Theta Mom® abides by word of mouth marketing standards and believes in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. I was provided an Introduction to Programming course via Tynker for review. However, all opinions expressed are my own and the content of this post was not influenced. Furthermore, I am a proud supporter of code.org and firmly believe in the opinion expressed in this piece.

The Real Housewives Made Me Cry

I was watching some good ol’ reality television the other night. That’s right, I’m not afraid to admit that I love me some Real Housewives. Whether it’s Atlanta, Beverly Hills, Orange County, New Jersey or NYC, it’s pretty much a guarantee I’ll be watching.  Don’t judge, but after working hard all day (especially in the role of mom) I find small doses of delight following the drama surrounding these ladies. After watching just one hour of this show, it usually makes me appreciate my life because my own personal drama seems much less dramatic compared to theirs.

RealHousewives_BHlogoAnyway, on a recent episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, I actually cried.

I know, cue the violins.

The really strange thing is this has never happened to me before. I watched countless episodes and have been a fan of The Real Housewives series for years. But, it really happened. I cried right there on my couch along with the two moms who were sending their babies off to college.

And for me, it was the ugly cry. You see, for one quick moment I pictured myself in their shoes.

I had images of dropping my babies off at their dorm room for the very last time and hugging them goodbye. I thought of the words I would want to say especially to my daughter, which kind of gives me anxiety just thinking about it.

But here’s the real takeaway here – these “Beverly Hills” moms just want the best for their kids. They want to see them thrive. They want them to be successful. They want them to be happy.

Regardless of the money in their bank account, the kind of car they drive, the home they live in or how many marriages they’ve gone through – at the end of the day, these women are moms just like you and me. They experience many of the same emotions because regardless of their lifestyle or economic status because they are moms.

And despite the drama they create for themselves (and the very public lives they live), at the core of their being they face the same kind of issues we face as mothers. They just want the same things you and I would want for our own kids. This is the kind of genuine love I saw on that episode, the kind of love only a mother can have for her child.

My baby is going to be six this year and in about seven years, my oldest will be in high school on the verge of college so I know this time will be here faster than I would ever want it to. I know I complain when my kids don’t listen or pick up after themselves. And of course I could go without the constant sibling drama and the 9,000,000 other issues I deal with on a day-to-day basis as a parent – but I know as fast as I can complain about them not putting their shoes away or to please stop making crumbs on the floor, I know there will come a day you will find me crying on that floor; crying because my children are gone and I will wish for all of this time back.

So the next time I watch a little Beverly Hills drama unfold, for a fleeting moment I’ll see these women in a different light.

And as for me? Well, I am going to smile when I hear the pitter patter of small feet and loud voices coming around the hall - and absolutely revel in a pile of shoes and crumbs on the floor.

What Happened to the American Dinner Time?

Last summer, my kids traveled abroad for the very first time. They saw for themselves what it meant to leave their homeland and visit another country – a different culture, different language, and a completely different way of life.

In so many ways, I think the Italian people are doing it right – they work to live, they don’t live to work.

Italian_MealtimeFor the Italian people, family values and traditions are paramount. These things are not blurred by hours of homework, excessive afternoon activities and endless evening schedules. Eating and talking together as a family is their timetable.

I can’t remember the last time our family was all present to sit down together at the same time to eat – and really talk and enjoy one another’s company. I don’t mean the nights you “sit” together but hardly speak because within ten minutes, one kid is off and running to practice while the other kid works on homework. At dinner time, there’s no real conversation because we’re all trying to just make it to the next “thing” on our busy schedule. There’s no real relaxing family time. No quality time.

When we were in Italy, it is so obvious that families celebrate their meal. They eat their food slowly. They talk. They laugh. There is no rush to get on to the next activity because mealtime is the activity – it’s an integral part of the daily routine.

The other major difference I noted while we were there is that people are not buried in their Smartphones and tablets the way we are here. Kids are outside playing, throwing a ball to one another or playing tag. Adults sit at café’s and converse with one another over coffee. Have you ever entered a coffee shop in the United States and watched people actually talking to one another? It’s a rarity. I think you are in the minority if you don’t attend to your mobile device in Starbucks.

On so many levels, I think that’s sad.

As Americans, we are rushed. We have become a slave to the over-scheduling of our children. We are obsessed with social media and schools have piled on more homework (which certainly isn’t the answer in education) but that’s another post…

And then we wonder why we are stressed, why we never have any quality time to ourselves or for those in our family.

Well, as they say, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do,” right?

Maybe it’s time to implement some of the Italian traditions in my own American home. Less stressing over homework. Less over-scheduling. Less rushing around every single day. Instead, more face time. I mean, real face time. And more mealtime. Quality mealtime.

I vow to have dinner time mean more than just a survival tactic at least twice a week on weeknights to serve as a celebration; a gentle reminder to our family that these are moments we should cherish.

Perhaps we should all take a cue from the Italians – who certainly appear to be doing it right.

The Perfect Class Treat on Valentine’s Day

If you’re anything like me, you wander around stores searching aimlessly for some Valentine’s Day treats for your kids and 20 of their classmates. If you have more than one child, well that number just doubled and the search just got even harder.

Are you looking for a fun way to wrap up those special treats and stop the endless search? Well look no further because Lunchbox Love® has the perfect solution!

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Introducing Lunchbox Love® Valentine’s Day cards!

LBL_ValcardsThese cards are the perfect way to show your child and their friends they were thinking about them this holiday! The best part is your child can handwrite names on the card as well as print their own name so classmates will know who it is from. You can also attach the cards to virtually any packaged treat to make this holiday super special.

LBLmomsVDayI originally planned on punching a hole on the side of the card to add ribbon and wrap the ribbon around each individual lollipop, but my daughter loves Fun Dip and wanted to incorporate that treat. So, all I needed to do was tape a Lunchbox Love card to the Fun Dip. Now we have some added love to our Valentine’s Day message!

LBL_YouandMemugAre you still looking for something to give that someone special in your life? Consider surprising them with a mug from this adorable new line from Lunchbox Love®. This is the perfect little gift for a parent, grandparent, or any other loved one. The mug is dishwasher and microwavable safe and made right here in the USA. Fill this mug with cookies, candy or any other treat, too! You can purchase any line of Lunchbox® Love directly from the company siteStay updated on the latest Lunchbox Love® news and promos on Twitter and Facebook. Follow the hashtag #LBLmoms to stay updated on the latest Mom Panel news.

Say Please, Inc. was founded by Judi Willard, a mom of two and licensed psychotherapist. Lunchbox Love® has been seen on Good Morning AmericaThe Today Show, and The Wall Street Journal. Parents love this product because of the positive messaging that helps boost a child’s self-esteem.

Theta Mom® abides by word of mouth marketing standards and believes in honesty of relationship, opinion and identity. As the Brand Ambassador for Say Please, Inc., I received Valentine’s Day Lunchbox Love® product to facilitate this review. However, all opinions expressed are purely my own and the content of this post was not influenced.