Editor’s note: We’re thrilled to present a guest post from contributor Tiffany Dahle of Peanut Blossom. She commented on one of our Facebook posts where we were raving about Big Hero 6 and her insight deserved exploring in a full post. We’re huge fans of the movie and the conversations it is inspiring with our kids regarding the endless possibilities science presents for their lives. Thanks, Tiffany!
Recently while selecting a show from Netflix, my 4 year old daughter announced, “I don’t like that show, it’s for boys!” It seems the influence in the preschool play yard has already begun and she has since repeatedly determined that something is not meant for her based on the color palette or subject matter alone.
It is not just the kids, I was disheartened by a recent Facebook comment about the movie Big Hero 6, “Finally, Disney has made a movie for the boys!” When did we all start to buy in on this categorization of shows, toys, books and movies as just for girls or just for boys?!
Did you know that according to the National Science Foundation:
66 percent of 4th grade girls say they like science and math,
but only 18 percent of all college engineering majors are female.
Where are we losing them along the way? How can we as parents encourage our girls to be creative thinkers?
I was honored to recently visit St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. As part of our tour, we visited a lab filled with women researchers. I’m embarrassed to admit this came as a shock. During a break in the tour I pulled the lead researcher, Dr. McGargill, aside and asked her how her journey landed her in a research position. I explained about my daughters at home and wondered what I could do to help inspire them.
She responded that she grew up wanting to be a doctor but upon arriving in medical school quickly realized her heart was too tender to handle the tragic stories of her patients. Feeling lost, an advisor at her school suggested she go into research. She didn’t even know that was an option! I quote, “You mean I would get to play all day in a lab?!”
photo credit: Dr. Maureen McGargill in the lab pictured with Rachael Keating, PhD, Immunology. St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital
The labs at St. Jude used to be filled predominately with men but that tide is slowly turning. Dr. McGargill and her team are on the front line of some amazing developments in the field of childhood cancer research. Her enthusiasm and energy for her work was absolutely contagious, this is a woman who has found exactly the right role.
Lesson learned from a chat with a real life female scientist? Talk with our kids about all the different jobs available to them in the fields of science and math! How many dress-up games and toy kits involving doctors and nurses can you think of? Now how many can you name that focus on robotics or research?
Big Hero 6 is a movie for Kids. For parents. Both genders are represented in highly relatable empathetic characters. My girls were just as quick to identify with Hiro and Baymax as they were to Honey Lemon and Go Go. Watching that mixed bag of friends work together to conquer the challenge made my heart burst with joy. My daughter is ready to join that crew. She’d like to save the day with the female scientists in the flick and make it Big Hero 7.
photo credit: Walt Disney Pictures
I have been actively seeking out age appropriate toys for my kids that help develop an interest in building, creating, and exploring their world. I balance the dolls and princesses with favorite books like “Rosie Revere Engineer” and piles of magnatiles.
After watching Big Hero 6, my four year old is just as likely to build a castle for Rapunzel & Co. as she is to build a rocket ship for them to fly into space. She has become obsessed with rockets and flying and tries to break her tiles down quickly and rebuild something new like the microbots morphing and changing with a touch of imagination.
With the holidays approaching, now is the perfect time to stock up on some thought provoking inspirational gifts for the kids in your world. I love to create gift sets with coordinating toys and books. Pick one or two from each list and wrap them up together for a gift that will wow.
And the best part? The list below is part of Amazon’s Smile program. Every purchase made from the links below will help fund the work being done at St. Jude Children’s Hospital.
- Rosie Revere Engineer: an awesome picture book that explains what an engineer does as told through a little girl’s passion for tinkering.
- Iggy Peck Architect: perfect companion to Rosie, Iggy is in her class and has a passion for building.
- Violet the Pilot
- Tinkerlab: A Hands-on Guide for Little Inventors
- On a Beam of Light: The Story of Albert Einstein
- The Most Magnificent Thing
- Robots, Robots Everywhere!
- Build a Robot: Lighthearted imaginative play game for little ones.
- Goldie Blox and the Movie Machine: Any of the Goldie Blox kits are great options, but I love this new set as a way to explore the mechanics of something our kids so often enjoy as passive watchers. (6+)
- Magnatiles: Pricey but the single most played-with toy in our house for the last 6 months for both my girls (ages 4 & 7)
- Electronic Snap Circuits: Several sets to choose from for varying skill levels. Perfect for older kids (7+)
- Q-BA-Maze 2.0: Fancy name for marble run. (5+)
- Trebuchet: I want this for the name alone but they also make Catapult and Wrecking Ball (7+)
- Stuffed Baymax: My daughters both connected with this character. Don’t underestimate imaginary play with a simple stuffed lovey. Wrap him up with tickets to see the movie together!
Interested in learning more about how you can support the work St Jude Children’s Hospital is doing to increase the average survival rate of childhood cancer to 90% over the next decade?
Check out Tiffany’s post about how a few rolls of hot pink tulle will help to save children’s lives.