Tag Archives: science

Toys for Boys? Toys for Girls? Why not just “Toys?”

This game has been the buzz item this season, at least it seems to me to be the buzz item.  For girls only though so boys, tough luck.  Go back to playing with your Legos, Kinnex, and Erector-sets (are those even still a thing?).

Last year, my step-mother-in-law, got this for the Daughter (who was almost 4 at the time).  While she was a little young to really get it, we have since played it together as she has gotten older and better able to understand the directions that have to be read in order to play.  Yes, it teaches her to put things together in a process and have an end result.  It allows her to experiment with different configurations and introduces the very basic functions of physics to her.  Overall, it’s an ok game for her to learn how to experiment and see what results she may get and then engineer a system to get the desired results which, for this game, include getting Katinka the ballerina dolphin in a pink tutu, to spin in a certain direction.

It is true that there is a disturbing, alarming, and frankly disheartening lack of women in science.  However, does that mean we need to “girly” up science for girls to get more involved and interested?  And then there’s the gender question – can something like engineering be turned into a girl toy or a boy toy?  Shouldn’t something like science (or any subject for that matter) be gender neutral?  Or even better yet…be ready to gasp, dear reader…shouldn’t all toys be gender neutral?

Let’s look again at GoldieBlox.  The game itself a good idea.  Get girls interested in creating something.  I just wish it wasn’t all cutesy with pink and silly characters.  I also think that it still kind of perpetuates the gender bias in toys with the colors of the pieces of the set (Pink ribbon, purple dowels and purple board) by insinuating that a girl will only play with it if it has pink and purple pieces and cute animals wearing clothing…but it’s a step.  I cannot deny that it is a step.  Though, as a kid, I played with Legos and really did love building all kinds of structures.  I always wished I had a Kinnex set just because it looked like fun to design and build stuff.

Lego also came under scrutiny recently when they launched a new line aimed specifically at girls.  They titled it “Lego Friends” and packaged it in purple boxes and made all the little Lego people women or girls.

girl legos

Again, can someone tell me when primary colors were deemed “boy” colors and that girls only like pink and purple?  Or when colors in general were deemed to have genders?  At any rate, they launched this product in the hopes to get more girls interested in architecture.  Apparently it is faring well because when you go into any toy store, you see rows of the stuff just on the shelves. But why?  Why did girls need to have this product line?  Why couldn’t they play with what was already out there?  It’s the same product, just different colors.  It’s the same concept, build a house or a castle or a wall or a tower or a whatever you imagine you have built and then play with it.  Why does it need to be specific for girls?

I know that I’m not a typical woman.  I do not wear a ton of make up or spend half an hour getting my hair to sit just right (if you know me, you know that my curls don’t like to behave anyway).  I know my fair share about cars.  I love watching the Science channel with my husband just because it’s interesting and the images are amazing on the nice pretty HD television.  I despise the color pink (please don’t revoke my woman card).  I don’t see a need for “girl” toys.  Does this factor in to my opinion of this game?  When my step-mother-in-law was explaining the GoldieBlox game, she said the creator made it because as a kid she didn’t have any toys like it to play with as a child.  At first, I probably reacted a bit rudely because sometimes, I can be a bit blunt with no filter (sorry step-MIL – didn’t mean to be rude at that moment), but seriously what did that even mean?  Didn’t she have access to Lincoln Logs or Legos?  Or was it that her parents didn’t buy those toys for her when she asked for them because she was a girl and her parents were stuck in a “this is a girl toy; this is a boy toy” mentality?

So, now let’s look at that idea – parents.  Parents are a child’s first and most important teacher.  Yes, we send our children to school to be educated and pass tests, and feel the pressure of pop quizzes, MCAS, SATs, PSATs, and ACTs.  But, as a parent, you can’t just rely on the school system to fully educate your child.  There are so many tests that the child must be taught to conform to.  There are so many guidelines that must be met in order to pass the child that parents need to have just as active an involvement in shaping their child.  Does that mean it’s easy?  NO.  Parents work a lot to maintain the basic life needs of a child (food, shelter, clothing) but, parents must also work to help their child explore their full potential.

That being said, isn’t it on the parents to introduce children to science in all forms and ultimately encourage the child to pursue what makes them happy no matter what that may be?  If your daughter wants Legos, buy her the Legos: Ninjago, Friends, Lord of the Rings…whatever.  If your son wants a kitchen set with pretend cupcakes and cakes, buy it for him. Haven’t you ever watched Ace of Cakes or the Cake Boss – those men are very manly and secure in themselves and HAPPY.  If your daughter wants dolls, get them.  If your son wants art sets, get them.  Do not tell your child, “Are you sure? Don’t you think that’s kind of girly/boyish?”  Do not perpetuate this idea that these inanimate objects have a gender specific target.  Let your child explore and discover what makes him or her happy.

As a parent, introduce your child to science.  It can be simple things at home, that are totally free like a Nature walk, a night-time “Star Party” to name constellations, a pot of water boiling.  The internet is full of great “free” activities that you can do with your child at any age.  Read your local newspaper to find local events that feature science.

science_works_better

We are lucky to live where we do because there is almost always something scientific going on somewhere.  If you aren’t as fortunate to have events to go to, just talk about it.  Just talking about it and pointing things out can help pique that curiosity that is naturally in your child.  If science isn’t want excites them, find out what does.  Nurture it and then watch as your happy child does something wonderful with his or her life.

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Ocean Blue – The Renewable Energy

In the days before the oceans dried up, the question of energy was on the minds of the millions.  There were so many who knew that there needed to be a source of energy that would not destroy their future home.  When the oceans first began to recede and people could begin to return to the land and salvage what was left, the debate began and escalated to a heated conversation of what method would be best.

oil v wind

Some scientists insisted on solar power, wind power, or even nuclear power since they had finally been able to make each one not only safe but also ridiculously affordable.  They proposed using the uninhabitable areas to build fields of wind and solar farms and on the outskirts possibly build a nuclear plant or two.

Politicians insisted that switching to a natural resource for power when that very natural resource just proved to be one of the most unreliable sources would do nothing but hasten the end of what was left of their planet.  They could not be convinced that the crisis was man-made and aided by the pollution caused by the overuse of fossil fuels.  Either that or they just didn’t care and wanted to make sure that their interests were the ones who profited.  The years of the Liquid Gold War did nothing to teach any of them anything.  Besides, it was clear that their interest lied in the funding of the weapons they wanted developed so that if another world was discovered, they could take it over with minimal destruction.

But even before all these talks really happened, the supplies were dwindling.  The coal went first.  The mines were shut down because there was no way humanly possible to dig deep enough to safely mine what was needed to supply the world’s demand.  The companies tried to create machines that would be able to dig and mine but the heat kept messing with the electrical and computer components.  Millions of dollars was dumped into technology and research that would be able to strip the Earth down to its core.  In the end, the project failed and was officially scrapped the same week the first of the oil reserves ran dry.

oil well

The oil reserves went dry and panic swept across the continents.  People tried to rush to hoard gasoline and engine oil.  Any type of oil that was required to run a car or machine was government regulated after that point.  People were killed over getting a spot in a gas line.  Farms had top priority so they could run the machines to plant and harvest, but soon, it didn’t matter.  The only oil left was not available to us and so began the Liquid Gold War.

After twenty years of fighting and burning crude oil, the wells began to run dry.  There was no more to be drilled.  That was when the arks were unveiled.  The world leaders at least had the foresight to create the arks.  People laughed when they were finally told of the arks.   Questions of how they would be fueled ran through everyone’s mind.  How could there possibly be any type of energy that would lift something so massive and so full of people and animals that it would be able to break the Earth’s orbit?

The day that the press conference was to be held, the world came to a stop.  Everyone, on every continent, in every country, wanted to hear how these ships were going to save humanity.  With no fuel, how were they going to be the saving grace of the human race?

All the years of research, all the development of streamlined processes for harnessing the sun and the ever-growing winds were good but oddly not the solution for these arks.  Some where, in some forest in the heart of what was once known as Russia, a scientist discovered a simple solution. There was a weed that grew, this scientist never bothered to name it because it really didn’t matter what it was named.  What mattered was what it could do.

This scientist discovered that when this plant was boiled down and combined with basic salt, created a fuel similar to methane gas.  The scientist even went on to create a  more powerful synthetic form that could be created with polymers and all natural elements, making it a new renewable source of energy.  After finding the fuel, the scientist then developed the engine that could run on the gas.  It was a huge success and rumors of the engine spread throughout the governments and the scientific community.  No one really had proof of it though because the scientist held it all in the highest secrecy.

Molecules

After the leading governments tracked the scientist down, they were amazed by what she had accomplished and brought her out of the woods to help reproduce what she had done.  Then, they placed the technology and energy into these arks.

Reactions to this news varied.  Some people were amazed that no one had found this plant before.  Others laughed, believing it would never work, saying there was no way that a weed would get them into outer space and keep them traveling until they found a new planet to live on.  When the arks were turned on and taken on a demonstrative trip, the naysayers were silenced and began lining up for their respective ark.

The new energy source that earned the nickname of the Red Source, a name harkening back to the ancient histories, became a small spark of hope.  And that spark would carry them all to a new home.

This post is part of the January 2013 NaBloPoMo.  This month’s theme is Energy.  Today’s prompt was “Come up with a creative plan (and no, it doesn’t have to be realistic and scientifically-based — toddler on a hamster wheel, anyone?) to create energy once we use up our fossil fuels.”  This post goes with yesterday’s post so if you like this one, click here to go back and read yesterday’s!

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Ocean Blue

Barren.

That’s what it is now.  As far as the eye can see.  There is no green.  There is no blue.  It’s just varying shades of brown.  The wind blows the brown around the dusty blue sky, which isn’t even really blue when you look at it.  It’s the mind’s eye that makes it blue, a shared memory, passed down through the generations.

The vastness stretches for thousands of miles with newly exposed mountain ranges and crevices, once hidden by the blue oceans, are now the predominant landscape.  There is nothing but the harsh jagged edges of the rocky terrain, thirsting.

boat-dried-up_1887707i

The buildings are standing and inside, there are histories that talk of the once great planet that was here.  The diversity of life was like no other planet known.  The species that evolved and adapted over time could not adapt to the damage that was done in the long run.  It was just too much.  The pictures in the books and the film discs leave these amazing images though of the splendor of what this planet once was.

Earth Space Photo

There were oceans that stretched from one city to another, filled with creatures, plants, minerals that kept the planet alive.  Now, they were dust and death.  They once overflowed and reclaimed the planet, but then the skies filled with chemicals and sucked the very essence from them.

In a few more centuries, the planet may restore itself but it is not a definite thing.  The life was choked out of it and now it is forced to reset itself.  The people fled in a biblical fashion but the arcs they created would have put the 40 cubit by 40 cubit ship to shame.

The true question is did they learn their lesson as they fled their home?  Did they realize that they need to preserve the ocean as much as the air?  Did they learn how to create energy that didn’t kill? Did they learn to appreciate the most amazing thing they had?

This post was written as part of the January NaBloPoMo. The theme for this month is energy.  Today’s post was “What is your biggest concern about the future of the environment?”  I really played with this theme and think for the rest of this week’s prompts, I’m going to stretch my creative muscles and really have fun with this one!

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