So, Ruby and I are writing other posts right now, but a lot of them are stuck in our review process (aka us deleting them and starting over). A big part of being an engineer is helping educate other people about engineering and spreading our love and passion for technology. Yes, it's basically like proselytizing, but when you love science as much as we do it's hard to not want to share. Thus, before this week is over, I figure I'd post something quick about awesome things that are being done to expose young people (especially girls) to science and technology.
The most recent product is a book series called Hello Ruby. If you haven't seen the kickstarter page circulating on the internet yet, you should really check it out. Basically, it will teach programming to kids in a story book format which helps keep kids interested and make learning programming less intimidating. Since it is widely considered that being able to program is the "new literacy", it's especially important to provide a fun way to teach young (and old) people how to program. There are many other programs that help make introductory programming fun, including Alice, various video game format programming tools, and more.
Another one that is already being sold is GoldiBlox, which are story based engineering toys for girls. I've heard mixed reviews as to the quality of the product, but it's still pretty cool.
Now, the next thing I'm going to say is pretty crazy, but kids of all genders can actually use all the engineering toys out there. Boys can use story based products, and girls can try experiments without stories. Steve Spangler has some pretty awesome science experiments you can try out (or I guess a kid could too), and things like Lego Mindstorm can teach programming and be fun to build.
There are many many more where these come from, but I figured I'd just share a few of them while I was thinking about it. In the future, I intend post something in the future about some experiments I like running with kids, so let me know if you would like any specific genre of project.
PS. What "toys" do you like playing with that teach engineering skill, and scientific thought?