- Editor's Rating
- Promotes science, math, technology, and engineering for young girls.
- Still maintains a girly aspect.
- Expansions are endless
- There isn't a version for boys yet.
This is a great toy for girls everywhere, helping promote a love of science, math, technology, and engineering. It would be great to see a version of this for boys as well, since its a toy focused on crossing gender barriers.
Who says girls don’t like math or science? Certainly not the two MIT engineering students behind the Roominate DIY Wired Dollhouse, who, surprised by the lack of women in their programs, set out to erase the stereotype that girls don’t enjoy topics like math, science, technology, and engineering by proving these subjects can be both fun and girly.
It’s no surprise that toys are far from gender neutral, no matter how hard parents push for it, or even kids for that matter. Matchbox cars are marketed to boys and dolls are marketed to girls. This is what makes the Roominate DIY Dollhouse great; it is a fun toy, targeted towards girls (but that doesn’t mean boys won’t want to try it out either) and science, technology, engineering, and math are at its foundation.
Growing up, creators Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen both remember playing with their brothers’ Legos, their dad’s robotics labs, and even saws. They couldn’t help but wonder if these childhood experiences were what drove them to Stanford’s engineering program in the first place (preceded by undergrad degrees from MIT and Caltech, respectively). Their idea is that something as simple as an engineering toy might help bring more women into their male dominated industry by getting them interested in engineering at a young age. Because, how are we supposed to know if girls like math, science, engineering, and technology unless we let them try it out?
And it seems girls everywhere are more than interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) judging by the countless photos streaming in of each unique room or house built from Roominate DIY Dollhouse kits; one look at these creations makes it clear that imagination is a key ingredient.
The possibilities for creation are endless; build a one-, two-, three-story home, a duplex, a mansion, or a shack, and then decorate it as desired. When opening the box, the clean slate of possibilities is almost intimidating, and the creations by girls everywhere, posted on the Roominate website, are impressively creative.
How it Works
The dollhouse kit comes with a set of walls, connectors, stickers, colored paper, wires, different sized plastic pieces, and more; all to create the room of any child’s dreams. Technology comes in with the wired aspect, since kids can hook up anything ranging from fans, circular saws, fireplaces, elevators, washing machines, computers, televisions and more.
Stories are built upon one another and stairs can be created with the included plastic squares that fit into one another. The website also has step-by-step directions on how to create different items, but girls everywhere are also coming up with their own ideas. The battery packs, once loaded, are connected with wires and come with instructions on how to hook everything up. Then, with the push of a switch connected to one of the wires, creations come to life.
The pack TechnologyGuide tested is the standard Roominate DIY kit, which included a spinning motor, with instructions on how to build a fan. Motors can be turned into plenty of moving items, including an elevator, wheels, and even a fireplace with some strategically placed colored paper. There are also lights, which can be used to light a room or even simulate a computer or TV screen when “installed” into a television set, with a piece of paper serving as the screen.
Expansion packs even include a solar panel, leaving out the need for batteries. Buzzers can also be built, serving as a doorbell, a timer, or maybe a school bell signaling it’s time to move to the next class. There are even instructions on how to create a circular saw, something one of the creators received as a gift as a young girl, and used to create her own wooden doll.
Just because it’s all about science and engineering, certainly does not mean the house can’t look beautiful too. That is one of the subtle messages of the Roominate DIY Wired Dollhouse, it doesn’t bring any notion to the table that because it’s about engineering and science, it can’t be girly too. And once a design has run its course, it can be taken apart, and built again.
Now Go Get One!
The dollhouse can be bought in different packs, starting with the Original Roominate for $59, which comes with enough equipment to make one room as well as one motored device. From there it goes to the Roominate Suite for $115, and the Chateau de Roominate for $225. Each pack comes with additional rooms, accessories, and wired battery packs. There are also seasonal offerings, such as the Lights! Bunnies! Roominate! pack, which features spring elements to create a chicken coop, a carrot basket, and a string of lights.
Additional packs can be purchased such as the structural engineer pack, which comes with additional walls and connectors; the electrical engineer pack, which comes with extra motors, switches, battery packs, and lights; and the design engineer pack which comes with the plastic pieces used to build different elements of the house such as chairs and tables. Two subscription services are also offered for 3 Months of Roominate, which includes a solar panel, a light, and a buzzer (one delivered each month), or the 3 Months of Roominate Deluxe, which adds on educational activities surrounding each month’s specific item.
The electrical engineering part is undoubtedly the most addicting aspect of the Roominate DIY Wired Dollhouse; allowing for creations ranging from windmills, wheels, fans, lights, and lit up computer or TV screens (with an imaginary picture, of course). It may not be a tech-heavy toy, but there is enough tech involved to keep kids interested, while sneakily teaching them something, and motivating their creativity. Something Angry Birds can’t exactly boast. In fact, as this catches on, it would not be surprising if boys everywhere become a bit envious, and start asking for their own DIY houses.
The Roominate DIY Wired Dollhouse Building Kit is recommended for ages six years old and up. It does contain small parts that might present a choking hazard. The makers of Roominate have stated that all of their products meet the American Society for Testing and Materials toy safety specifications.