The dolls are now available at Target!
A nonprofit founder has created the “Surprise Powerz Dolls” to promote STEM skills in young girls!
Kristel Bell is the founder of Black Girls Movement, a nonprofit that promotes equity in STEM education and resources for Black girls. Since 2016, Bell has helped to grow that work, offering a K-12 STEM curriculum, curating various community outreach efforts and providing resources and scholarships annually for Black women and girls looking to enter into the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Now she is expanding her mission, launching the “Surprise Powerz Dolls,” a new toy designed to promote STEM skills in young girls.
“Walk down the girls toy aisle across almost every toy store, it’s filled with princesses, and glitter. Many toys don’t represent Black and Latina girls reaching their full potential. However, when you walk over to the boys’ toy aisle there are robots, building blocks, video games and other toys that build their confidence in science, tech, engineering and math (STEM) skills,” Bell told Because Of Them We Can.
Once Bell had the idea for the dolls, she cashed in on her 401k to make the dream a reality, The Chicago Tribune reports. The former marketing expert left her job in the private sector during the pandemic to build out the collection, partnering with an illustrator to map out the designs and a preschool teacher who is a member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children to create the character phrases.
The resulting effort is a collection sure to be a hit with parents and children alike. Each doll is designed especially for girls ages 2-5, featuring an array of diverse dolls with different STEM powers, including Codie The Coder, Astro The Astronaut, Vera The Vet, and Maria The Mathemagician. Each doll has a backstory and comes with various sound effects, a 10-second jingle, and 75 different phrases about STEM, voiced by real children from similar ethnic backgrounds.
“It isn’t just one plus one equals two; it’s telling a story. When you’re listening to the doll, she’s taking you on a journey through her life of being a veterinarian or being an astronaut, with cool factoids you can learn. There are things which I don’t even think some adults know,” Bell previously explained.
Those fun facts include things like “peacocks are male birds,” and the type of foods they enjoy, the different unique makeup of various planets like Uranus and Jupiter, and the weight of earth…a whopping “13 octillion, 170 septillion pounds!”
For Bell, the dolls are important not just for diversity and inclusion, but for early learning and representation. It’s important to her that young girls get just as many career options to aspire to as their male counterparts, particularly in the STEM arena which is a highly sought-after sector across the globe.
“Many girls don’t believe they are good at math starting in preschool. It’s critical that parents prepare their early learning girls for these subjects just as much as their boys. When your children play with toys they are learning. What are your daughters' toys teaching her? Girls, especially Black and Latina girls, need to play with representative and smart role models that show them they can be anything they put their minds to, while helping them reach critical developmental milestones,” said Bell.
Now, the dolls are available online at Target, a huge milestone for the Detroit native! Currently, Bell’s coding, astronaut and mathemagician dolls are available at Target.com. And Bell says this is only the beginning, making plans for a line of books, games and educational video content down the pipeline. She also wants to expand the professions of the dolls in the future to include nurses, robotics engineers, and environmental scientists. The possibilities are endless.
Bell said she wants all children to use their “surprise powerz and dream big,” emphasizing that they “can be anything [they] want to be.” She hopes parents will invest in those dreams by starting with the types of toys they choose for their children, the Surprise Powerz Dolls being the first of many empowering early learning products Bell plans to release in the market.
“The toddlers and preschooler girls of today have the potential of becoming the doctors, coders, astronauts and mathematicians of tomorrow. We highly encourage parents to invest in their children now. Soon your child will be using her surprise powerz to break generational cycles, save lies and make the world a better place,” said Bell.
Get your Surprise Powerz Dolls online now at Target.
Photo Courtesy of Kristel Bell/Surprise Powerz Dolls