American Girl's aspiring astronaut doll could switch girls on to STEM careers
American Girl's 2018 Girl of the Year doll is Luciana Vega, “a creative, confident 11-year-old girl and aspiring astronaut who dreams of being the first person to go to Mars.” She could encourage more girls to consider careers in STEM areas such as aerospace.
Katy Dickson, president of American Girl, said: "We're proud to introduce fans to American Girl's 2018 Girl of the Year, Luciana Vega – a champion of STEM and a natural-born leader who puts her whole heart into making her dreams a reality.”
She added: “Luciana is a role model for today's girls – empowering them to defy stereotypes, and embrace risks that will teach them about failure and success as they chart their own course in life – whatever the goal."
She added: "For us, it's all about building girls of strong character, and it's why we're continuing to encourage girls to lead change and embrace.”
The 18-inch Luciana doll launches on January 1. Available accessories include a flight suit and space suit, a maker station, and a Mars habitat loaded with science and research tools. For the first time, children can also download an American Girl app to unlock exclusive content, including augmented reality, trailers and videos, space simulations, quizzes and challenges.
Additionally, Luciana's story is chronicled in a book series, published by Scholastic. The first two books, available now, introduce readers to Luciana, a young girl of Chilean descent who loves the idea of exploring new territories in space.
“After winning a scholarship to Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama, Luciana is thrilled to launch her dream of landing on Mars."By American Girl statement
"But as she ascends from Space Camp kid to youth astronaut trainee, she faces many challenges that test her competitive spirit and self-confidence, and she must find the courage to embrace the unknown with bravery, curiosity and wonder.”
To help ensure the accuracy of Luciana's story and product line, American Girl worked with an advisory board including Dr. Ellen Stofan, former NASA Chief Scientist; Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO and Executive Director of the U.S. Space & Rocket Center; Dr. Megan McArthur Behnken, NASA Astronaut; and Maureen O'Brien, Manager of Strategic Alliances at NASA.
A team of American Girl editors and product designers also visited Space Camp and NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston to gain insight into a day in the life of a Space Camp trainee.
The launch follows in the footsteps of other initiatives aimed at inspiring a new generation and more girls to pursue careers in STEM fields such as aerospace.
Last month it was announced that Little Miss Inventor will be the latest character based on the cartoon series created by Roger Hargreaves. The new book will be released the week of March 8, 2018 to coincide with International Woman’s Day and British Science Week.
Recent research commissioned by Microsoft found while most girls in the UK become attracted to STEM subjects just before the age of 11, their interest drops off sharply between the ages of 16-17, highlighting the importance of engaging girls at primary school age.
The research also suggested that the path to preventing this decline in interest includes better role models, parental and teacher support, practical experience and knowledge of STEM subjects’ application in the real world, as well as believing they will be treated equally with men working in STEM.
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