How can I inspire middle school girls to learn technology through storytelling?
I want to write a female-driven adventure novel and build a larger fictional world tied to electronics kits. My thesis itself will be the proof-of-concept where I explore the relationship between narrative and education and how one can be used to inspire the other in middle school girls. I will write the first few chapters of the novel and pair it with electronics exercises that coincide with the narrative.
American Girl uses dolls sold with books to teach girls American history – imagine trading the dolls for electronics kits. Star Wars, Marvel Comics, Harry Potter and Mattel’s Monster High have proven that the most successful toys are either linked to narrative or have grown out of a successful story. I hope to tie technology to storytelling in a way that inspires girls to play with technology.
Educators: Both research and user test with schools and other educational programs.
Product Managers: Speak with product managers to understand the process of creating a product that fulfills a need for users.
Makers Spaces: Speak to makers who work with kids as well as product designers creating kits for kids to learn technology.
Academic: Look up academic papers on why girls drop out of science/math/technology and ways to prevent it.
Toys/Kits: Explore the current marketplace. Why are certain kits successful? What are their shortcomings? What do the kids respond to most in each particular kit? How could they be more suited to girls?
Narrative: Read best-selling books geared to middle school age readers to study what makes them successful.
Startup Classes: Complete Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad and Sam Altman’s Stanford Startup class online as well as continue my process with an advisor at the Leslie e lab.
I am a storyteller. It started by telling stories out loud while acting out all the roles as a kid, then moved onto writing monologues at Lee Strasberg Institute in high school. And in college I won the Outstanding Achievement in Screenwriting at NYU film school. Since then I’ve written for hire for Universal Studios, penned my first novel and helped build a mermaid fantasy world with friends for the launch of their company, EnchanTails, targeted at middle school girls.
Since attending ITP, I have brought storytelling into almost every project. Although my skill set has grown, my passion for narrative has not waned and upon approaching thesis, I knew it would have to have a storytelling element.
My second passion is women’s rights. As a tomboy who fantasized about making movies like Star Wars, I was told I wasn’t supposed to like these things because I was a girl. I also excelled in math and the sciences and was once more told these weren’t typical fields for a girl. And most of all, as a female director in Hollywood, I learned the reason only 3 ½ percent of films last year were directed by women is because of systematic sexism, not a lack of female directors. All of the above needs to change.
With Girl Power I hope to rewrite the narrative of what a girl can achieve. She will no longer be a princess in need of rescue, but rather the heroine who saves the world through her superior tech skills. EnchanTails helped me start the research into toy companies that blended product with narrative. Girl Power will blend dreams and skills rarely passed on to girls, the type they will need to succeed in the technology-driven world of the future.