LEGO Friends hit stores in January 2012. By then there had already been weeks of arguments online: is pink good for girls? These are dolls not building blocks! Who's going to play with them?
Olivia, the main Friend, has an inventor's workshop. I looked at that little LEGO lab and I knew she had adventures in the offing. I knew she had a love of real science and that she was going to grow from a young tinkerer to an adult engineer.
From my own experience in science and technology, I understand the importance of role models. I wanted to kick down the door LEGO left partially open by giving Olivia a hobby that was nearly masculine. I wanted to subvert the stereotype of science and make it something okay for a girl to love. While I may personally dislike pink, it doesn't matter the color of your oscilloscope. If you want to work with one, you want to work with one. If the color makes you stop and get interested, then good.
So I went to Kickstarter and some wonderful backers supported my project that twisted stereotypes about scientists and throw open the field for people who enjoy pastels. I wanted to write about how collaboration between adult scientists has its roots in being, and staying, friends. I wanted to be gleefully and unashamedly in love with the cool aspects of science, giddy about electrons and x-rays. I wanted to showcase the women working in science, both today and in the past. And I wanted to build telescopes and x-ray machines and microscopes out of LEGO and show Olivia using them.
Thanks to my backers, the stories are out there for anyone to purchase. Each one includes a color picture of Olivia, often with her friends, using computers and lab apparatus. She's got a whiteboard and a blackboard and she's not afraid of putting up equations.
Subvert scientist stereotypes by supporting stories of Olivia the Inventor as she recreates some of the grand experiments of science.
Mary Alexandra Agner writes of dead women, telescopes, and secrets in poetry, prose, and Ada. As a freelance science writer, she's worked with Under the Microscope, Argonne National Laboratory, and other markets. Her latest book of science poetry is available from Parallel Press. She was born in a United State made for lovers and currently lives halfway up Spring Hill. Her advanced degrees include Earth & planetary science and creative writing. She can be found online at http://www.pantoum.org.