• Dr Alex Baker

Astronaut Barbie launched into space

As the school year starts under unprecedented changes, we're keenly aware of how we can support educators to keep inspiring and educating children to pursue STEM subjects. Today, we're looking back at one of our most exciting educational launches, when we launched Astronaut Barbie into space for Mattel and STEM Camp Toronto.

Barbie was created in 1959 as a toy for girls. Since her inception, she was intended to inspire young girls by showcasing the range of careers available to women. Astronaut Barbie was one of the first 'career' Barbie models, released in 1965 to reflect a growing public interest in space travel due to the Space Race. At that time, only one woman had been sent into space, the Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova in 1963, and it would be nearly two decades until another woman would travel to space.

Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics-related fields, commonly abbreviated to STEM, have had a huge gender imbalance for as long as women have been a part of the workforce. Barbie has played an important part in correcting that imbalance by presenting a female role model in various STEM careers.

Keeping up with the modern age, Barbie has a series of hugely popular vlogs on YouTube, embracing the conventions of lifestyle vlogging to teach empowering lessons to young girls. For example, one recent video has Barbie and friends doing the "Sorry Reflex challenge", where they have to go a whole day without saying 'sorry' reflexively. Using fun social media trends to introduce concepts of female empowerment is a clever and powerful way to continue Barbie's noble mission.

Collaborating with inspiring brands like Mattel is just one of the ways we work to promote STEM education and interest in space topics for children. For more information on our outreach or to find out how you can conduct an educational launch for your school, visit our Education homepage here.

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