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Take the largest merchandising property of all time, and combine it with the most successful marketing company of all time, and you know there will be a seemingly unlimited variety of gadgets, t-shirts, and action figures to buy. So why is it that Disney appears to have come up short on action figures for Rey, one of the central characters to Star Wars: The Force Awakens?
It’s possible they limited details of her lightsaber-wielding skills to avoid any spoilers. However, it’s hard to also ignore Disney’s lack of female heroine action figures following Marvel’s Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. Some people have gotten upset about it. Other, more proactive girls have chosen to do something about it. Already, girls around the world have started hacking other dolls to look like Rey.
Inspired by these efforts, STEAMLabs in Toronto is hosting a Rey Doll Hackathon to show girls that they can take control of their toys. The volunteers hosting the event want to demonstrate how empowering toys for girls are in demand. However, the goal is not just to show Hasbro that they’ve missed the boat, STEAMLabs wants to encourage girls to incorporate STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math) learning methods into playtime.
The Maker movement, and STEM fields in general, have long suffered from low numbers of women. This reality comes almost entirely from the idea that these aren’t subjects that girls are interested in. Without events to encourage female hackers, how can we expect girls to become scientists, engineers, technologists, or Jedi?
No experience is necessary. If your child is interested in technology on any level, they will love STEAMLabs. The facilities include low-tech equipment like woodworking and power tools, as well as 21st century machinery like 3D printers and a laser cutter. Volunteers will be on hand with instructions, materials, help, and encouragement in making your own Rey doll from scratch.
The Rey Doll Hackathon takes place on Family Day, February 15th, 2016, from 10am-3pm. Participation is $25 (or $20 if you want to supply your own doll). STEAMLabs is open throughout the year in downtown Toronto for Makers of all ages. They’re also looking for volunteers. Makers who volunteer regularly get a free membership and access to the facilities.