STEM Exposure: Introducing Virtual Worlds to Girls with Star Stable

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The U.S. is increasingly falling behind in its education of potential and future STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) professionals.  Even more disheartening is that there is a statistical decline in women pursuing STEM careers.  It is becoming more critical to expose girls to STEM activities at a young age.  One such way is through virtual worlds.  You may have seen your child participate in virtual worlds for their name-brand dolls and stuffed animals, or even dress-up/fashion worlds.  They may have taken a stab at playing with Minecraft.  However, some of these worlds don’t reach young girls as they do young boys.  Girls may not be interested in constructing a world of blocks and accessories in Minecraft or getting caught up in the world of fashion and models.  Star Stable is a perfect alternative to reach those girls who aren’t into the superficial, or the abstract tasks of construction.

Here’s a video my daughters did for Kidzvuz giving an overview of Star Stable!

 

Why is Star Stable a great way to expose girls to STEM?  Star Stable is a wholesome, horse adventure game designed for girls ages 7-17 (yes…up to age 17!).  It’s one of the few MMORPG (massively multiplayer online role playing games) geared towards girls.  One of the key features that I appreciate is that it offers creativity and fun while in a secure and safe environment.  It’s more than over-the-top avatars walking through a cartoon environment.  In Star Stable, girls can customize their life-like avatars by name and appearance.  They can customize their horse (from a variety of types including Friesians, Andalusians, Arabians) as well as practice responsibility for it.  That’s right.  Girls actually will have the responsibility and opportunity to feed, groom, train, and care for their horses, but this is just the tip of the iceberg!

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The core of the role-playing is participating in horse races (and earn prizes), quests, adventures, and more!  There are multiple worlds such as the ancient forest of Hollow Woods.  The premise of the world is based on an original story-the mysteries of the island of Jorvik.  There are thousands of quests already present in the world and the game is updated weekly to ensure there are always surprises and challenges in store for users.

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Star Stable users can journey through multiple environments and easily navigate between tasks and options.  There are challenges and quests for users to participate in.  Even more exciting, is that users can interact with other users who are online in a social yet safe manner.  Girls can create their own riding club with friends as well!

Girls also have the opportunity to become Star Riders for membership fees.  The prices are reasonable for a single month ($7.49), 3 months, 6 months, to a lifetime membership ($69.95).  This makes it a reasonable birthday or holiday gift for girls that they can possibly access from their grade school years to their teens!

Here are my favorite educational highlights of Star Stable:

  • Exposure to sophisticated graphics and real-life applications of technology
  • Opportunity for safe socialization in a virtual environment
  • Introduction to multi-player online gaming to learn tasks
  • Practice of responsibility and care for one another (or their horse!)
  • Exposure to technology as a function of user commands

 

Star Stable is available as a download to your computer.  Hope you try out a FREE account to see if the little girl in your life likes it!   My girls (even my 13 year old) got wrapped up in it as soon as they started playing!  They were begging to become Star Riders!

 

Disclaimer:  I received one complimentary lifetime membership to Star Stable as compensation.  The thoughts and opinions here are completely my own.  Thank you to Star Stable for allowing me to try out this unique adventure experience for girls!

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Bounce and Elastic Science Fun with Wubble Bubble Ball

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Toys are some of the best ways to allow kids to have fun and learn at the same time.  The Wubble Bubble Ball is no exception.

We’ve all purchased bouncing balls for our children, but this is one ball that gives you the flexibility to have teachable moments on properties of matter and forces.  Before I go into the educational aspects of this toy, let me share what it actually is!

At a first glance, you think it’s a standard ball you can inflate up to 3 feet.  However, once you start playing with it you realize it is more like playing with a real-life bubble.  The ball is extremely elastic and stretchy.  My 1 year old picks it up with ease by pinching it on the sides and can throw it over his head without toppling or falling over.  Large enough to play a huge game of toss, but delicate enough to not hurt littles ones in a game of dodge ball.  In fact, my 1 year old son loves it when we bounce it off of his head or if it bounces off of him!  My older girls are 9 and 13 and have sat on the Wubble, bounced on it, and laid on it.  Once of the best features that make this ball unique is that you can deflate the ball when you want to store it away and inflate it again for play.   When deflated, the Wubble Ball is the size of an average dinner plate.  This is perfect for not taking up room in your house!

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This is a great option for a holiday gift this year!  Selected as a 2014 Top Toy for the Holiday Season, the Wubble Bubble Ball is a Family Fun Toy Of The Year Award Winner (you can find all 25 winners featured in the November 2014 issue of Family Fun Magazine.  NSI President Frank Landi developed the Wubble™ Bubble Ball, at the request of his children’s dream to play with a real-life bubble, to keep children’s love for fun, active play alive.  It has since won numerous won numerous toy awards, including:

  • Oppenheim Toy Portfolio Best Toy Award
  • National Parenting Center Seal of Approval
  • Mr. Dad Approved Award
  • Parent’s Choice Award
  • Dr. Toy Best 100 Picks Award

So far we haven’t had any issues of the Wubble Ball popping although we have played with it both indoors and outdoors.  We have heard of instances from friends of it popping upon the first inflation or while playing with it forcefully.  The good thing is that the company offers a lifetime replacement guarantee. It costs $6.99 to replace a Wubble under the guarantee.  There are some tips to help ensure no damage is caused during inflation.  You can use a little bit of oil (whatever you have in your kitchen) to insert the pump into the Wubble Ball the first time. We found that you can inflate your Wubble Ball with an air mattress pump with an adapter as an alternative to the pump that comes with the ball.  Here’s a video that may also help with inflation tips:  “How to Inflate a Wubble Ball“.

So how can the Wubble Ball be used as a teaching tool?  Here are some science concepts that can be taught with this toy:

  • Elasticity as a property of matter
  • Matter can change shape (children can sit on the Wubble Ball, stretch it, etc.), but it’s composition doesn’t change (It still has the same amount of air and surface area on the ball).
  • Air pressure between molecules increase as you inflate that Wubble Ball and decrease as the Wubble Ball deflates.

Some scientific investigations children can conduct with the Wubble Ball:

  • Does temperature influence the performance of the Wubble Ball?  Especially during this time of year, children can take the Wubble Ball out during the day and during night (when the temperature drops) and compare its’ bouncing/stretching ability.
  • How does air pressure influence the performance of the Wubble Ball?  Have children observe any differences in how the Wubble Ball bounces, feels, stretches, etc. with different amounts of inflation on the ball.
  • Research the material(s) Wubble Balls are made out of.  Research other products that have these materials.  What other uses do you think this material will be good for?

 

Wubble Ball is available at Target, Toys R Us and online at www.wubbleball.com.

 

Disclaimer:  I received a sample of the Wubble Bubble Ball red to faciliate this review, but the opinions here are entirely my own.

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