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MIT-designed dance party lamp kit aims to illuminate STEM for girls

by: Bob Dumas Updated:

When learning is fun and creative, kids don’t find it to be a chore -- that’s the idea behind a new toy created to get girls interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) topics.

Jubilite is a fully functioning lamp that a middle school-aged child can build.

“It’s a dance party lamp kit, to help get kids excited about STEM," explained Maria Yang, a professor of mechanical engineering at MIT. "They build and design a lamp that combines arts and crafts and electronics, and results in this lamp you can keep in your room as part of your room décor.”

Yang developed Jubilite with Tony Hu, a lecturer at the MIT Toy lab and the founder of Brainy Yak Labs.

“There’s research that shows girls, around middle school age, their participation in STEM classes and curriculum starts to drop off," explained Yang. “What we want to do with Jubilite is get girls back on the STEM train by engaging their interests.”

Jim James sells a lot educational toys at Park Street Books in Medfield. He says making these types of toys appeal to girls takes a lot more than just making them pink. Right now, he says most them are sold to boys or their parents.

A former teacher, James believes Jubilite could be successful because it becomes a usable product.

“There is satisfaction in using what you make, rather than just building it and it sitting there...and that crosses all the genders,” he said. 

Tony Hu has created many toys and couldn’t agree more.

“What we are trying to do is sneak in a bit of that STEM education thru creative play, so we know that kids love engaging in arts and crafts, drawing, other creative play and we are trying to marry that with electronics and other STEM topics," he said. 

Hu and Yang are currently in China with their prototypes, looking for a plant to manufacture Jubilite.