How to get a 5 year old disney princess excited about science?
January 28, 2014 1:19 PM   Subscribe

Any ideas on making discovery fun for a princess obsessed 5 year old girl?

I have an amazing, energetic niece that recently turned 5. I love playing with her and want to expose her to as much wonder as possible. I would love for her to be amazed at the natural world but she is more on the princesses, dress up and shiny baubles phase. All she wants me to do is play pretend parties at her doll house or watch her dress up some girl in an app on the ipad. Is there anything that we could do together that plants the seeds of a lifelong interest in the sciences at this point or is it too early for me to do anything like that? I want to be her cool uncle who she can learn and do stuff with (I'm an Engineer, early 30s and reasonably curious/aware about a lot of areas that I don't have academic proficiency in). She refuses to go out on hikes or biking trips (and asks to go home within half an hour of me taking her on a walk somewhere)

Can you share your ideas and experience about any science kits, building activities etc that can help me teach her a few things while she has a lot of fun?
posted by savitarka to Education (44 answers total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Try this article as a starting point..
posted by Perplexity at 1:20 PM on January 28, 2014


Start out by making one of those quick-make crystals that are marketed to girls.

Pink boxes and sparkles and shit.

Start it out that way...tell her about larger pieces of jewelry.

Gems. Geology....
posted by hal_c_on at 1:23 PM on January 28, 2014 [6 favorites]

While I think you might not make headway right away, I'd try introducing her to some cool natural science - butterflies and dragonflies, how they live and grow. Or if she has a favorite animal, maybe learn about how they live (maybe even in the wild, depending on the animal).

Could you help her build things for her dolls? When I was a kid we would make little libraries, use cardboard boxes to make crazy houses.
posted by brilliantine at 1:25 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Much as it pains me to recommend this (as a die-hard lifelong pink-hater), how about Lego Friends? This is exactly what its designed for. A pink gateway into regular non-gendered lego. She will build her pink treehouse/cafe/vet office/whatever, and then play nurturing role-playing games with it, which you should not discourage her from doing. You can help her construct it, and then plant the seeds of the idea that it can be modified and rebuilt differently, but not push her to do that.
posted by Joh at 1:28 PM on January 28, 2014

Not too early!

When my daughter went to a dinosaur themed camp at that age, the instructor held an outdoor treasure hunt with plastic dinosaurs. It was basically a clearing in the woods, but it got all of the kids exploring the area, looking at the rocks/trees/leaves. You could do something similar with some shiny baubles. Just hide them around and have her search for them.

The butterfly treehouse kit that they sell? It is AWESOME! You buy the kit in the store and order the butterflies through the mail. It's absolutely fantastic. Once you've grown the painted lady butterflies, involve her in searching for monarch eggs and caterpillars outside. Or plant your own butterfly garden!

(Avoid the kit with ants. Avoid the tadpole kit, too. Stick with the butterflies. Trust me.)
posted by Ostara at 1:30 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I was super girly growing up and I ended up an engineer.

So... girly is OK!!!! And this may never change.

What may have did it for me was

- DIRT oh man I loved looking at dirt, bugs, spider webs; going to the local creek and investigating the wide array of animals I found there. Have her think: why are they doing what they're doing? why are they behaving that way? what are they thinking?

- in addition to copious amounts of dress up clothes, I had those science tubes to mix stuff in and watch the chemical reactions. Fun!

- painting... how do colors mix together to make other colors? you can use makeup

- buy this WILD SCIENCE PERFUME LABORATORY or Make Your Own LipBalm

- Yes! to gems & gemology, god I loved that stuff

- my parents were very logical, questioning people, my mother especially. She just asked questions in a very logical fashion, with one idea building on the next until she had a full picture. She was in no way a scientist, just very "if, then" oriented. Can you demonstrate the scientific method by verbalizing how you are thinking and linking ideas together? And then how you will gather more information to see if you're right, etc.

- power wheels toys? tonka trucks (that I used to put my hamster in) just co opt those more 'physical' or 'boy' toys but play with them in girly ways
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:31 PM on January 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

Also, the answer to getting girls involved in science is not "make it pink." Grrr.

You could also buy her a rock tumbler, but that takes some patience. Maybe take her to a gem and mineral show? The rockhounds at those generally have kid activities there, too, like breaking open geodes or starting a rock collection in a recycled egg carton.
posted by Ostara at 1:33 PM on January 28, 2014

And if she has small animals (gerbil, hamster), help her build houses for them out of cardboard.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 1:33 PM on January 28, 2014

Seconding the "compromise". I had grand plans for being the cool aunt for my niece (she's also five), and looked forward to getting her a copy of "Free To Be You And Me" when she turned six the way my own aunt did. I drove myself crazy trying to find a Dora-themed present one year that wasn't about Dora's pretty dress but was instead about Dora's map and compass or whatever.

But everyone, everyone, in the family has remarked on how much of a girly-girl fashionista she is. One of her first memories is playing with her mom's jewelry box when she was one. Her favorite toy bunny is named "Jimmy" - after Jimmy Choo. She has always been the kind of little girl who you had to talk into wearing a sweater over her sparkly princess dress (and "I bet Cinderella would have a coat on a day like today" didn't always work). And this Thanksgiving, the child dissed my outfit (she walked into a room in her sparkly little-girl party dress with a big grin on, then turned to me - I was wearing jeans, a sweater, and a nice blazer - and looked me up and down and asked, "are you wearing that?").

Right now, being a diva is just who she is, and she just may be one; and I didn't want to risk being the aunt that tried to make her into someone she's not. So I've gone for the compromise - pink and sparkly is just where she is now. So I'm introducing DIY via craft kits that appeal to her fashion sense (make your own tiaras!), and science via pink Lego friends (I picked the one that's the inventor) and I'll maybe slip "The Paper Bag Princess" in there somewhere too (she's a princess, but she does stuff for herself) and roll with it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:39 PM on January 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

Roominate is a line of toys designed to get girls interested in STEM. It tends more towards Engineering than Science but it does involve an introduction to circuits.
posted by rada at 1:40 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Cooking or baking? Look for cool rocks together (in playground gravel or around the park or at a museum, whatever works)? Maybe just bring up questions like what makes weather happen and see what she thinks.

Also, lots and lots of girls go through the princess/girly phase. I'd venture to say most girls, in fact. Honestly, if you want to encourage an interest in the sciences in her, just being in her life as a male figure who doesn't judge her interests and thinks she's cool no matter what will probably pay off more in the long run than getting her a rock tumbler or butterfly garden. Just play with her and listen to her and encourage her to ask questions and think about things.
posted by MadamM at 1:45 PM on January 28, 2014 [6 favorites]

the greatest scientific infographic ever conceived is the periodic table of the elements. every child should have one on the bedroom wall. as the parent, you get to explain "this is hydrogen" and then "this is helium" and when you get to lithium, "this is why lithium is important."
posted by bruce at 1:46 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I have found that a lot of princess-obsessed girls are totally and completely happy to do whatever kind of science-type project you want to do with them just so long as they don't have to stop being princess-obsessed to do it.

So, do whatever activities you want to do with her, but go ahead and dress up like princesses to do them. Princesses can be smart and curious, too!

I have some friends with two very frilly pink little girls who hike ALL THE TIME. There are so many pictures of them in hiking boots and tutus and tiaras you wouldn't believe.

The most important thing is not to divorce YOUR kind of fun from HER kind of fun.
posted by phunniemee at 1:53 PM on January 28, 2014 [25 favorites]

I was a prissy pink princess girl, and here's what I loved that was sciencey:

- the local children's museum, aquarium, and zoo. I grew up in a more remote area that didn't have access to a Natural History Museum, planetarium, space center, or many other science attractions, but generally anywhere that you could actually go and see/touch/experience science was A-OK by me. I was also not really outdoorsy and not super into hikes and such. (Frankly I think five is a little young for a hike.)

- kits, as mentioned above. I was more into the Klutz type kits and less into gimmicky "make a crystal!" type things, but if it was a kit, I would probably do it. Similarly, any kind of hands on Let's Do An Experiment type of thing.

- nature and animal documentaries. Also anything about space. Or dinosaurs. I was also obsessed with ancient cultures, ruins, archaeology, and the like.

- legos, though I would not really categorize this as "science" play, but more just creative play in general.

I will say, however, that I did not grow up to be an engineer or a scientist of any type, and pretty much stayed into pretend-play type of interests. I got into theatre and dance, wrote, and made videos and movies with friends. The above all gave me a respect for science, but, well, not everybody is going to grow up to be an engineer and that's OK. You should also think about meeting her where she is in terms of her interests and styles of play.
posted by Sara C. at 1:56 PM on January 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

Whatever she's interested in, there's ways you can get her to think more scientifically or creatively about it. What probably won't work out great is giving her the impression that you think her interests are inferior to yours and need to be supplanted (not that you said as much, but kids have excellent adult-dismissiveness detection systems, so be mindful). You can springboard from princesses and dress-up apps to gemology, fragrance chemistry, royal genealogy, castle architecture, color theory, history of costume design, I dunno, whatever, some of it might take and some won't, but five is plenty old enough to double down on your natural interests when some grown-up is trying to steer you towards something that's better for you, so my advice if you want to be that cool uncle she wants to hang around with and who helps her learn stuff would be to try your damnedest to relate to what she cares about and encourage questions and creativity and to drill down deep when she's into something, even if it's princesses and fashion and whatnot. This should also help lay some groundwork for her to become curious on her own about what you find fascinating and worth learning about and might provide you with an opening to haul her off to a science museum or nature trail without resistance.
posted by prize bull octorok at 2:01 PM on January 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

I was a princessy tutu-wearing kindergartener, myself, and didn't really find science kits that interesting. Hikes and biking trips? Forget it.

Flowers were my gateway drug. Flowers are pretty and princessy and they smell great, yet they're also full of patterns and cool plant parts and they attract bees and butterflies. It helped immensely that my front yard was full of flowering trees and bushes, but if she's not that lucky, you can help her put together a window garden. (Do this in the spring or summer and choose already-growing plants rather than trying to plant seeds, because it can be disappointing if things don't sprout.) Read up on the plants she picks out so you can share cool flower facts.

If her parents aren't cool on the window garden, take her to a nearby botanical garden. Find out when the most flowers are in bloom, and take her on a super-special picnic, with special treats like little pink cakes or tiny sandwiches or something. Let her wander around afterwards.

Other than that, I agree with the recommendations not to force it. It might help her curiosity if you start asking her about what she's into now. "I've never seen a dress like this one before. What's this fabric called?" Or "Can you draw me a blue and orange outfit?" It's much easier to get a kid to think creatively about what she's already interested in.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:04 PM on January 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

Was going to mention Roominate as well, though I have no first-hand experience with it.

Also, pay attention to what part of playing princess is most fun for her. If it's the jewelry, then gem-making is a possibility, as mentioned by others above. If it's the clothing, consider designing/constructing new fashions with her (drawing/cutting/pasting/sewing/painting). This can even involve a bit of color theory (pairing colors and their effect on each other). If it's being in a castle, help her build one. Maybe there's a particular princess story or song she likes – create a new song or write and illustrate a new book with her. Perhaps she'd be interested to know what real princesses were (are) like – crack open some kids history books, or (shudder) help her learn about the UK Royal Family and Kate Middleton (yes, duchess, not princess, but there you go you learn something).

Certainly not all of these things are SCIENCE, but they'll still help encourage imagination and exploration. If she builds the habit of exploration in art, design, history, storytelling, music, etc. it won't be any sort of leap to explore the world in a science-y way as well, down the line.

On preview, prize bull octorok says it better, and then some.
posted by Kabanos at 2:05 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

My daughter liked playing around with sunprints and the crystals kits and looking at the stars at night. Just don't make science "spinach" meaning don't stress the good-for-you parts, emphasize the fun-to-do parts. She might also like making her own lipgloss and hand creams, too.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:05 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

GoldieBlox! That's a link to a YouTube video for an engineering toy for girls. And here's their website.
posted by rio at 2:06 PM on January 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

Response by poster: Wow!! There's a lot of great ideas here. I am sincerely grateful for all the responses. I do admit I'm being a bit snobby about her interests being inferior .The approach suggested in all your responses is clearly a winning bet. I'll try to work within the system and not be the overbearing adult.

Thanks guys..all of you.. I think all the responses deserve to be marked as 'best answers'. Keep 'em coming.
posted by savitarka at 2:36 PM on January 28, 2014

Avoid making it seem like she has to be one thing or another. She can be a princess engineer, if you know what I mean. Don't go taking any tiaras away. She's looking for magic, and there's plenty of magic in the natural world. There's rainbows and prisms and fairy houses (this is a thing you build with scraps of moss and mushrooms or whatever, where fairies live, presumably.) Lots of rocks have bits of mica or crystals in them. She's into beauty and magic, so you may be helped by looking at things through that lens.

You can lead a princess into a deep well of nerdiness.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 2:39 PM on January 28, 2014 [8 favorites]

I just wanted to say that I was (and still am) a girly girl. I love pink and pretty dresses. I was also consistently the best student in all my math classes, until university, and am now a software engineer. So it doesn't have to be one or the other!

At 5, all I wanted was dolls and stuff. At 8, I still wanted dresses, but I also wanted books, loved math, and was determined to be an inventor. After all, how else would I better my kingdom if I didn't contribute to it? I was, after all, a responsible princess.

I think one of the most important thing is to NOT make it one or the other. Choosing to be pretty doesn't mean she has to choose to be stupid. ALL the options are available, and you get to pick and choose. Let her guide you on what she wants to learn.

She may be too young for this: But there's a lot of science even in fashion. Why does clothing shrink? How do cleaning agents and bleach work? How to use design programs to model 3D humans/clothing/environment/dream houses? How does make up work? What makes it healthy and what doesn't? How does different fashion (corsets, heels, etc) affect posture, and learn about general anatomy and phisiology. All sorts of opportunities abound, as long as you don't pigeonhole "princess" as one thing and "science" as another.
posted by ethidda at 2:41 PM on January 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

Make her dream fairy princess outfit, together. More specifically, start with something simple that can be done in an afternoon - such as fairy wings - which will work with her existing costumes. If wings, then you get to design them together - go along and search for images of fairies, but they're a gateway to butterflies and dragonfly wings and nature study, as you narrow down together what she likes about wings and what fairy wings incorporate to be Proper fairy wings!

The materials options will also want to be exotic - pearlescent or glittery or holographic, get her thinking about materials, and also about structures and engineering. They'll want shape and structure, but they'll also want to spring back to shape when they hit things (shark-line? piano-wire? engage on why the materials are the way they are and ways you two couls take advantage of what) and not get caught on things), how to attach it so it's comfortable for her to wear.

There is so much about the natural world and construction and design and engineering and materials in just a pair of fairy wings, if you can get her to a point where she can participate in that side of it. Five might be too young for basic battery-and-lights circuits, but... it might not be. Fairy wings glow, right? Optics! Use the shark-line as fiber-optics? Sand the sides to make it glow? You get the idea.
posted by anonymisc at 2:48 PM on January 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

I came in to say something similar to phunnimee -- tell her to dress up in her prettiest dress because you guys are going to go to your favorite place. Put on a snazzy blazer, and go on a special outing to the science museum, complete with treats in the food court at the end.

Another popular activity with kids that age is to start them with "nature journals," where you get a blank notebook (with an awesome cover) and every day you observe something and draw it and write something (even just a label of it). It's a great activity because it's encouraging drawing and writing, while also working on observation skills necessary for science and starts them on noticing things in their natural world and getting curious about them. I do this with my 4 and 2 year olds, who basically just want to draw the same cardinal every single day, but that's okay! They're very interested in that cardinal's comings and goings and they want to know more about him. That's a great start, even if it results in a nature journal with nothing but drawings of red birds (or, in the 2-year-old's case, red scribbles). She could observe the weather, or flowers, or birds, or clouds, or bugs -- all kinds of things, or everything!

People spend a lot of time telling princessy little girls, "Oh, you can't do [FUN ACTIVITY] while wearing [PRETTY DRESS]," and making them choose between the two, which is a) a totally false choice and b) tulle is like the cheapest thing on the planet, it doesn't really matter if it gets muddy and ruined (just warn the parents in advance). I have boys around your niece's age, and what I notice with the little girls we know who are into princesses is, the girls whose parents let them run around the playground in their princess dresses do a lot more running around than the girls whose parents make them change into jeans and a T-shirt before they're "allowed" to engage in physical play or outdoorsy things.

Also I think you should get a science tiara and whenever you go hiking or rock hunting or bird watching or whatever, you should wear your science tiara, because duh, that's what people wear when they're doing science! SHE WILL THINK THIS IS THE BEST THING EVER.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:57 PM on January 28, 2014 [21 favorites]

Please do not approach this from the perspective that you need to steer your niece away from things she is intrinsically interested in, regardless of the politics and marketing that go into training little girls into thinking they need to like princesses in order to be girly. Don't shame her or express disappointment either if she decides that the stuff you present to her as additional things to be interested in = not for her. Instead, show her how princesses are interested in and responsible for so many things, and she can learn all about those different things too. Ask her what she likes about being a princess. For me, being a princess meant that I could talk to animals. What did my parents do to help me flesh that out a little more? They constantly took me to the zoo and helped me learn to care for animals and I loved it and I wanted to be a vet for the longest time. That treatment helped me extend my love for the things I liked, not make me feel bad for being interested in the things that appealed to me. Maybe you could do the same?
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:47 PM on January 28, 2014 [3 favorites]

Princess Bubblegum in Adventure Time is pretty much equal parts fair princess and working scientist, an excellent role model!
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 4:14 PM on January 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

My daughter (6) is very into fancy dresses and other feminine fripperies, but she still thinks Snap Circuits is one of the best toys ever. So do I; I had a big electronics geek phase in my childhood and I was unsure about Snap Circuits, snobbishly thinking it a bit dumbed down or something. No. Snap Circuits is very cool.

The girly stuff is not incompatible with non-girly. Does she have any toys that can be installed in something you'd enjoy playing with? "Here is a construction toy you've never heard of" may not thrill but "here is a construction toy we can build a house for Princess Pink with" is a different thing.

Snap Circuits Jr is not expensive and is just right to start out with, and they sell expansion kits for it. It has a light, a speaker, switches, a motor, A THING THAT FLIES OFF THE MOTOR AND THROUGH THE ROOM, and a fairly user-friendly manual. It says 8+ but 5 could manage if they'd been walked through a few projects.
posted by kmennie at 4:38 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

I want a science tiara.

No advice here, but I liked princesses and Barbies when I was little. I grew up to be very non-girly. Her interest in princesses now doesn't mean anything about what she'll be like when she grows up.
posted by Anne Neville at 5:07 PM on January 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Some kids just don't like the outdoors. I still resent, at 32, how many people seem to think dragging me out to a park or on a hike, or up a mountain, will magically change the fact I don't like being dirty, I don't like insects, I don't like things touching me and while it's pretty, so is art and I'd much rather be in a climate controlled environment with art than outside looking at flowers. I see some of that in my daughter, but she loves riding her bike, and running. So we head out the back and run, or ride. She needs to wear something suitable for riding (no Isadora Duncan escapades here) but that's it. She can prettify that bike all she wants. But she doesn't want to go out and grub around in mud, she doesn't want to go out when the weather is bad, and to a certain point forcing the issue is going to have unintended consequences.

I did come across a tumblr post about how awesome it would be to have a bunch of sciencey books based on the princesses - Merida's history books, Ariel's etiquette guides and marine science, Belle's information management, Tiana's business guides and cookbooks, Pocahontas' natural history and animal books and so on. Maybe find a theme like that?
posted by geek anachronism at 5:42 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Embrace her interests and keep your ears open for questions/problems you can help her figure out how to solve, and you'll start seeing the science in it all over the place.

For instance, there is a considerable amount of math and physics involved in making any type of costume. Lots of skills and principles that translate across science.
* Measuring!
* The standard way to determine fiber type is by burning a snippet and observing what happens while it's burning, the smell, the result. And oh look, it's a flow chart.
* Different types of fabric reflect and filter light differently. How can you use this to get the effect you want?
* Those wings or that crown...what kind of reinforcement is needed to make it stand up without flopping over or being too heavy? And what are some different ways to do this? (Stiffen the material with glue, sew backing to it, make a wire frame, etc.)
posted by desuetude at 6:06 PM on January 28, 2014

How about identification books? Easy ones, for rocks, birds, flowers, trees, insects, butterflies. Then take her on some hikes and use the books. Be prepared to go slow and look at everything.

My kids (including my daughter who is now 14 and ONLY wears dresses, but never identified herself as a princess) all liked the Eye Witness DK books. They have about two pages per sub topic, which makes them easy to read and digest. There are at least a hundred titles in the series so you can give for many years to come.

Wall maps are cool - you can pinpoint where hurricanes, tornadoes earthquakes, forest fires and tsunamis are happening.

Wife of 445supermag
posted by 445supermag at 6:07 PM on January 28, 2014

You don't mention how she feels about getting dirty but gardening is a very good way to get girly girls into sciency stuff. Plants, bugs, rocks, dirt, all that.

Barring that, trying for a more maker type thing would be my fall back. Sewing and knitting take a lot of math and following diagrams and stuff, so I think of it as an ancillary to engineering. I've heard kids are super into friendship bracelets like this and some of the patterns are pretty complex.
posted by fiercekitten at 6:07 PM on January 28, 2014

I think princess to scientist may be a tough switch but I think an excellent point of commonality may be animals...who doesn't love the baby animals at the zoo? (Ok, zoos may have ethical issues themselves but maybe books on animals...). I think this is a great entry point. Also, cooking together- if you're her uncle she will probably like spending time with you regardless. Why not just walk in the woods or in the neighborhood and talk about what you see? I think curious and smart is a great combo, whether she ends up as a fashion designer or as a nuclear physicist, or both!
posted by bquarters at 6:17 PM on January 28, 2014

Tell her about Sally Ride.

Sally Ride FTW
posted by Snell's Constant at 6:40 PM on January 28, 2014

I was once a five year old girl interested in princesses, dress-up, and shiny baubles.

Someone gave me one of Insectlore's butterfly kits. And I loved it. I loved it hardcore. I was so into butterfly biology after that. I spent summers capturing cabbage whites in my backyard. I also liked space and identification books. And geodes.

Try and weave tech/science things into her interests if you can (girly stuff and science/tech stuff are not mutually exclusive), and if she expresses interest in anything science/tech-related, encourage it! When I was nine, I would have loved it if I had a cool uncle willing to teach me HTML so I could make my Neopets' pages awesome.

And yeah, don't shame her for wearing dresses and loving pink princesses or whatever. I wear dresses while I transform E. coli in the lab, repair computers, or mess around in Python. The key to getting me where I am today was encouragement from adults who believed in me and thought I could program or succeed in science, especially when I was surrounded by seriously awful dudebros.
posted by topoisomerase at 6:43 PM on January 28, 2014 [1 favorite]

Kitchen science!!

Like solar panel s'mores and gummy bear experiments.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 8:05 PM on January 28, 2014

A friend of mine just started a company making science-y clothes for girls who like dresses and frills and et cetera.

She can't be the only one. When it's time to get clothes, you can get something that lends into both. (Memail me if you have trouble and want her company's info).
posted by nat at 9:03 PM on January 28, 2014

Fashion can have a lot of science - there's classifying, materials (explaining different fabrics - take her to a fabric store and buy lots of little swatches of different textiles and you can talk about choosing different fabrics, where they came from (silk!) and historical fashions and lead into materials engineering stuff like building fairy wings with fabric and wire that are super light to wear, and then how wet silk (mermaids!) is super strong and so on.

Drawing fashion is pattern drafting and geometry and there's so much technical skill involved. Buy her a lightbox for tracing patterns and lots of colour pens and glitter and what have you - show her how to do tessellations and other patterns to decorate her dolls' clothes.

If you have a garden accessible, build an outdoor doll house. One of my fondest memories is digging caves and archways and little bridges inbetween for a hillside palace inhabited by my barbie dolls. You could plant flowers (biology!) and create an outdoor summer village for all her dolls with architecture and geology involved.

Look out for books on science about women. Not just books for girls, but books celebrating female engineers and scientists. Being interested in clothes and make-up does not negate science any more than being interested in sports would for a boy.

Pinterest is your friend for activities for kids! Girls for Science, Doing science! and Girl Scouts' Science should get you started.
posted by viggorlijah at 9:34 PM on January 28, 2014

Is she at all crafty? Maybe there's stuff that she likes that would be cool to make together? I'm thinking shiny jewelry and other princessy things.
How about a tiara with blinky LEDs? Magnetic ear studs? Engineering and crafts go together very well if you want them to.
Check out, there's bound to be projects on there that she'd find fun.
posted by Too-Ticky at 12:46 AM on January 29, 2014

Secondong GoldieBlox, this is exactly what they are for.
posted by DarlingBri at 4:05 AM on January 29, 2014

One big downvote for Goldieblox. I was facing the exact same conundrum with an incredibly bright six year old daughter who can spend hours in Minecraft or Lego building activities.
The goldieblox set is flimsy and difficult to work with and she stopped playing with it after the first day.

Actually, no one has mentioned it yet, but what about Minecraft? It inspires the same spatial/geometrical concepts as lego, allows for role-playing, gaming, cause/effect building...there are versions for PC/IOS and android. My kids both love it.
posted by exparrot at 7:02 AM on January 29, 2014

Liking the outdoors and getting dirty is not a prerequisite for having an interest in science. Think about the stereotypical nerd. He's not an outdoorsy sort of person, but nobody assumes he can't be interested in science because of that.
There are lots of science-related activities you can do without getting particularly dirty. Not liking to get dirty doesn't mean she can't be interested in science.
posted by Anne Neville at 7:56 AM on January 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

Ask Metafilter: Be a Princess Engineer

A customizable camera for your princess engineer to do her royal data collection.
posted by otherchaz at 10:10 AM on January 29, 2014

Watch out for stereotypes. There really is no reason why someone couldn't be interested in both science and fashion. Think about it, what reason could there be for that? The idea that those things are incompatible is based in stereotypes of people who are interested in science (with possibly some sexism thrown in). Not everybody who is interested in science fits those stereotypes, of course.
posted by Anne Neville at 10:23 AM on January 29, 2014 [1 favorite]

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