Supriya Hobbs and Janna Eaves were engineering students at the University of Illinois when they looked around and realized something that so many females in science and engineering fields run up against: There were very few other women in their classes. Hobbs and Eaves started brainstorming about ways to get girls more involved in engineering, and in 2013, the pair submitted their idea to the Cozad New Venture Competition, a business competition at their school. The Miss Possible line of dolls was born.
Starting with a doll modeled after Nobel Prize winner Marie Curie, the line will feature strong female role models from history, along with an accompanying app that has new content for each doll. "It's not just about getting girls excited about engineering. It's important to show girls all the opportunities available to them," says Hobbs.
On her Indiegogo campaign site, Hobbs explains that her mother, a former organic chemistry student who later moved in to the business world, was her role model. But not every girl has a real-life example like that, she says. Hence, the dolls.
After Curie, the next dolls will be modeled after Bessie Coleman, the first African-American female aviator, and Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer. Backers of the Miss Possible crowdfunding campaign can vote on the fourth doll.
The Miss Possible app is still in development, but will eventually feature activities and games related to each role model's life. "Marie Curie will be on screen showing off chemistry and physics activities," says Hobbs. While they can't allow kids to play with radiation like Curie did, instead, one of the Curie-inspired activities is a DIY compass—all that's required to build it is a paper clip, water, bowl, and a magnet.
The Miss Possible project is a kindred spirit to GoldieBlox, another crowdfunded series of toys designed to get girls excited by math, science, and technology. Hobbs says the idea for Miss Possible didn't stem directly from GoldieBlox, but that she has been inspired by the company's success. "I think we're all sort of working towards the same mission," she says. "I've been surprised by how collaborative it is, how much they've been willing to mentor."