Disclosure: I was sent a Roominate Studio play set to write this review. All thoughts offered in this review are my own.
As most parents know, getting more girls interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) is a hot button issue right now. The need for females in these fields of study is obvious, the path to getting more women scientists and women engineers is less obvious. Many newer products are trying to entice the younger generation’s interest with STEM toys which are specially designed to appeal to young girls. One such product is the Roominate Studio, just one of several Roominate play sets on the market today. Roominate was designed by two female engineers, you can read more about how their product came to be on their website.
When you first open the box, there are two figurines (a girl and her dog) and three separate bags inside which are numbered in the order in which you’ll need them. The first of which holds the walls and round connector pieces.
The walls are plain white to start with but the kit comes with a variety of colored papers which you can use a bit of double sided tape (not included in the kit) to stick up onto the walls. Also included are small clip art type images of things like windows, lamps, books, etc.. which can be cut out and used to furnish and decorate the room.
I was very pleased to see that there was a wide range of colors beyond the typical pink and purple that most “girl’s toys” are limited to.
(I always hated pink as a child and, while my son is a fan of pink, my daughter prefers blue. So much for stereotypes.)
The next numbered bag held a variety of yellow and blue modular pieces which could be used to build just about anything.
Included in the bag is a slip of paper with pictures of some of the things you could make such as tables, beds, chairs, desks, etc.. but there really is no limit to the ways that these pieces could be used.
The third and final bag holds the motor circuit which can be used to build real spinning fans, windmills, carousels, etc..
Included in the kit is a tiny screw driver which the child is supposed to use to open up panel which covers the batteries. The one flaw we found in this entire play set was that this screw was stuck solid. When the children could not remove the screw themselves, I tried and even then it proved to be too difficult. In the end the entire part that held the screw in place just fell out along with the panel and another part that wasn’t supposed to come off. I still couldn’t get the screw off after it fell off, and there was no way to cover the batteries. Everything still worked as it should, but without the batteries being covered, it may be a mild safety concern. I conversed with a few others who have used this product and I’ve been assured that this is not a typical defect, the screw comes out just fine in most kits.
Besides that the motor circuit was easy to assemble. It was pretty obvious just from the tips of the wires which one connected where, but even if there was any questions, it would have been easy to figure out thanks to the easy to follow picture instructions that were included.
I really loved the way that this kit could be used to make anything. Unlike some other STEM products on the market for young girls, the Roominate Studio is truly open-ended and really encourages creativity. Also, the included girl and dog figurines are great for storytelling, something that appeals to many young girls.
With just a few small props (some cut paper for a camp fire, a toothpick and mini marshmellow) I was able to create something completely different than the packaging suggested.
Side note, I know that many parents worry about allowing their daughters to play with over sexualized dolls with make-up, exaggerated breasts, and revealing clothing. I was pleased to note that the included girl figurine was modeled and dressed to appear like a typical young girl. Very age appropriate.
I noted while watching my children play with the set that the plastic pieces were sturdy, very durable. I also noted that they were able to use the pieces in ways that I didn’t expect, again proving what an open-ended toy this is. Something else that came up in discussion while playing was angles, how different angles could be formed to create the different aspects of the room.
The Roominate Studio playset in summary:
- open-ended, encourages creativity
- durable, sturdy plastic pieces
- great fine motor practice
- hands on STEM, we especially experienced the hands-on mathematics
- variety of colors, not limited to typical “girl colors”
- age appropriate (not over sexed) doll/figurine
- kept children busy in collaborative play for several hours
- you’ll need batteries and tape, which are not included in the kit
- we did have a problem with the screw on panel that covered the batteries, however this is not a typical problem so I doubt you’ll run into it
All in all, I’d recommend the Roominate Studio play set as an educational and fun toy for any child aged 5-10.