Do you remember back in December, when we asked Chambanamoms.com readers to help out a University of Illinois student startup company devoted to inspiring girls? Well, the women from Miss Possible are back with a very impressive crowdfunding campaign (you might recognize some of the faces in their video). With a few days left until its Indiegogo closes, there’s still time for locals in Champaign-Urbana to help fund Miss Possible. And in return – for a $25 or higher pledge – you will be invited to a (to be scheduled) exclusive local event for chambanamoms.com backers – and their kiddos.
About the founders: Supriya Hobbs is a recent graduate in Chemical Engineering at the University of Illinois and is the Co-Founder and CEO of Miss Possible, and Janna Eaves is a rising senior in Materials Science & Engineering and the CTO and Co-Founder of Miss Possible. Throughout their undergraduate careers, both were actively involved in STEM outreach in classrooms in the C-U community.
To give to the Indiegogo fund, visit the Miss Possible page here – or read all about the company below, and head to Indiegogo later. Although they’ve already reached their first goal — help them reach their “STRETCH” goal of $85,000! Remember, in return – for a $25 or higher pledge – you will be invited to a (to be scheduled) exclusive local event for chambanamoms.com backers – and their kiddos!
Q: Tell us about your product and why you are so passionate about it.
We’re making dolls and apps that feature real women who made a difference in the world. The first doll, for example, is Marie Curie. Her app will tell the story of her life and engage kids in hands-on activities that let them learn about her fields of study, chemistry and physics! Janna and I both studied engineering, and were surprised to see that women were a minority in our classes. We both got involved volunteering at schools in the C-U community, taking science and engineering activities into classrooms, and that quickly became a passion for us. We were driven to study engineering by the desire to make a positive impact in the world, and we want to make sure other girls know they can make a difference.
Q: Why dolls?
Dolls are already really familiar to girls, so we thought this was a great way to introduce the characters of these strong role models. Also, using dolls and an app together gives us the ability to allow for imaginative play and educational activities, both of which are important ways for kids to develop through play.
Research shows that role models in these fields and early exposure to STEM are both really influential in girls’ eventual career choices. There are many programs now geared towards engaging girls in science and engineering from a young age, and I think these are really valuable and a lot of fun! My own experiences really echo what the research tells us. Both of my parents were chemists by training, so I had that early exposure to STEM fields and an excellent female role model in my mother. I remember visits to my dad’s work on “Take Your Kids to Work Day” as being really influential in my view of science; when I saw color-changing reactions and got to play with dry ice, I saw just how cool science could be!
Thank you! I think the biggest surprise was the amount of engagement we saw from our backers! We have gotten a lot of messages of support, and many people have shared their ideas for women that inspired them. I got a great message from one mom telling me her daughter asked to re-watch the video about “the dolls that love science”, as she called it. I also got an email from a 9-year-old who had some awesome ideas for accessories that we can make for Marie. I love that people have been so willing to engage with us as we launch these products and our company! Another big surprise was the amount of buzz that this project has created. Melinda Gates tweeted an article about us and I’ve had several women who I consider role models reach out to me because they heard about the project and believe in what we’re doing. That has been really exciting!
The feedback we got from the Chambanamoms.com helped us identify the characters that we decided to feature in our first three dolls! We loved hearing about the characteristics that they valued in their role models and the women that inspired them. We made sure that our first three featured women embodied these traits, and the response to our choices has been extremely positive!
We’re enlisting the help of our backers to choose the fourth doll! Voting has started, and the link is available exclusively to people who have contributed to our campaign, so even a small contribution gives people the opportunity to have their vote heard! Also, if they’re interested in being among the first to test our product, they should email me at firstname.lastname@example.org! We are planning to do some science activity sessions to test the app in the Champaign-Urbana area, and we’re always looking for kids interested in playing with science!
We made our first goal of $75,000 so we are going to be able to do a first production run of the Marie Curie dolls! The design is done for that, so we’re working out the details of manufacturing. The next project on our hands is developing and testing the app, then moving onto more characters!