STEM toy type: construction / circuits
Recommended age: 6-12 years
Roominate is a STEM toy aimed at girls designed by Standford Engineering students Alice Brooks and Bettina Chen. The two met and bonded as two of the few women studying engineering and discussed their stories about how they were inspired to go into their chosen field from playing with construction toys from a young age.
Roominate playsets combine construction, circuits, creativity and storytelling to inspire kids to build their own creations using skills including problem solving, motor skills, creativity and circuitry.
The toys aim to make STEM fun by turning the traditional doll house into whatever you want it to be with the fun of added electronics such as real flashing lights and fans that spin.
Roominate was founded as a Kickstarter campaign, pledging to make every girl an artist, engineer, architect and visionary. It raised over $85,000 to develop the products and also appeared on Shark Tank, achieving an extra $500,000 investment.
I love Roominate because it reminds me of when I was inspired to go into science and electronics at the age of 8 when a visiting teacher showed our class how to make circuits and we were challenged with the task of designing our own invention using electronic components. I made a working carousel that spun round and had flashing lights and later designed a t-shirt with integrated LEDs.
I’d always been a creative child, more into drawing and writing than math and science but I can look back and see that was a pivotal point for me (I ended up suprising everyone by choosing to study math and physics instead of going into the arts and eventually studied Computer Science at university).
The Roominate sets are all compatible so you can combine two or more play sets for a new creation. They encourage open-ended play and creativity – you make what you want instead of following instructions and the fun is basically endless. This isn’t one of those toys that your kids will get bored of in a few hours.
My daughter’s doll house is her favorite toy and she spends hours rearranging the furniture and making up stories with her dolls. I know she would LOVE this toy but she’s a a little young for it right now. I’m thinking it might be a possible Christmas present for next year ☺
The amazon reviews for these play sets are overwhelmingly positive with most shoppers saying they’re great for both boys and girls. I had to laugh at one reviewers comments who said her girls made houses, playgrounds, rides and vehicles, while the boys made weapons and a bunny killing machine! Boys will be boys!
I especially like that while Roominate is aimed at girls, it’s not overly pink and girly – there is some pink included in the components but it’s very unisex looking. As I have a girl and boy close in age and they share their toys, this is important to me.
Most kids dive right in and start creating but more timid kids or those who aren’t used to open-end play might need a little encouragement to get started – parents can get lots of ideas of creations to get started from the roominate website.
So lets take a look at the products:
Roominate Studio is a 70-piece set including:
This set comes with Alice, an “artsy engineer” who likes to craft and design anything and everything from cookies to robots. She likes making things with her saw and wants to be a mechanical engineer so she can design airplanes, toys and cool kitchen gadgets.
This is one of the smaller sets so the number of different things you can make with it is somewhat limited but it’s a good basic set to start your collection and is very affordable so it’s a good way to test the waters if you’re not sure if your child will like this type of toy.
In terms of electronics it comes with a motor, which can be used to make a fan, carousel, windmill etc, but lacks the lights that come with some of the larger sets.
Roominate Chateau is a 131-piece set including:
This is one of the mid-range building sets from the collection and is one of the most popular. It’s a good starting set to buy with enough pieces to create lots of different setups.
The wall and floor panels can be used to build any kind of structure and the modular furniture building pieces can be used to create beds, chairs, a spiral staircase or whatever your imagination can come up with!
The motor and battery packs can be used to power a spinning windmill or carousel as well as lighting.
The little doll that comes in this set is named Bettina who’s dream job is an electrical engineer. She likes playing ultimate Frisbee, programming games and playing with her pet bunny hoppy. Her favorite tool is her soldering iron which she uses for everything from making jewelry to creating cool lights for her room.
This deluxe kit includes almost twice as many pieces at the basic set including:
This set contains more decorative elements than some of the other sets (stickers and felt etc) so would be great for creative girls who love crafting and decorating.
This 282-piece set includes:
This is one of the largest sets available from Roominate and contains enough pieces to build a giant light-up Ferris wheel, spinning merry-go-round, swinging pirate ship, concession stands with cotton candy maker and more.
This starter building set includes:
This is the smallest playset available from roominate and is a nice and affordable way to try out the toy if you’re not sure it’s for you. It can also be used as an add-on set to expand one of the other play sets.
This 44-piece set includes:
As this set doesn’t come with the wall and floor building pieces that many of the other kits do, it’s more suited for building vehicles, furniture and other objects than houses. The kit has three suggested designs: a helicopter, airplane or submarine, but with all the kits the only limit is your child’s imagination!
This 121-piece kit includes
There are enough building pieces to build a 3 storey house with furniture and kids who love playing and decorating doll houses will enjoy constructing and decorating their own housing designs. The motor can be used to create a windmill, blender, pottery wheel, carousel, elevator or anything else your imagination can come up with.
This expansion pack includes:
it’s designed as an add-on pack to expand one of the other play sets and doesn’t come with any electronic components.
This 88-piece set includes:
This is not quite as open-ended as some of the other design packs but there’s lots of room for creativity to design your own RV, food truck, bus etc and furnish and decorate it with bunk beds, tables, slides, ladders and more.
This is a physical controller with 2 cable convertors that can be used in conjunction with any of the Roominate playsets to add a further dimension to your children’s play. The controller is used with the Roominate app and plug in circuits to change the speed of the motor, program the lights to blink or turn on and off.
some reviewers complained that there was a limit to the circuits included in the roominate play sets as there was no way to control how fast the motors spin so this add-on is a great way to increase the scope of your kids creations and learn more about electronics.