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Num Noms & Computer Science: Disrupting the Pink Aisle

So I was at Target with my daughter, and hand-in-hand we headed straight for her favorite section of the store … the dreaded “Pink Aisle.”

You know the area — the dolls, babies, brooms, kitchen sets, make-up kits and dress-up costumes calls out to our daughters with a beacon of florescent pink while repelling boys like Kryptonite.

Amidst the sea of girldom is one of the newest arrivals, the Num Nom. What’s a Num Nom you ask? They’re these $3 to $6 containers of surprise toys where you don’t know what you get until you buy it and look inside. That’s right, spending good money on you-don’t-know-what dreaming about the potential of what it might be all the while hoping it’s something you don’t already have.

Six containers in tow I spent the entire length of our walk from the pink aisle to the cashier trying to explain to her how foolish it was to waste money in such a way. How ridiculous it was to spend money on something she did not even know if she wanted. How she might be buying something she already has. How she had a box full of these things and should just be content with what she already has. She just happily walked along riding out my verbal tirade on the value of a dollar. As I began to wind down she looked at me and asked if I was going to buy a package of baseball cards today. Oh snap!

Disrupting the Pink Aisle is about recognizing that girls have Num Noms like boys have baseball cards. The packaging is different but concept is the same. Num Noms developer MGA Entertainment created a vehicle so my daughter could collect and trade things just like I did when I was her age. Once I had perspective on what she was really doing her hobby is now ours, and we do it without discussing the cost.

As parents and educators sometimes it can be difficult seeing the forest for the trees as I did with Num Noms. Computer Science (CS) can be the same way. For the most part it is being viewed and approached the same tired old way with baseball cards instead of Nom Nums leaving half our population alienated.

I am calling on you to be like MGA Entertainment and Disrupt the Pink Aisle by repackaging the CS concept. Our lady Cadets need to know that CS is an exciting, creative, collaborative, in-demand and high paying career field. They need to know that CS is part of every industry from marine biology to fashion design. They need to know that CS is looking for women like education seeks male elementary teachers. They need to know they can be a creator of the future opposed to just its consumer.

Concordia offers the largest high school computer science program in the area with three introductory dual-credit CS classes. Encourage your daughters, sisters, nieces, girlfriends, and girl friends to take advantage of our resources — compete with a robot, build a full-size arcade game, make a lighted fish tank, learn to code … inspire them to disrupt the pink aisle and try a CS class at Concordia!

Scott Storm,
Computer Science Teacher & Director of Educational Technology