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Luciana Vega’s Launch Into Space

American Girl Launch Party at the Space and Rocket Center.

Ella Waddell, Writer, photographer

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On January 1, 2018, Luciana Vega, the newest American Girl doll was released by Mattel. She is of Chilean descent and dreams of being the first girl on Mars. Showing interest in robotics and engineering, she attends Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. Mattel and NASA worked together secretly for eighteen months to ensure that every piece of this doll would be accurate.

Recently, Space and Rocket Center hosted the launch party for the newest addition to American Girl doll collection. Among the attendees were female astronauts and engineers teaching girls about life in space and the newest technologies on Earth. Girls were introduced to 3D printing, basic robotics and programming, and how scientists conduct experiments in space for the first time.

The president of American Girl, Katy Dickson, explained the doll‘s importance as she discussed her own life as a graduate of Huntsville High School, and how she had once attended Space Camp. That trip led her towards the path of STEM and eventually the Air Force. She ended up designing missile defense systems for America before she retired. She believes that Luciana’s story will encourage girls of all ages to pursue a career in STEM. Luciana’s story shows that girls can become champions of STEM, defy stereotypes, learn from both successes and failures, and show that girls have the ability to change the world. To end her speech, she announced that she would donate $20,000 to Space Camp towards scholarships for young girls and that The Space and Rocket Center will have Luciana themed Space Camp options this year.

Dr. Rhea Seddon, one of the first six female astronauts, spoke about the grant given by American Girl, “I am just amazed at the generosity of American Girl. I know that you will always remember your dolls throughout your lifetime. They helped you to be brave, helped you to learn, and they help you dream about what kind of person you would be someday. When I was your age, believe it or not, I had always dreamed of becoming an astronaut. I want you to dream because sometimes dreams do come true.”

Bob Jones engineering teacher Jessye Gaines also attended the event and stated that the importance of this doll doesn’t send the message that every little girl has to go into STEM. Something like that is unrealistic because we all don’t have those interests. However, it shows girls that this is one other cool way to be a girl. Gaines recalled on the event saying, “ There were so many young girls that day who had baby dolls with them. This is typically what we see when we think about what toys girls like, and we can stereotype. We will give little girls baby dolls and they will like to play house. That’s kinda setting them up to think that all they can do in life is be a mom. Normally with boys, they will have something like legos and they are building things. So, it’s more like spatial visualization skills. They are all really closely tied to engineering. But its really cool to take the baby doll that girls love and they turn it into a role model.”

Find out more about Luciana Vega here.

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Luciana Vega’s Launch Into Space