Like most women of today, the “girl” toys available to Kristel Bell as a kid were for playing princess or mommy. As an adult, she was surprised to see that girls’ toys hadn’t changed much at all. Boys’ toys, in contrast, were already teaching critical skills in serious subjects: science, technology, engineering and math. It was no surprise that so many girls were losing confidence in those subjects as early as the age of nine. 

Growing up, Bell was inspired to love STEM by watching her mom, who had an early career in computer science. Now, she is on a mission to spark the same passion in the next generation of leaders.

Bell created Surprise Powerz, a line of STEM-focused, educational dolls because she believes in the power of girls. She understood that to instill confidence and encourage STEM learning from preschool age, girls need visual examples that look and sound like them.

Her first products are Astro, Codie, Vera and Maria— science, tech, engineering and math-centric dolls made to break barriers, solve problems, and reflect the diversity of girls today. Each 16-inch-tall soft doll speaks over 75 phrases, singalongs and sound effects that engage little learners in the fascinating worlds of science, technology, engineering, and math. Bell’s hope is that her dolls will equip girls with critical skills including curiosity, creativity and problem solving, all while having fun.

Image: courtesy of Surprise Powerz

In addition to founding Surprise Powerz, Bell also founded a nonprofit in 2016 called Black Girls Movement, where she helps black girls gain equal access to STEM education and resources. She holds about 10 years of global marketing experience from companies including United Airlines and People magazine, and is a proud member of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).