American Girl's 2018 Girl of the Year Is Luciana Vega Aspiring Astronaut

American Girl is ringing in 2018 with the debut of Luciana Vega™, the 2018 Girl of the Year™! Luciana is a champion of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) who, like a lot of young tweens and teens today, puts her heart into making her dreams into a reality. American Girl’s doll of the year for 2018 is an aspiring astronaut who happens to be only 11 years old. This is American Girl's 16th Doll of the Year!!

American Girl's 2018 Girl of the Year Is Luciana Vega - Aspiring Astronaut

Luciana is the newest doll in American Girl’s line of dolls, which depicts girls of diverse backgrounds and interests. Luciana comes to life for my youngest daughter with a beautiful 18-inch Luciana™ doll. She has dark-brown hair and warm brown eyes, and is wearing an outfit that reflects her personal flair for adding a bit of sparkle to everything.  

My youngest daughter is quite literally the mirror image of Lucina Vega, except she has yet to attend Space Camp. This past summer we visited Kennedy Space Center in Florida and if you have a space-loving daughter, I would highly recommend this adventure. After we toured the Journey to Mars Mission at KSC, my daughter informed me she was going to be one of the first astronauts on Mars. Up until that point, I knew she loved planets and space, but didn't realize she wanted to visit! New this year at KSC are two adventures, the Astronaut Training Experience (ATX) and the Mars Base 1. I can pretty much guarantee my daughter will soon be attending both of these new programs as well as Space Camp.

At present time there are 9 women astronauts that have been inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame. My aspiring astronaut finds this astonishing! Presently, there are approximately 60 women astronauts who have flown into space, and there are currently 10 female astronauts who have yet to fly in space. My daughter, and many other young girls today are going to change this! NASA will need many talented scientists, engineers, and astronauts in the future as they prepare for this Mars adventure.

American Girl's 2018 Girl of the Year Is Luciana Vega - Aspiring Astronaut

STEM

(science, technology, engineering, mathematics)

Being a home educator, I have been able to instill a love for STEM in my daughter (well, all of my children really). When my kids were younger they loved nothing more than studying science and doing experiments all day long. If I could turn a much loved topic into a study unit, I did.

Thankfully, all of my children really enjoy science and math and they all really excel in these courses. My son is in high school and currently attends a Math, Engineering and Science High School for gifted students. My youngest daughter, 11 years old herself and in 6th grade, was just selected as her class representative to compete in a national math test for her school. She has dreams of attending Space Camp this summer, but the "week-long-sleep-away-from-home" is holding her off a bit. We are still mulling the idea over if we need to wait until age 12 ☺

American Girl's 2018 Girl of the Year Is Luciana Vega - Aspiring Astronaut

As I said, we are a science-focused household. We have raised larvae (to butterflies), chicks (from incubation stage), ladybugs, and quail. We have had tubs full of worms in my dining room studying their habits for months.  Anything really to broaden my kids’ interest(s) in the sciences. My house is fully stocked with microscopes, telescopes, and various science materials, books and tools that inspire and empower my children to bring their ideas to reality. STEM education creates critical thinkers, increases science literacy, and enables the next generation of innovators, and I want my children to be great innovative thinkers! Innovation leads to new products and processes that sustain our economy. My teaching theory has always been about making math and science both fun and interesting and to help my children to do much more than just learn.

Science really is our natural world; the sun, moon and stars, lands and oceans, the weather, natural disasters included as sad as they are, the diversity of nature, animals (large and small), all the plants and food that we eat and that animals eat. There is also the fuel that heats our homes and powers all our vehicles. These lists are endless. If we don't tell out children about all these things and how they all work together, they simply do not know or will never foster an interest in these subjects or topics. 

In today’s world, Technology means tablets and smartphones; but when I was a child, technology was having an Atari or your own tv in your bedroom. Engineering is what brings all aspects of today's world together, but there is always room for improvements. Math is everywhere, this is something I tell my grumbling kiddos when they are complaining that they will never need math when they are adults! You will literally use math everyday for the rest of your life, especially if a career is selected in a STEM field.

American Girl's 2018 Girl of the Year Is Luciana Vega - Aspiring Astronaut

STEM is important to our youth today and children must be given the opportunities to explore more STEM concepts in school and in other activities. My husband is an Engineer and currently in the Technology field and I was a Financial Analyst prior to having children and naturally, we would love if all our children pursued a job in a STEM field. We want our children, and more specifically, our daughters,  prepared for the future.

Young girls, tweens and teens today need support in their pursuit of careers in STEM -- science, technology, engineering and mathematics. 80% of future jobs require a STEM education and STEM occupations are growing at a rate of about 17%. Currently only 10% of high school girls show an interest in STEM. My niece just started college this past fall and selected Engineering and she is almost the only girl in all her Engineering classes. (this is so sad to me), but we applaud her courage and are some of her biggest fans for selecting this great field to study!

American Girl's 2018 Girl of the Year Is Luciana Vega - Aspiring Astronaut

A funny story I have to tell is my daughters have been receiving a copy of Boys Life magazine for the past 5 years . . . not Girls Life, but Boys Life!! They like Boys Life because it relates to them more than fashion and nail polish! Boys Life writes about becoming an astronaut and other STEM topics. These magazine showcase how outdated stereotypes are that girls aren't good (or even like) at math and science, and this ultimately hold girls back. I am my daughters biggest fan and will continue to build them up, even if they lose confidence in their own abilities and interests as they get older. 

I want to continually find opportunities for my daughter to learn what it feels like when they work hard toward a goal that, at first, feels achievable. Just like Luciana Vega worked towards her goal, it is a particularly important message for girls who, in their tweens and early teen years, may not have had many challenges academically or otherwise. When a subject or task becomes difficult, it may be easier to just bypass the task or give up completely; but we must remember to continually challenge our daughters as much as we challenge our sons. When something is difficult, we must remind our daughters that the task is doable, put in the work and follow your passion and dreams and they will come true. 

American Girl's 2018 Girl of the Year Is Luciana Vega - Aspiring Astronaut

American Girl's 2018 Girl of the Year:

Luciana Vega

Luciana Vega is a champion of STEM and empowers girls to defy stereotype and embrace risks that will teach them about failure ad success as they chart their own course in life, whatever the goal. Luciana Vega is about fostering and building girls of strong character and also encouraging girls to take the lead to change and embrace their character. #CharacterCounts

American Girl's 2018 Girl of the Year Is Luciana Vega - Aspiring Astronaut

Luciana comes with a beautiful galaxy dress, silver boots and two fun necklaces as well as a wrap-around-the-waist bag. Additional Luciana products and books are available in American Girl stores and online now.  There is a Robotic Dog, Maker Station, Backpack with mementos from Space Camp, Telescope Projector Set, Visitor Center Accessories, and even a Mars Habitat.

American Girl's 2018 Girl of the Year Is Luciana Vega - Aspiring Astronaut

Also available for purchase are two books about Luciana, written by Erin Teagan. The first book, Luciana, is about Luciana's adventures at Space Camp where she earned the role of team captain for her prize winning essay that earned her a scholarship in order to even attend Space Camp. She is challenged in ways she never thought she would be. The second book in this series, Luciana: Braving the Deep, Luciana is leaving for youth astronaut training camp. She hopes to be chosen to dive to an underwater habitat where real astronauts train for life in space. Her self confidence is tested, as in a natural process of life, and she learns some very important life skills and lessons that will enable her to become a courageous young girl who will one day be on the planet Mars. 

American Girl's 2018 Girl of the Year Is Luciana Vega - Aspiring Astronaut

Going above and beyond, American Girl has partnered with Scholastic, NASA and Space Camp to launch "Blast off to Discover," a STEM program for kids inspired by Luciana's story who want to learn about space through activities, videos and games. This educational program will focus on helping third though fifth-grade students explore the wonder of space through Luciana-inspired content, including lesson plans, classroom activities, videos and a game. The program will begin Jan. 31 on Scholastic's website.

Families and hopeful attendees of Space Camp also can enter a "Mission to Mars Sweepstakes" where families will go on a series of weekly missions for a chance to win several prizes, including a grand prize trip to win a trip to Space Camp beginning on February 5th.

Luciana Vega Events

Other Luciana Vega-related initiatives being held throughout the year include the following:

  • Luciana Vega Online Play: Girls can visit the Luciana-dedicated site at American Girl for free book excerpts, videos, mission inspired activities, wallpaper and e-cards, and much more.

  • American Girl WorldApp: Fans can step into the worlds of Luciana and their other favorite American Girl characters and experience their stories in a whole new way. The app is available to download later in January through the Apple App Store, Google Play, and Amazon Kindle.

  • Luciana Videos: Girls can visit #TeamAGLife on YouTube and watch the 2018 Girl of the Year.

  • Luciana Retail Events: On January 1, American Girl stores nationwide are hosting Luciana's Debut Event, where girls can celebrate the company's first STEM-themed character with fun, interactive science demonstrations, a Moon Phase craft, galaxy-inspired treats, and a free Luciana doll tee to take home. For more details, visit americangirl.com/retail.

  • Luciana-Themed Space Camp: Girls and their families can train just like astronauts—including taking a tumble spin in the Multi-Axis Trainer and designing a robot—at a special Girl of the Year experience created in partnership with Space Camp starting in summer 2018. American Girl is also sponsoring 20 scholarships to attend Space Camp. To learn more, visit americangirl.com/meetluciana.

The Luciana Vega collection is available on January 1, 2017, through American Girl's catalogue; at American Girl website; at all American Girl retail locations nationwide; at American Girl specialty boutiques at select Indigo™ and Chapters™ in Canada and at Toys "R" Us stores starting in March.  The Luciana Vega books can also be purchased through retail and online booksellers.

Thank you to American Girl Doll for gifting us with Luciana Vega. We can't wait to share our images for the #GOTY2018 and #CharacterCounts campaigns.  All opinions are my own. Images courtesy of American Girl Doll Place and used with permission.