What did you dream of becoming at 11 years old? If you ask Luciana Vega, this determined girl will tell you she’s an aspiring astronaut who dreams of being the first person to go to Mars. Vega was revealed on Good Morning America Dec. 28 as American Girl’s 2018 Girl of the Year.
“Luciana is our first character that’s really immersed in STEM,” Rebecca Dekuiper, a designer at American Girl, said in a video about the making of Luciana. “We’ve had STEM products before, but we really wanted to do a whole character to show girls that STEM is cool.”
In order to develop Vega’s inspiring storyline and product line, American Girl worked with the best of the best: Dr. Megan McArthur Behnken, a NASA Astronaut; Dr. Ellen Stofan, former NASA chief scientist; Dr. Deborah Barnhart, CEO of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and Maureen O’Brien, the manager of strategic alliances at NASA.
From providing professional feedback on the authenticity of Vega’s story to the activities she participates in, these astronauts have set the foundation for an incredibly motivating character that will inspire a generation of girls to come.
Katy Dickson, the president of American Girl, called Luciana “a champion of STEM and a natural-born leader,” in a statement announcing her as the brand’s 2018 girl of the year.
“Luciana is a role model for today’s girls—empowering them to defy stereotypes, embrace risks and failures, and chart their own course in life—whatever the goal,” Dickson added.
Written by Erin Teagan and published by Scholastic, a three-book series about her character will follow Luciana as she wins a scholarship to attend Space Camp in Huntsville, Alabama. The books follow her journey as she becomes an astronaut trainee. Among the accessories available with Luciana will be a flight suit, a space suit and a Mars habitat.
The 18-inch doll, featuring brown eyes and dark hair, and full product line including “STEM-inspired outfits and accessories” will launch in stores, online and through American Girl’s catalog on Jan. 1.
So, parents of STEM- and doll-loving kids, get your pocketbooks ready!