Based on the Parents’ Choice Foundation and Emmy-Award winning PBS Kids TV program, Design Squad Global is a hands-on engineering website created for innovative middle-school students who are fascinated by solving real-world problems.
The Design Squad Global homepage offers easy-click links to categories such as Wow, Watch, Enter and Play, plus a top-of-page menu that includes Games, Build and Design. So, from the start, the direction is clear: Young, creative, problem-solving future engineers will eagerly dive in.
How can you not start with the Wow category? On this particular day, the “wow” is definitely there in a compelling feature about “plant cocooning,” a low-tech invention created by a Dutch engineer that enables trees to grow in the dessert. You’ll be impressed.
Then, go ahead and click on More Wow, and you can access stories about How a Slinky Works; a student who designed a barrier that collects the ocean’s plastic trash without harming sea life; robotic chefs; and more.
The Watch links lead to videos about everything from inflatable sculptures and kayak construction to making compost tumblers and solar backpacks. The Play category provides step-by-step moves with voice-over instructions to handling engineering challenges. In Games, the challenges are demanding and still fun to figure out—from solving real-life problems during natural disasters to learning how picking different string tensions produce different sounds.
The Enter link leads upstart engineers to project challenges in which they can submit their own designs, from rubber-band tools and balloon cars to toothpick bridges and coins sorters. The Design function lets kids create their own contraptions; the Build link leads kids to instruction on how to make all sorts of things.
One of the extraordinary aspects of this website is the Global Kids connection where users can discover what engineering-inclined students worldwide are up to or about what ideas they want to hear from other reader/users.
This is a fun, hands-on site where designing and building is the bottom line, its contagious activities giving kids insight into engineering’s impact on real-world problems. Kids can create a free account; and the Parents and Techers section allows adults to monitor and lend a hand when needed.
Melissa and Bill presented a number of GBH digital projects at this year’s Games4Change Festival in NYC. Packed sessions saw Design Squad Global, Plum Landing, the Ruff Ruffman Show, Bringing the Universe to America’s Classrooms, Rare: Creatures on the Photo Ark, and Poisoner’s Handbook.
Players design and manage an aquaponics farm to grow food for our Fidgit characters.
Congratulations to the creative and hard-working team led by Melissa Carlson who made this happen: on development: Colin Egge with support from Kal Gieber; Stefan Mallette and Tara Taylor on design; Bill Shribman, Louise Flannery, and Lizzy Walbridge for production support; and our project leader, Marisa Wolsky.
Five fantastic finalists for the Design Squad Global Top Builder: Paper Structures challenge have been posted:
Voting is open through May 24th.
Congrats to Marisa, Melissa and the whole crew on Design Squad Global.
Also congrats go to our many friends across PBS KIDS. Yay public media!
Boston Globe feature on DSG.