Design Squad Nation is a highly engaging and effective way to teach kids to develop complex and original solutions to engineering problems. Teachers can start projects in the classroom and send kids home to finish them. The challenges are the best part of the site; they put learning in kids' hands and give teachers a way to connect the TV episodes to meaningful classroom experiences. For example, kids can earn recognition for creating the best bridge made of pennies or the farthest-traveling balloon-powered race car. The competitive aspect encourages creativity.Continue reading Show less
The Design Squad Nation website complements the PBS Kids television show "Design Squad," in which teenagers compete to create the most novel solutions to engineering challenges. The competitive aspect of activities, along with video demonstration of the brainstorming and prototyping that go into design, make the website a great learning tool for kids. All episodes from the show include closed captioning.
On the top navigation, kids can choose from Watch, Build, Share, Games, or Top Builder. The Watch section features "Design Squad" TV episodes, tagged by topic, along with videos that explore the science of everyday items like bicycle gears. The Build section includes ideas for hands-on projects that kids can complete with adult supervision, as well as links to related videos and a contact form to reach the stars of the show. In Share, kids can post design ideas and drawings in response to a range of questions like, "What would you build for the outdoors?" The Games section lets kids play interactive games that teach engineering concepts; kids don't need accounts unless they want to save and share their scores. Top Builder shows current and past design challenges.
High-quality, engineering-related games present interactive ways for kids to explore the problem-solving process. Kids with a wide range of reading and math skills will find games fun and engaging and, in addition to critical-thinking skills, may develop some math and science learning along the way.
Key Standards Supported
Ask questions and predict outcomes about the changes in energy that occur when objects collide.
Apply scientific ideas to design, test, and refine a device that converts energy from one form to another.
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Ask questions, make observations, and gather information about a situation people want to change to define a simple problem that can be solved through the development of a new or improved object or tool.
Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.
Develop a model to generate data for iterative testing and modification of a proposed object, tool, or process such that an optimal design can be achieved.
Motion and Stability: Forces and Interactions
Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.
Make observations and/or measurements of an object’s motion to provide evidence that a pattern can be used to predict future motion.
Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down.
Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object.
Analyze data to determine if a design solution works as intended to change the speed or direction of an object with a push or a pull.
Apply Newton’s Third Law to design a solution to a problem involving the motion of two colliding objects.