Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Design Squad Nation

Design Squad Nation

Spring 2012 Television
Ages: 9 - 12 yrs.
Producer: WGBH TV
Rating: TV Y

Build. Create. Find innovative solutions to problems. Those are the excellent messages conveyed by Design Squad Nation, a show designed to illustrate the practical applications of engineering.

The PBS show invites kids to be inventors and to bring about change. With engineer hosts Adam and Judy, any dream can come true, providing you've got time to make the plans and put on the tool belt. The team doesn't pull out a protractor and show how bridges are built. Instead, the hosts tackle kid-inspired projects, such as creating a bike-powered musical instrument and building a skateboarding park. Kids help from start to finish, and the result is that they get a sense of ownership and pride in the project.

For example, in one episode, skateboarding kids in Whiteriver, Arizona, have no place to skate, so they are left to navigate the street. The situation has led to trouble for the kids and the community. Enter the Design Squad. The skateboarding kids explain what they need-rails and ramps and other features of a great skate park-and Adam and Judy help design it with them, providing tools and materials, and working with the kids to build it all.

Anyone watching the show will be inspired to build something, and they will believe that it's possible to create and accomplish projects that may seem too big at first. It's also a wonderful way to show any budding engineer the possibilities that await him or her.

Ann Oldenburg   ©2012 Parents' Choice
Ann Oldenburg, lecturer and interim director of the journalism program at Georgetown University, writes about television, food, workplace issues and other pop culture topics. A University of Florida Gator with a degree in journalism, she began her career at The Washington Post and spent more than two decades with USA TODAY. She and her husband have three sons and live in McLean, Virginia.

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