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

Design Squad

Design Squad

Fall 2015 Website

This energetic website is the online offshoot of the PBS kids' TV show "Design Squad Nation" and of its predecessor, the award-winning PBS reality-competition series "Design Squad" in which teens brainstorm creative solutions to engineering challenges.

The website, like the shows, is all about engaging kids with hands-on projects that make science and engineering relevant and fascinating. The pedigree is good; so is the content.

Go to the Design Squad Nation website and explore its approximately 265 video segments, each of them exploring an interesting design question ("How do you build a skateboard?" or "Why do boats float?" or "How does a zipper work?") or explaining the engineering behind various projects and devices (building a better cup, making a perfect pancake, making a better cat feeder, etcetera). They're divided into 14 categories, from Sports, Art and Music to Animals, Vehicles and Food, that introduce the technological revolution into all aspects of our daily lives.

Besides, the videos, Design Squad Nation also tests kids with engineering-style videogames, and provides answers on its Questions pages to queries such as "I'm bored…what should I do" to "How do you design something?" Parents and educators have their own section that includes Resources, Lesson Plans, Guides, Training, and third-party links to engineering events nationwide and an engineering club start-up site.

By joining Design Squad Nation with a simple, non-intrusive sign-up, teens can keep their scores on challenges, share their ideas, earn virtual stickers, and get points for design ideas. They can also go to the Top Builder, which shows current and past design challenges, and enter their own designs.

Like you'd expect from an innovative thinktank center, Design Squad Nation is a slightly cluttered, high-energy, totally engaging place where kids can brainstorm their own complex and original solutions to everyday engineering problems. For upstart teen scientists and engineers, this is an inspirational and possibly important safe place to go.

Don Oldenburg   ©2015 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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