Our friends at Design Squad Maker and GBH Boston PBS have an amazing new project we want to promote: their new Design Squad Maker tool-kit and app! Tailored for youth aged 8-11 and their caregivers, this offering arrives at the perfect time–ready for the summer vacation season. Read more about these organizations, their work, and their approaches to maker education below.
By engaging in engineering design activities, children have the opportunity to bring together scientific and mathematical concepts to solve real world problems. However, sustaining children’s interest in engineering can be a challenge. Some students lack opportunities to learn about engineering in the first place; a 2010 report found that only 10% of K-12 students were exposed to engineering in school (National Academy of Engineering, 2010). For those students who are exposed to engineering, interest and participation can decrease if they do not receive continued exposure and support (Paulsen, 2013). Museums, maker-spaces, and caregivers can all play an important role in sustaining children’s interest in engineering and provide opportunities for meaningful engagement with engineering activities, but they need accessible and innovative tools to do so. That is where Design Squad Maker can help!
Design Squad Maker is an engineering design program created by teams from GBH Boston (a leading producer of education STEM media) and the New York Hall of Science (a leader in museum and makerspace STEM programming). Design Squad Maker seeks to engage children in engineering design activities across different settings and over time. Together, children ages 8-11 and their caregivers come up with problems that they want to solve, brainstorm solutions, build prototypes, and test them to see how they work—engaging in the same steps that engineers use to solve real-world problems. Design Squad Maker was rigorously researched and created using a highly iterative development process to ensure the resources meet the needs of maker-spaces, museums and families.
The Design Squad Maker toolkit is a suite of free resources designed for children, caregivers, and maker-spaces. The toolkit includes:
Workshops are a central component of Design Squad Maker. During the 90-minute workshop, facilitators introduce the design process to children ages 8-11 and their families. Facilitators can choose one of the four themed design challenges, or they can create their own custom challenge using the provided template.
- Design Squad Maker App
During the workshop, families are introduced to the app which guides children through the steps of the design process. The app helps children identify the problems that matter to them, develop engineering solutions and document the process using the app’s notebook feature. At the end of the workshop, families are encouraged to use the app at home to finish their design project, start a new one, or do a quick activity!
- Take-Home Materials
Families leave the workshop with handouts that enable them to continue designing at home. A tips sheet provides information about the benefits of engineering design, ways to support children when they get frustrated, and suggestions for involving the whole family. An activity booklet helps families find the space, materials and time they need to keep making at home.
Thanks, Design Squad Maker and GBH Boston! We look forward to seeing how these tools can be used in and out of the classroom. Stay tuned for a webinar co-hosted by Maker Ed and GBH coming soon to talk more about this work.