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.
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.