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PBS Design Squad

I grew up enjoying Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street, The Electric Company and Zoom on PBS. (Catch me home sick and you’ll find me tuned in to PBS laughing and psyched that they do such a good job educating kids and families—FYI: I don’t have kids at home!) A few months ago, I came across Design Squad , one of the newer shows on PBS that’s aimed at getting kids (and others like me) excited about engineering. It’s a reality show with each episode pitting eight high school students against one another (often as teams) as they try to find solutions for engineering challenges—for example, how can a women’s collective in Haiti make peanut butter at little overhead cost; i.e. without electricity and heavy machinery. It’s creative, entertaining, and engaging.

I recently spoke with Susan Buckey at the WGBH Educational Foundation, one of the program sponsors. I noted that the program really did a great job to connect with the female contestants (and audience). Susan said one reason for this is because PBS relied on data from a needs assessment through the Extraordinary Women Engineers Project to develop the script and tasks. The goals of the needs assessment were to gauge high school girls’ interest, assess career motivators, and explore messaging opportunities. Good data came out of it.

Design Squad, as most of the children’s programming on PBS, offers kids, parents, educators and other professionals excellent resources on its website. Tune in or log on and see for yourself!

Posted by Pat for Donna