DSG Helps Kids Learn about Engineering with Peers from around the Globe

Design Squad Global on PBS KidsDesign Squad Global, the digital and out-of-school initiative, created by Boston public media producer WGBH, that develops engineering skills and cross-cultural engagement for kids ages 10 to 13, is launching 127 new clubs in February and March across the United States—in Austin, TX, Palm Beach, FL, Los Angeles, CA, and other locations—and in 12 countries, including Jordan, Kenya, Cambodia, China, and Nigeria. The program is empowering kids in after-school programs around the world to work together on engineering projects that address the needs in their communities. Design Squad Global resources are available on PBS LearningMedia and pbskids.org/designsquad.

Design Squad Global club leaders are supporting the development of global competency in their students through cross-cultural collaboration with their partner clubs. “I like the connection between the groups. My kids really have enjoyed seeing the way the other kids attempted [to solve engineering] problems,” said Lori Stolaski, DSG club leader at St. Thomas Aquinas Academy in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Her club was partnered with a club at Trung Vuong Middle School in Hanoi, Vietnam. “It is nice for the kids to see that despite being [from different places] around the world, the other kids are very much like them!”

DSG clubs are now being implemented at 231 afterschool programs in 72 U.S. cities and 18 countries, reaching approximately 2,772 students and in countries that include the U.S., Australia, Botswana, Brazil, Cambodia, China, Costa Rica, Haiti, Jordan, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Africa, Swaziland, and Vietnam. “This entire experience was truly a pleasure. My students looked forward to our sessions each week,” said Samm Mcelvaney, a DSG club leader from the La Paz Community School in Santa Cruz, Costa Rica, matched with a club at the Richard Murphy School in Boston.

“Since we’ve launched Design Squad Global, club leaders in the U.S. and around the world have told us that their students, who would otherwise not have the chance to interact and learn about each other, are discovering first-hand how teamwork and collaboration can lead to deeper understanding and more effective engineering solutions, which is critical for promoting cross-cultural understanding,” said Marisa Wolsky, Executive Producer of Design Squad Global.

“The ability to think critically in a global context is being increasingly recognized as an essential skill for future generations,” says Terry Fitzpatrick, WGBH VP for Children’s Media and Education. “Research has shown that DSG is having a measurable impact on the engineering and global competency skills in youth around the world.”

Information about starting a DSG club and other club resources can be found on PBS LearningMedia and the Design Squad Global website. Visitors to the DSG site can play games like Fidgets to the Rescue!, which challenges kids to design ways to deliver emergency supplies after a natural disaster. They also can watch fun videos featuring DSG hosts and role models Deysi Melgar and Nate Ball and kid engineers who take on engineering design challenges like 3D printing items that make everyday tasks easier for senior citizens, or crafting a physical therapy scooter for kids out of wood.

DSG is made possible with support from the National Science Foundation and The Lemelson Foundation. Clubs are disseminated through a coalition of strategic partners, including FHI 360 (which also provided training and technical assistance to Clubs internationally), Girl Scouts USA, YMCA of the USA and Global Centers of Excellence, DiscoverE, Sister Cities International, National Girls Collaborative Project, Society of Women Engineers, and Every Hour Counts.