Parents, Educators & Engineers

Dream It. Build It. Teach It!

Get kids excited about engineering.

January 2011 Archives

It's a big day here at Design Squad Nation. It's the premiere of our first episode, Apache Skateboarders!

Our season of high adventure engineering begins on the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona. Adam and Judy team up with Ronnie--a 17-year-old member of the 4 Wheel War Pony skateboarding team--to build a skateboarding street course. Engineered to be modular, durable, and weather-resistant, this is the skate park of Ronnie's dreams.

Totally rad, right? But how can you use this episode as a teaching tool? Why, I'm so glad I asked. Here's the rundown:

Use Apache Skateboarders to teach Force and Energy. Pair it with resources from our online library, especially for educators. Everything you need is here.
  1. Introduce the concepts with the animation How Can Potential Energy Be Used to Do Work? (30 sec.)
  2. Show the Apache Skateboarders episode (26 min.)
  3. Challenge kids to explore energy, hands-on, by building a Rubber Band Car. (45 min.)
  4. Make career connections with video profiles of engineers in related fields. Show Roller Coaster-Chris Gray and Snowboards-Chris Fidler and Scott Keller.
And there you have it. Now, go get those kids stoked on engineering!

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Empire state of mind


It may be the birthplace of hip hop and the epicenter of Yankees baseball, but on January 14, 2011, the Bronx was home to something even more monumental: the official debut of our giant Pop Fly.

Okay, so maybe that comparison is a wee bit... grandiose. Maybe we won't be making it into Wikipedia under the entry for "The Bronx." But our weekend of events in NYC was a pretty big HUGE deal for us at Design Squad Nation!  

The Madison Square Boys & Girls Club couldn't have been a better place to kick off our giant Pop Fly's coast-to-coast tour. (DC and Cali, you're next!) Judy and Adam led 100 kids in the after school program through the table-top version of Pop Fly, then knocked their kid socks off with THIS maneuver. Is this an NBA halftime show in the making or what?

On the following day, we set up shop in Queens at the New York Hall of Science for Family Day. Twelve hundred kids and parents filled the museum for hands-on activities galore--Pop Fly! Kinetic Sculpture! Paper Table! Launch It! This time, Adam and Judy used the giant Pop Fly to catapult a volleyball into the crowd and this time, like last, the kids went wild!

Our weekend in New York was truly a thrill and we once again felt the magic as kids went bananas for engineering. The famous New York hip hop artist, Jay-Z, was onto something in his song, Empire State of Mind: Now you're in New York / These streets will make you feel brand new / Big lights will inspire you / Let's hear it for New York...

Consider us officially inspired. So thank you, Queens and The Bronx: Home of hip hop, the Yankees, and maybe even a few future engineers, too.

Check out event photos and comment on this blog post on Facebook.

How do engineers make the world a better place? Take a trip to ASCEville to find out.

In ASCE's new online scavenger hunt, kids click around a virtual city to uncover--and discover--20 very cool examples of sustainable civil engineering (like green roofs, rain gardens, and permeable pavement). They'll never look at sidewalks the same way again!

For more ways to engage kids in conversations about civil engineering, check out ASCE's Educators, Parents, and Engineers section.

And for more fun engineering games, don't miss Fidgit and String Thing.

Game on!

Future engineers.


judyandgirl2.pngThumbnail image for Thumbnail image for kickstick.pngWhat do you get when you put 200 teenage girls in a room with 60 female engineers, and add a few of our hands-on engineering challenges?

Future engineers.

This past November, Design Squad Nation partnered with the Society of Women Engineers and Girl Scouts of the USA to host an event in Orlando, Florida called Invent It. Build It. The goal was to give girls an opportunity to learn more about the engineering profession.

Judy Lee gave a rousing keynote speech and challenged the girls to get their engineer on with Pop Fly, Kick Stick, and Electric Gamebox. SWE's professional and collegiate members were on hand to advise when needed and share stories and experiences from their work.

The match-up was a huge success! The girls worked side by side with talented female engineers, asked them questions, and learned about different kinds of engineering jobs. At the end of the day, there were wild cheers for the great project designs created, but the excitement ran deeper than that. The girls' perceptions of engineering actually changed and we saw just how powerful the mentor/mentee relationship can be.

You can cultivate the same experience for your kids and it doesn't have to be at a large-scale event. Reach out to engineering firms, universities, and organizations in your community to find volunteer mentors. Give your kids a chance to become future engineers, too.

See more event photos and comment on this post on Facebook.

Nate Ball talks TED.

We love our host emeritus, Nate, who continues to spread the gospel of engineering to the masses. In his TEDxBrooklyn talk, he likens engineering to beatboxing via the creative process... don't try this at home.