Parents, Educators & Engineers

Dream It. Build It. Teach It!

Get kids excited about engineering.

February 2011 Archives

The House of DSN

user-pic
Take note fashionistas: Design Squad Nation has gone haute couture. The House of Chanel may have some competition.

In the two-part episode A Cut Above, Judy and Adam get chic in the fashion capital of the world: New York City. They meet up with Eduarda and Juan, two up-and-coming designers whose dreams are about to come true.

Fashion designer and Project Runway winner Christian Siriano challenges Juan and Eduarda to showcase their individuality and creativity by reinterpreting a gown from his 2010 collection. Adam and Judy use their engineering know-how to add a little extra somethin' somethin' to Eduarda and Juan's dress designs, and the stakes gets serious when Teen Vogue gets involved.

Watch Part 1 and Part 2 of A Cut Above and read on to find out how you can use it to teach your kids about engineering.





Holy runway drama! Bottom line? Mixing fashion and engineering is like mixing stripes and florals--totally daring but absolutely fabulous (when well-executed, that is). Here's how to use A Cut Above to add an exciting twist to concepts of engineering:

1. Focus on electricity.

Adam helps Juan bring new meaning to bling with their LED-lit dress. Pair the episode with:
  • Hands-on Activity: Dance Pad Mania - Build a dance pad that sounds buzzers and flashes lights. (45 min.)
  • Profile: Computer scientist and Dot Diva: Anamary Leal develops 3-D fashion design software that allows the user to envision what a finished piece will look like.
2. Focus on structures and materials.
Judy and Eduarda use a folding technique to give more structure to their dress's fabric. Pair the episode with:
  • Hands-on Activity: Paper Table - Build a table out of newspaper that can hold a heavy weight. (45 min.) Watch a demo. (1 min.)
  • Video Profile: High-Tech Tents-Connie Yang - Mechanical and design engineer Connie Yang uses unusual materials in her high-tech tent designs for NEMO Equipment. (1 min.)
  • Bonus Episode: Functional Fashion - Design Squad teams compete to design the best dual-purpose clothing. (28 min.)

As Project Runway's Tim Gunn would say: Make it work! Show your kids how to be fashion-forward with engineering.

Read Teen Vogue's Q&As with Eduarda and Juan, check out their behind-the-scenes photos, and comment on this post on Facebook.
Q: What's mobile, green, and engineered in the UK?
A: The Design Squad Nation episode, Garden-to-Go!

In Garden-to-Go, we see how engineers work to help the environment. Adam and Judy help Mariam and Bert, two young members of London-based Global Generation, design and build a pedal-powered mobile garden. It is the ultimate example of sustainable design.



The garden's fruit and "veg," as the Brits say, are grown on the rooftop of a construction site in skips (the British can make even dumpsters sound fancy). The produce is fertilized by food waste and...worm tea. Fancy a spot?

The "hoop cart" delivery system is made from recycled building materials and is entirely human-powered--by a bicycle-built-for-two! As Bert and Mariam deliver super fresh veg to local restaurants, they can also collect food waste to bring back to the skip gardens. This food waste fuels the wormery which fertilizes the garden which...voila... grows more veg. What a glorious example of environmental efficiency! 

Showing Garden-to-Go to your kids is a wonderful way to illustrate how engineers can make a difference. You can pair it with any of these educator resources for a rich, multimedia experience:

  • Show other ways in which engineers work to help the environment with video profiles:
Eco-Electronics - Erin Gately (2 min.)
Build without Borders - Matt Sisul and William Cao (2 min.)
Package Design - Jennifer Chua (2 min.)
Biodiesel Powerboat - Peter Bethune (2 min.)
  • Challenge kids to do a hands-on activity that helps the environment:
Harmless Holder - Invent an animal-friendly holder for six cans. (45 min.) Watch a demo.
Paper Table - Build a sturdy table out of newspaper. (45 min.) Watch a demo.
Feel the Heat
- Build a solar hot water heater. (90-120 min.)

With so many options, it's a veritable buffet for educators. If it were me, I'd try them all... just hold the worm tea, please.

Comment on this post on Facebook.

How do you make a cake the Design Squad Nation way? Mix together sugar, flour, and eggs, then add circuits, motors, and a scary monster to taste.

In the episode, It's Alive, Adam and Judy work with master pastry chef Jorg Amsler to help Jennifer, a young pastry chef, create the cake of her dreams for the cast party of Young Frankenstein: The Musical. It's part delicious, part electric, and part mad scientist.

Cue scary monster!



Show your kids the full episode and they may never look at cake the same way again. A delicious way to mark a special occasion? You bet. An amazing feat of engineering? That's a yes.... at least in this case!

Making the edible Young Frankenstein "come alive" was no easy task. A lot of ingredients went into the mix. A couple of key ones? Circuits and motors. You can use this episode and other resources from our Educators Library to teach your kids all about them. Here's how.

  • Challenge kids to try the hands-on activity, Kick Stick, in which they build a hand-held, motorized device that sends a Ping-Pong ball across the floor. Watch a demo.
  • Make a career connection with the engineer profile, Ice Cream-Pete Gosselin. Pete's a mechanical engineer for Ben and Jerry's. He creates specialized machinery that ensures the perfect balance of Chunky and Monkey. (In other words, he makes my life very, very happy.)
From cake to ice cream, It's Alive may just be the ultimate way to give your kids a taste of engineering.

Comment on this post on Facebook.