Parents, Educators & Engineers

Dream It. Build It. Teach It!

Get kids excited about engineering.

March 2011 Archives

BUILD BIG... and win!

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BuildBig.pngDesign Squad Nation has launched a new contest! It's a great fit for kids in classrooms, clubs, and after school programs.

We're asking kids to think big. Ginormous, actually! Here's the scoop...



Kids should:
  1. Form a team (with a team leader over the age of 18).
  2. Choose any activity from the Design Squad Nation web site. (There are a ton!)
  3. Build a big version of it. (Make it large and in charge!)
  4. Upload a video of the working design to YouTube. (Go viral, baby!)
The winning team will receive a super cool Flip Cam and have its project featured on the DSN web site!

This is the big time, people. Go big or go home! (Not really, that was just for dramatic effect. You'll still be welcome here either way.)

Read more about the contest HERE.

Bienvenidos a Cusmapa

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San José de Cusmapa is a small, rural town in northern Nicaragua. It is surrounded by mountains and trees and is known for its breathtaking views. Cusmapa is home to a vibrant and close-knit community, dedicated to the future of its youth despite its limited resources. The children of Cusmapa are proud of their town, but dream of having a dedicated space in which to play. In DIY Playground, Adam and Judy work with the children of Cusmapa to build the playground of their dreams.

With help from the Fabretto Children's Foundation and volunteers from RoadMonkey Adventure Philanthropy, the entire community pitches in to build Cusmapa a playground, based on the children's own designs.

Can somebody say zip line?



This episode warms the heart, but it's more than just a touching story of community and teamwork. It's a great example of how engineers make a difference in the world, and how what they create can improve our lives.

You can use DIY Playground to teach your kids engineering concepts (like force, energyfriction, gravity, materials, and more).  Pair it with these resources from our Educators Library:

Hands-on activities:
  • Zip Line: Design a way to get a Ping-Pong ball from the top to the bottom of a zip line string. Watch a demo.
  • On Target: Modify a paper cup so it can zip down a line and drop a marble on a target.
  • Get Moving Game: Invent a game that gets everyone up and moving.
Animations:
Video shorts:
Engineer profiles:
Bonus episode:
  • Backyard Thrill Ride: Design Squad teams bring the adrenaline rush of an amusement park ride to a 13-year-old's backyard.

In San José de Cusmapa, dreams really do come true. Encourage your kids to dream it, build it, live it, too.

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Beatriz is a high school student in Emeryville, California with two passions: music and bicycles. Building bicycles, to be exact. (This girl knows her way around a blow torch.)

Beatriz loves to create and wants to build something unique that combines her two passions--sounds like just the challenge for our favorite pair of engineers. In Musical Bike, Judy and Adam help Beatriz design and build a pedal-powered pipe organ.

You can use Musical Bike as a launching point to teach your kids the science and engineering of sound. Watch the episode and read on for more!



Ready to get your hands on a blow torch, too? Before you pull your old Schwinn out of the garage, check out the wealth of educator resources that support Musical Bike.

Hands-on Activities:
Build a Band: Build a four-stringed instrument and use it to play a tune. (45 min.)
Headphone Helper: Add headphones to a Build a Band instrument to make it easier to hear. (45 min.)
Watch a demo of both activities.

Online Game:
String Thing: Manipulate a virtual string's tension, length, and gauge to produce different musical pitches. (Go ahead, unleash your inner Jimi Hendrix!)

Animations:
What Is Sound? (30 sec.)
What Is Pitch?
(30 sec.)
How Do String Length, Tension, and Gauge Affect Pitch? (30 sec.)
How Does Pipe Length Affect Pitch?
(30 sec.)
Pedal-Powered Organ (1m 24s)
Pipe Test (1m 30s)
How Does Welding Work? (30 sec.)

Video Profile:
Submarine Sonar - Lt. Darrin Barber: Electrical engineer Lt. Darrin Barber plumbs the depths of sonar technology in his work on one of the U.S. Navy's newest and most high-tech submarines, the USS Texas. (2 min.)

Bonus Sound Episodes:
Rock On: Design Squad teams create original musical instruments for a rock band.

Bonus Bike Episodes:
Garden-to-Go: Adam and Judy help two kids design and build a pedal-powered mobile garden. 
Tour de BBQ: Design Squad teams compete to build a bicycle-powered rotisserie for a BBQ Restaurant.

Okay, now go get that Schwinn...

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