Parents, Educators & Engineers

DESIGN SQUAD NATION Episode Descriptions

Premiering on PBS in January 2011, DESIGN SQUAD NATION is a 10-part series of TV shows and video blogs that build on the success of the award-winning PBS reality competition series DESIGN SQUAD to get kids excited about engineering. DESIGN SQUAD NATION is high-energy, high-drama reality TV led by Judy and Adam, two professional engineers who work with kids around the world to make their wishes come true through engineering. From creating a park for skaters at the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Arizona to building a playground in a rural village in Nicaragua's northern mountains, the goal of DESIGN SQUAD NATION is to inspire viewers to take on their own hands-on engineering activities.

DESIGN SQUAD NATION Season 1

Episode 101: Apache Skateboarders

On the premiere episode of DESIGN SQUAD NATION, Ronnie—a 17-year-old skateboarder from the White Mountain Apache Reservation in Whiteriver, Arizona—teams up with co-hosts Judy and Adam to build a skateboarding street course. Engineered to be modular, durable, and weather-resistant, this is the skate park of Ronnie's dreams.

Episode 102: It's Alive!!!

Judy and Adam join forces with Jennifer—a young pastry chef from Boston, MA—to create the cake of her dreams for the cast party of "Young Frankenstein: The Musical." With guidance and inspiration from master baker Jorg Amsler of Truly Jorg's Patisserie in Saugus, MA, the team engineers a cake that is part delicious, part electronic, and part mad scientist—wowing the musical's cast and crew.

Episode 103: Garden–to–Go

Judy and Adam travel to London, England to meet Mariam and Bert, two young members of Global Generation—a community organization that grows fruits and vegetables in one of London's largest construction sites. Bringing new meaning to the phrase "eat locally, build globally," Mariam and Bert work with Adam and Judy to design and build a pedal-powered mobile garden that will help them sell their produce to nearby restaurants.

Episode 104: A Cut Above Part 1
Episode 105: A Cut Above Part 2

Judy and Adam travel to New York City, the fashion capital of the United States, to meet up-and-coming designers Eduarda and Juan. Eduarda and Juan's dreams come true when fashion designer Christian Siriano challenges them to showcase their individuality and creativity by drawing upon Judy and Adam's engineering know-how to re-interpret a gown from his collection. Their red carpet-worthy designs are treated to a surprise critique when two editors from Teen Vogue magazine join Christian at a fashion shoot.

Episode 106: Musical Bike

Judy and Adam meet Beatriz in her hometown of Emeryville, California to help her combine her passion for music and bike building. Working at The Crucible—a non-profit educational foundry and metal fabrication shop—they design and build a pedal-powered bike organ for Beatriz to unveil at her high school block party.

Episode 107: DIY Playground

Judy and Adam journey to the northern mountains of Nicaragua to work with the kids of Cusmapa to build the playground of their dreams. With the help of the Fabretto Children's Foundation, a non profit organization that helps local children reach their full potential, the entire community pitches in, working from the ground up to build Cusmapa a playground.

Episode 108: One Giant Leap Part 1
Episode 109: One Giant Leap Part 2

Judy and Adam invite Felipe—an accomplished 15-year-old pilot from Miami, Florida—to compete in the 2010 Red Bull Flugtag competition. Together, they team up with NASA to design and build a human-powered flying machine. With their NASA-inspired glider design, Team One Giant Leap soars off a 30-foot high deck, impressing the judges with distance and style.

Episode 110: Trash to Treasure

For the season finale, DESIGN SQUAD NATION asked kids across the country to recycle, re-use, and re-engineer everyday materials into the next big invention in the 2010 Trash to Treasure contest. Three grand-prize winners visit Boston to work with professional engineers at Continuum, a global innovation and design consultancy, to see their original ideas become real products.

DESIGN SQUAD Episode Descriptions

DESIGN SQUAD Season 3

Episode 301: Moving Target

The Design Squad teams reach new heights by building indestructible, remote-controlled, flying football targets for Nerf toymaker Hasbro. Future football stars judge the designs for the kick-off episode of season three.

Episode 302: Crash-Test Rugby

U.S. Paralympic athlete and wheelchair rugby player Kerri Morgan asks the teams to track her every move on the court by building an automated wheelchair that simulates a defensive player on the attack.

Episode 303: Water Rescue Part 1
Episode 304: Water Rescue Part 2

The Design Squads build remote-controlled, aquatic pet rescue vehicles for the New Orleans Fire Department.

Episode 305: Shooting for the Sun

It comes down to the buzzer when WNBA players Lindsay Whalen and Tamika Raymond challenge the Design Squads to build T-shirt shooters that reach their arena's upper deck. The winning T-shirt shooter is announced live at a Connecticut Sun home game.

Episode 306: sNOw Problem? Part 1
Episode 307: sNOw Problem? Part 2

Come along for the ride as the Design Squads build dry land dog sleds for Jamaican Dog Sled team members Damion Robb and Newton Marshall.

Episode 308: Tour de BBQ

The competition heats up when Redbones BBQ Restaurant owner, Rob Gregory, challenges the teams to build a bicycle-powered rotisserie.

Episode 309: Escape from Misery Island Part 1
Episode 310: Escape from Misery Island Part 2

In the final showdown, the teams test their sea legs by building sailboats to race across the open ocean. The captain of the winning team is awarded a $10,000 college scholarship from the Intel Foundation.


DESIGN SQUAD Season 2

Episode 201: Cardboard Furniture

Sit back and relax as the Design Squad teams create innovative, yet practical cardboard furniture for the home goods superstore IKEA. Furniture shoppers take a seat in the judges' chair to decide the season premiere's winning team.

D-Squad Pro File: 25-year-old Jennifer Chua is a packaging engineer who works at Method, a company in San Francisco that specializes in nontoxic, biodegradable products. Jennifer makes high-quality products that are both good-looking and good for the environment. (Can also be seen at pbs.org/designsquad.)

Watch the Pro File: Package Design

Episode 202: PVC Kayak

Jump on board as King Island Alaskan native Sean Gallagher challenges the Design Squad teams to build ten-foot kayaks using traditional design but with non-traditional materials.

D-Squad Pro File: Mechanical and design engineer Connie Yang is as extreme as the high-tech tents she designs for NEMO Equipment.

Watch the Pro File: High Tech Tents

Episode 203: Green Machines

The teams go green as they work with the Food Project, an organization that creates social change through sustainable agriculture. Two young Food Project volunteers challenge the teams to design a compost lifter for their urban farm.

D-Squad Pro File: Industrial engineer Erin Gately creates new environmentally friendly products for Hewlett-Packard by ensuring that HP's computer products are made with fewer non-recyclable materials.

Watch the Pro File: Eco Electronics

Episode 204: Gravity Bikes

Watch the Design Squad teams in a head-to-head competition as they build high-speed, gravity bikes for Gravity Sports International champion Tom Whalen.

D-Squad Pro File: Gael Force Team 126 from Clinton, Massachusetts, is one of more than 1,300 teams that compete each year at the annual FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics competition. Teams had just six weeks to design, build, and test a robot that raced around a track to move a 40-inch inflatable ball.

Watch the Pro File: FIRST Robotics

Episode 205: Water Dancing

Dancer and performance artist Lisa Bufano, a bilateral leg and finger amputee, challenges the teams to build specialized prostheses for an underwater performance.

D-Squad Pro File: Greg Jones applies his mechanical engineering skills in a broad range of artistic endeavors including "La Contessa," a replica of a 40-foot Spanish galleon built over a school bus.

Watch the Pro File: Mecha-Sculpture

Episode 206: Backyard Thrill Ride

The teams bring the adrenaline rush of an amusement park ride to the backyard of 13-year-old Andreas Hoffman.

D-Squad Pro File: What is more fun then riding a roller coaster? Ask mechanical engineer Chris Gray and he'd say building one! At Greater Coaster International, Chris applies his creActivity and engineering know-how to build exhilarating (and safe!) roller coasters.

Watch the Pro File: Roller Coasters

Episode 207: Big Bugs

Design Squad gets back to nature as the teams sculpt large-scale insects from found forest materials. The winning arthropod will be on display at the New England Wild Flower Society's Big Bugs exhibit.

D-Squad Pro File: Matt Sisul and William Cao are 20-something structural engineers who volunteer for Engineers without Borders to promote urban development in Africa and South America.

Watch the Pro File: Build Without Borders

Episode 208: Aquatic Robotics

Super Duck Excursions, the Boston-based terra-amphibious touring company, challenges the teams to create underwater radio-controlled robots to spice up their narrated tours.

D-Squad Pro File: Anthony Westphal, a mechatronic engineer at the Marine Systems Engineering Laboratory at Northeastern University, combines both mechanical and electrical engineering while working on robots that mimic biological animals, including a lamprey swimming robot.

Watch the Pro File: Swimming Robot

Episode 209: Band Cam

There's nothing like the World Music rhythms of Zili Misik to send the Design Squad teams into an artistic groove. The eight-member all-female band challenges the teams to create remote-controlled aerial camera systems to cover their live performance.

D-Squad Pro File: Mark Caylao, Head Engineer for Airship Management Services in North Carolina, maintains and operates some of the world's largest blimps for everyone from presidential candidates to the military.

Watch the Pro File: Blimps

Episode 210: No Crying in Baseball

The teams must hit a home run for Del "The Dogman" Christman—local celebrity and hot dog vendor for the Lowell Spinners (a Class A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox)—who is in need of an onion dispenser to dress up his dogs.

D-Squad Pro File: 25-year-olds Curtis Cruz and Becky O'Hara, engineers for Rawlings Sporting Goods, have a dream job that combines their passion for baseball with their love of math and science.

Watch the Pro File: Baseball Bats

Episode 211: Hockey Net Target

They shoot, they score! Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Lashoff challenges the teams to build remote-controlled hockey net targets.

D-Squad Pro File: Leila Hasan combines creActivity with technology as the lead engineer for the GigaPan, a robotic device that takes high-resolution panoramic imagery for consumer use.

Watch the Pro File: GigaPan Camera

Episode 213: Off-Road Go-Karts Part 2

In this two-part season finale, the teams revamp go-karts in a high-speed off-road race. The fastest go-kart will be featured in MAKE Magazine, and the contestant who ends up with the most total points wins… a college scholarship provided by the Intel Foundation.

D-Squad Pro File: Arie and Griffen Ouimet, twin teenaged brothers, race go-karts at the SSC East racetrack in Braintree, Massachusetts. Arie prefers to be behind the wheel, while Griffen puts his engineering skills to work in the pits. The brothers are mentored by Dave Davidson, a mechanical engineer who developed the Freedom Wheel, a go-kart steering wheel that works without foot controls.

Watch the Pro File: Go-Karts


DESIGN SQUAD Season 1

Episode 101: The Need for Speed

A professional racecar builder challenges the DS teams to convert kiddie toys—a red wagon and tricycle—into motorized dragsters. Fasten your seatbelts for Design Squad's racy debut!

D-Squad Pro File: Former oil engineer, Pete Bethune, goes green by designing the world's first high-speed powerboat—fueled entirely by biodiesel. Listen in as Pete lays out his plan to circumnavigate the globe in his clean, green machine—EarthRace.

Watch the Pro File: Biodiesel Powerboat

Episode 102: Rock On

The teams compete to create original musical instruments—one stringed and one percussive—for Off White Noise, a local band. The instruments are put to the test when Off White Noise rocks out at the Middle East nightclub.

D-Squad Pro File: Hasbro toy engineer Amanda Bligh demonstrates how work can be play when you spend your day designing products like Nerf Hoops and Nerf Blaster.

Watch the Pro File: Nerf Toys

Episode 103: Skunk'd

When a guy named Skunk comes looking for a bike bizarre enough to impress the members of SCUL (Subversive Choppers Urban Legion), well, you give him what he wants. The rubber really hits the road when DS parades their newly created choppers (bikes) on a SCUL mission.

Episode 104: DS Unplugged

The teams take a crash course in pre-industrial building techniques, as they compete to build 20-foot bridges—without the aid of power tools, forklifts, or...flushable toilets. It's a show for the (Middle) Ages!

D-Squad Pro File: Jennifer Nakayama of SeaWorld puts to use her skills as an environmental and civil engineer to create a cool new habitat for warm weather Humboldt penguins.

Watch the Pro File: Penguin Habitat

Episode 105: Got Game

Challenged to come up with a way to cover all the angles of a basketball game via remote-controlled cameras, the teams dive into action and compete to prove who's got (the whole) game!

D-Squad Pro File: Coming up with ways to map underwater terrain takes some deep thinking. Oceanographic engineer Amy Kukulya dives right into the challenge by designing torpedo-shaped robots that chart the contours of the ocean's floor.

Watch the Pro File: Underwater Robot

Episode 106: A Collective Collaboration

The teams set their sights on designing the most durable, portable and low cost peanut butter making machines for a women's collective in Haiti. Powered by human hands and inspiring to the human heart, DS shows that engineering really can change lives.

D-Squad Pro File: A mother of three, Debbie Theobald knows all about coming to the rescue. Watch how Debbie and a team of engineers bring to life BEAR, a robot designed to remove people from dangerous settings and situations.

Watch the Pro File: Rescue Robot

D-Squad Pro File: Employing the same skills he uses in his work at NASA, Evan Thomas, a volunteer working with Engineers Without Borders, designs water recovery and purification systems for use in the arid country of Rwanda.

Watch the Pro File: NASA Toilet

Episode 107: Just for Kicks

The challenge: design a REVOLUTIONary device that automatically feeds a stream of balls to Michael Parkhurst, a professional soccer player with the New England Revolution. Here's one Design Squad's episode that's sure to be a ball.

D-Squad Pro File: Burton snowboard gurus, Scott Keller and Chris Fidler, fill us in on how they design bindings that really click and boards that excel on any snowy terrain. It's a process of ups and down, leaps and landings as the Burton boys carve up the slopes.

Watch the Pro File: Snowboards

Episode 108: Functional Fashion

It's a marriage of high tech and haute couture (well, sort of!) as the teams compete to see who can design the best dual-purpose clothing. Join DS on the runway as the garments/gadgets make their fashion debut.

D-Squad Pro File: Medical science meets tissue engineering as Dr. Howard Pryor develops an implantable device designed to help people suffering from liver disease.

Watch the Pro File: Artificial Liver

Episode 109: Batter Up

How to make a perfect pancake? The DS teams seek the right ingredients for a machine that will cook, flip, and serve up delicious flapjacks at the flick of a switch. The winning machine is put to the (taste) test at a busy diner.

D-Squad Pro File: Talk about a sweet gig: Working with the innovative ice cream recipes of Ben & Jerry's food scientists, mechanical engineer Pete Gosselin creates specialized machinery to produce the perfect balance of Chunky and Monkey.

Watch the Pro File: Ice Cream

Episode 110: Pumped

An 11-foot tall water slide will be a cool addition to the community pool...once there's a pump to deliver the water. See which invention makes the biggest splash with YMCA campers.

D-Squad Pro File: Mechanical engineer Sarah Grenier fulfills her need for speed by transforming her beat up VW into a sleek, slick racecar...and races it herself.

Watch the Pro File: Racecar

Episode 111: Blowin' in the Wind

The teams tap into their inner artists as they compete to design and build wind-powered kinetic art from recycled materials. The winning sculpture is put on display at the DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park in Lincoln, Massachusetts.

Episode 112: Bodies Electric

DESIGN SQUAD-ers take a shine to hip-hop artist Wyatt Jackson when they try to create a sound and light show triggered by Jackson's moves and grooves. In a live performance, it's DS night at the Strand Theatre!

D-Squad Pro File: Electrical engineer Lt. Darrin Barber plumes the depths of sonar technology in his work on the U.S. Navy's newest—and most high-tech—submarine, the USS Texas.

Watch the Pro File: Submarine Sonar

Episode 113: Winner Takes All

The season concludes when Continuum (a design consulting firm) asks the DS teams to develop and test a "summer sled" for retail giant L.L. Bean. It's a bumpy, downhill slide to the finish line!

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