Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Design Squad Nation’s Build It Big Contest

Do you have a young inventor living in your casa? Does Papi limp around the house from stepping on (not-so-lost) LEGO pieces in the middle of the night? Maybe you have so many lincoln logs scattered around your house that the neighbors think you’ve been hit by termites?

This, then, is the post for you!

Last week, thanks to mi amiga, Ana, from Spanglish Baby, I had the remarkable opportunity to sit in on a webinar hosted by PBS’s Design Squad Nation (DSN). The show’s Executive Producer, Marisa Wolsky, and Senior Outreach Project Director, Susan Buckey, talked about the show, it’s website, and their latest contest for students.

Since I am dedicating this week to the topic of encouraging Latino students in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math, I am excited to share DSN’s new contest with you.

In case you don’t know, Design Squad is a reality show on PBS where kids ages 6 – 19 design ingenious machines in the hopes of winning college scholarships. The kids are given a challenge (thought up by the show’s creators) and some raw materials, which they transform into fabulous, workable solutions.

Design Squad NATION then takes these projects on the road and visits kids around the world to show them how engineering can make their dreams come true. For example, the show’s hosts, Adam and Judy, traveled to San José de Cusmapa, Nicaragua, to work with the children who wanted a place of their own where they could play. With help from the community, the children were able to create and build a new playground based on their own designs. You can read more about the project and watch the episode that features Cusmapa on the DSN blog.

The goal of DSN is to get kids excited about engineering by giving them hands-on opportunities to create and let their imaginations run free. And this summer, students all across the United States have the same opportunity through the Build Big Contest.

To participate, teams of at least two (2) people - one of which must be an adult 18 or older – must do the following:

1) Choose one of the activities on the DSN website to super-size.

2) Design your masterpiece! (Umm..you may want to build a small version first to test it out.)

3) Build it! Easy, no?

4) Record your progress and your creative masterpiece in a short video, then upload it to YouTube.

5) Submit your video to DSN here.

The winners will receive a Flip Cam and have their project featured on the Design Squad Nation website.

Take a look at this short video by DSN’s hosts, Judy Lee and Adam Vollmer:

But wait! It gets better! One of the things I liked most about Design Squad Nation is their inclusive outlook and the way the students participating on the show reflect the diversity of our nation...

In addition, Design Squad Nation has carefully provided most of the activities on their website in both English AND Spanish! So if anyone on your team is not completely fluent in English, download the information for them so that they can better understand. This is especially helpful for Spanish-speaking parents and other relatives who want to show their support, but aren’t sure what exactly you are up to!

This is a great project for teams as large as a school group or as small as a parent and child. So if you are looking for a good project to keep your children busy and learning this summer, give the Build Big contest some serious thought.

¡Ándale, gente! Let’s get our kids excited about engineering and math. Show them how fun it can be to make their ideas a reality.

Con mucho cariño…


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