| For Immediate Release: |
November 17, 2006
CONTACT: Donald Lehr
The Nolan/Lehr Group
(212) 967-8200 / email@example.com
Design Squad Educational Outreach To IntroduceYoung Students To Engineering
Design Squad, a new, live-action reality TV series that begins airing on PBS stations next nationwide next February during Engineers Week 2007, aims to introduce nine- to 13-year-olds and their families to the engineering design process. It’s an ambitious goal, but one that received a solid boost last week when more than 100 leaders from dozens of Engineers Week partner organizations met at the National Academy of Engineering in Washington, D.C. to launch the program’s educational outreach with a “Design Squad” Training Summit.
The day-long summit launches a broad effort to begin training hundreds more engineers and educators across the country who will introduce middle school students to engineering. These trained volunteers will lead hands-on engineering challenges inspired by Design Squad in classrooms, after-school programs and public events held throughout 2007.
Among those spearheading the training session was Thea Sahr, manager of special initiatives at WGBH Boston, the public television station that created and produced the program. A preview screening gave participants a glimpse of Design Squad’s unique format. In each episode, two teams of high school students use their problem-solving skills to design, construct, and test an intriguing, fully operational and, typically, off-beat engineering project. In the first challenge, teams battle it out to see who can make the fastest motorized dragster from children’s toys such as wagons and tricycles. Sahr explained how hands-on activities such as a rubberband-powered model car work in conjunction with each episode to spark kids’ imaginations and make them feel comfortable with the notion of engineering and technology.
Major funding for Design Squad is provided by the National Science Foundation and the Intel Foundation. Cathleen Barton, US Education Manager for Intel Corporation, told participants, “Engineers Week helps us focus on engineering and its critical role in maintaining U.S. competitiveness. Now, it is bringing that focus to children and their families in partnership with WGBH and Design Squad. Today, a hundred people representing engineering and education organizations from across the country came together for training before the television show has even premiered, highlighting the need and excitement for this new television program and related outreach. Intel is very pleased to be a major partner and sponsor, along with the NSF and other supporters, of Engineers Week and Design Squad which will excite kids about the possibilities of engineering, of changing lives and improving the world.”
Among the materials attendees are taking back to local Design Squad teams – who will work in classrooms, libraries, science centers, and any other place the average “tween” might be found – are a PowerPoint overview, a four-minute compilation DVD from the show, and an Event Guide filled with five hands-on activities that demonstrate the broad scope of the program’s appeal. One asks children to build a mobile sculpture that must be at least six inches tall and sturdy enough to stand in the wind, yet light enough to be moved by it. In another, entitled “Pop Fly,” children invent a foot-powered Ping-Pong ball launching-machine made of paint stirrers, a wooden spool and tape. Design Squad’s Web site resources will include streaming clips from the show, downloadable video profiles of real engineers, and on-line versions of the Event and Educators guides.
Organizers acknowledge that coordinating a nationwide broadcast with tandem local activities and outreach is an ambitious effort, but well worth it. According to Engineers Week Foundation executive director Leslie Collins, “the Foundation recently conducted research to determine career and education interests among ‘tweens.’ While middle school students have not necessarily decided on future jobs, they are turning off to certain careers. This presents a unique opportunity for Engineers Week volunteers to intervene and Design Squad gives us the right tools.”
Visit the Design Squad web site at http://pbskidsgo.org/designsquad to see a clip from the show, meet the cast and hosts, and learn more about the outreach.
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Major funding for Design Squad is provided by the National Science Foundation and the Intel Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Tyco Electronics, the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying, The Harold and Esther Edgerton Family Foundation, Noyce Foundation, Intel Corporation, American Society of Civil Engineers, and the IEEE.
Engineers Week, February 18-24, 2007, is a formal coalition of more than 75 engineering, professional, and technical societies and more than 50 corporations and government agencies. Founded in 1951 by the National Society of Professional Engineers, the program is dedicated to ensuring a diverse and well-educated future engineering workforce by increasing understanding of and interest in engineering and technology careers among young students and by promoting pre-college literacy in math and science. Among the oldest of America’s professional outreach efforts, EWeek also raises public understanding and appreciation of engineers’ contributions to society. Engineers Week 2007 co-chairs are Tyco Electronics and the Society of Manufacturing Engineers (SME).