Design Squad is a high-energy reality television show that allows kids to show off their smarts as they design and build working solutions for real-world clients. Focused on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, the topics covered in the episodes are found in nearly every physical science curriculum. Students will engage in hands-on challenges that emphasize teamwork and problem solving. They will also deepen their understanding of the design process, and come to understand engineering as a creative profession centered on designing things that matter and improving people’s lives.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
6. 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
7. 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.
8. Aquatic Robots—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
9. 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.
10. 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.
11. 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.
12. Go-Kart Finale—Part 1—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.
13. Go-Kart Finale—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.
14. 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.
15. Crash-Test Rugby—US Paralympic athlete and wheelchair rugby player Kerri Morgan asks the team to track her every move on the court by building an automated wheelchair that simulates a defensive player on the attack.
16. Water Rescue—Part 1—The DESIGN SQUADs build remote-controlled, aquatic pet rescue vehicles for the New Orleans Fire Department.
17. Water Rescue—Part 2—The DESIGN SQUADs build remote-controlled, aquatic pet rescue vehicles for the New Orleans Fire Department.
18. 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.
19. sNOw Problem?—Part 1—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.
20. 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.
21. Tour de BBQ—The competition heats up when Redbones BBQ Restaurant owner, Rob Gregory, challenges the teams to build a bicycle-powered rotisserie.
22. Escape from Misery Island—Part 1—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.
23. 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.
A Million Thanks
Instructional Video Resources
Use our classroom videos for every curriculum and every grade level.
Lending LibraryAccess our lending library and order form for video titles for all grade levels and subject areas.
Find Us at the Following Events:
Feb. 19-22: ND Counseling Assoc., Bismarck.
Feb. 22: The Stars of PBS at MSUM Planetarium (featuring Daniel Tiger & Sesame Street), 1-5.
Feb. 23-24: STEM workshops, Ft. Yates.
Feb. 26: Public Media Day at the Capitol, Bismarck.
March 3: Lewis & Clark School Reading Night, Fargo.
March 7: “SciGirls” day-long teacher training event, Prairie Public studio, Fargo.
March 20-21: ND Council of Teachers of Mathematics and ND Science Teachers Assoc., Bismarck.
March 25-28: ND Assoc. of Secondary School Principals, Bismarck.
March 26: Family Literacy Event, Rolette, ND.
March 26-28: ND Music Educators Assoc., Bismarck.
March 30: Family Literacy Event, Warwick, ND
March 31: Family Literacy Event, Devils Lake.
April 14: Family Literacy Event, Wahpeton-Breckenridge.
April 20: Family Literacy Event, Tate Topa, ND.
April 20: Family Literacy Event, Osgood, ND.
April 21: Family Literacy Event, Minnewaukan, ND.
April 23: Family Literacy Event, Dakota Prairie, McVille, ND.
April 23-25: NDRA Reading Conference, Minot.
May 29-31: Family Literacy Event at Devils Run, Devils Lake.
JUNE 6: SHARE-A-STORY LITERACY EVENT, Rheault Farm, Fargo.