Icon for: Saranya Sathananthan


WGBH Educational Foundation

Design Squad Global

NSF Awards: 1422236

2018 (see original presentation & discussion)

Grades 6-8

Design Squad Global (DSG) is a web-based, mobile-accessible digital hub and outreach initiative that is creating new opportunities to empower middle school youth to solve real-world problems and understand the impact of engineering in a global context. DSG Clubs connect kids ages 10-13 in out-of-school time programs around the world through fun-packed, high-energy, hands-on activities such as designing and building an emergency shelter or a structure that can withstand an earthquake. Through DSG, kids also get a special opportunity: the chance to work alongside a partner club from another country. Partner clubs share their experiences by exchanging design ideas, photos, and videos. Along the way, they develop their global competency by learning more about each other’s cultures, communities, and lives. A 6 and 12-week Club Guide and supports for educators were developed during two pilot rounds of testing at 14 afterschool programs in the US, Botswana, Swaziland, and South Africa. Researchers found that DSG had a significant, measurable impact on students’ understanding of engineering and how engineering can make a positive difference in the world; their motivation for participating in engineering activities; their interest in people and places around the globe; and their confidence that they can solve problems and create change. DSG is building broader knowledge about how to develop engineering resources and the outreach process needed to work collaboratively across cultures. It is also contributing to a larger body of work about whether and how engaging with global, collaborative engineering problems leads to greater self-efficacy for children with very different backgrounds and opportunities.

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