Too often, science and engineering learning in school takes a back seat to math and reading. The National Science Teachers Association’s (NSTA) own elementary school science position statement suggests that “Out-of-school settings can provide additional learning experiences for students within the context of their daily lives.” Design Squad Maker helps facilitate this extended learning opportunity.
Design Squad Maker consists of museum and community maker space workshops, a free app for kids, and take-home materials to engage kids ages 8 to 11 and their parents in identifying problems and finding solutions that are relevant and meaningful to them. Families work at their own pace to build prototypes, while maker space educators provide support and encouragement during a workshop. The app guides kids through the steps of the design process and can be used to document their projects at the maker space and at home. By drawing on community spaces and home settings, Design Squad Maker aims to increase opportunities and reduce barriers for families to engage in engineering design projects.
A study measuring the impact of the Design Squad Maker Toolkit (facilitated workshops, a kid-facing app, and family take-home materials) showed positive outcomes on kids, their parents, and maker space educators. Key findings include:
- Sustained engagement across settings (maker space, digital, and home) as children and parents continued or started new engineering design projects and planned to return for similar workshops.
- Increased familiarity with the engineering design process among parents and children.
- Increased motivation among parents to support their child’s engagement with the engineering design process and increased interest among children previously unfamiliar with it.