Design Squad Begins New Season

“Can we watch this some more? I bet I can make an instrument like that,” my ten-year old enthuses. Super young engineers have “Peep and the Big Wide World,” and now, older engineers have “Design Squad,” thanks to producer Marisa Wolsky and her team. Produced by WGBH , Design Squad is a PBS reality television show where teens between the ages 15 and 19 design whimsical machines in order to win a college scholarship.Although the show highlights teenage kids, it appeals to younger children, also, making the viewing an entertaining and educational family event. “Can I see just one more episode?” asked Hudson, an eight-year-old KIDS FIRST! juror. “I love this show!” He set up his laptop and watched one episode after another in the series online. This is not unusual according to Wolsky. Statistics show that ¼ of their audience watches online.How is this series different from a million other reality shows out there? Well, for one thing, there are no product placement. Parents don’t have to worry about subliminal commercial advertising when their child is watching this show. Also, the kids are competing for an opportunity to go on in life, using their natural smarts and the information they learned on this show.The students on the teams put in a lot of effort to yield great results. Once filming began in the first season, Wolsky found that it was inspiring to see the cast of eight evolve over the season with growth both socially and academically. The winner of Design Squad receives a $10,000 college scholarship provided by the Intel Foundation.Design Squad cast members work together to brainstorm ideas for the season 2 premiere episode challenge where they design cardboard furniture for an Ikea showroom.One of the biggest hurdles Wolsky and her team had to overcome was creating two-day challenges that had a satisfactory result. Season one taught them about time constraints, which included shopping time and finding challenges that appropriately fit the time frame. They made some slight changes so the teens in season two can focus more on the engineering and creativity. Season two is off to a terrific start with episodes ranging from building furniture with cardboard to building a safe roller coaster in the backyard.Season Two premiers April 2008. Check Design Squad for more details.

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