Guest Post: Kids Tackle Environmental Issues with Engineering

By Nicki Sirianni from Design Squad Global

Inventing Green gets kids to think about how to solve environmental problems with engineering as well as how to create new inventions using a sustainability mindset Inventing Green gets kids to think about how to solve environmental problems with engineering as well as how to create new inventions using a sustainability mindset For years, Design Squad Global, a PBS KIDS show and website, has created activities, videos and clubs that aim to get kids excited about engineering. In Design Squad Global (DSG) after-school clubs, kids ages 10-13 work on real-world engineering and invention projects, like building an emergency shelter or a way to air drop supplies. Through DSG, kids 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.

Now, Design Squad Global is tackling a new content area: inventing for a sustainable future. DSG wants to get kids thinking about how engineering can make an impact on environmental sustainability. The new club guide called “Inventing Green” gets kids to think about how to solve environmental problems with engineering as well as how to create new inventions using a sustainability mindset. Kids are lead through a series of activities that build their skills and knowledge in engineering, global competency, communication and environmental sustainability.

At the end of the 12-week DSG club kids get to create their own original inventions that tackle a need in their community. Kids have identified community needs ranging from social issues, like bullying, to environmental problems, like recycling. Once common problem kids identify around the globe is water. Kids identify problems related to water such as access to clean water, flooding, or pollution in our waterways. Although the problem area might be similar, the inventions and engineering solutions the clubs generate are often very different. Here are some examples of original inventions to address water issues from some DSG clubs from around the world!

Students in Vietnam wanted to find a way to make homes more water resistant and able to remain unharmed during heavy floodingStudents in Vietnam wanted to find a way to make homes more water resistant and able to remain unharmed during heavy flooding 3 Creation Academy from Vietnam

A major concern for kid engineers in this club is flooding. Many homes are damaged when heavy flooding occurs. The kids wanted to find a way to make homes more water resistant and able to remain unharmed during heavy flooding. In order to address this need, the kids created a flood model of an entire village for testing. They then designed, built and tested model homes that had design features that allowed the homes to float! During flooding, these homes will gently rise over the water and float without sustaining any harm. For added protection of the homes, these kid engineers also invented a flood alarm system. Their invention has a water level indicator that triggers an alarm for residents when water levels become too high. This way families can be alerted and prepare in time for flooding!

Canary Wharf College from the United Kingdom

Students from the UK designed and built a full-scale boat made entirely from recycled materials, and they use it to sail the Thames to fish for plastic garbage to help keep the river cleanStudents from the UK designed and built a full-scale boat made entirely from recycled materials, and they use it to sail the Thames to fish for plastic garbage to help keep the river clean This DSG club identified plastic pollution in the Thames River as a big issue for their community and for bodies of water all over the world. Already active in helping to pick up trash in the river, these students wanted to do more, so they built a boat made from recycled plastic. First, the kids made prototypes of boats made out of plastic they found in the trash. Then the club designed and built a full-scale boat made entirely from recycled materials! They use the boat to sail the Thames to fish for plastic garbage to help keep the river clean!

Singapore Science Center from Singapore

Singapore students developed three different inventions that tackle the problems of accessing clean water, difficulty getting sustainably-sourced water into homes and difficulty making homes resistant to floodingSingapore students developed three different inventions that tackle the problems of accessing clean water, difficulty getting sustainably-sourced water into homes and difficulty making homes resistant to flooding Kid Engineers in this club noted several water-issues in their community: trouble accessing clean water, difficulty getting sustainably-sourced water into homes and difficulty making homes resistant to flooding. The students tackled these issues with three different inventions that can be used separately or together! Kid engineers created a prototype of a water purification system to provide the community clean drinking water. Kid engineers also devised a way to bring sustainably collected rainwater from a collection tank into a home. And lastly, these kids also created a model for a floating home that could sustain heavy flooding!

When kids in DSG clubs share their projects with one another, they learn that all communities in every part of the world have their own environmental issues that need to be addressed. We hope to teach kids that they have the power and the ability to make a difference in their community.         

For more activities, videos and information on Design Squad Global, visit: www.pbskids.org/designsquad

 

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