Making treasure from trash with Design Squad Nation


The Trash to Treasure Contest for kids recently wrapped up with a weekend of making for the three teen winners at Continuum’s offices near Boston. This was the same location as a previous video shoot, on Max’s Day of Making. Daniel, MaryAnn, and Lilly all submitted text and image entries of their devices intended to make use of recycled materials that would make an improvement for the lives of others.

The young makers worked with professional engineers Rich Ciccarelli of Continuum and Design Squad Nation co-hosts Judy Lee and Adam Vollmer who both work at IDEO. Over the three day shoot, they brainstormed possible design options and set about building working models of the teens’ design entries. Check out the photos of the video shoot and reveal. Daniel and the MiBike:

Daniel worked with host Adam Vollmer to develop his idea of a weather protected ride. Daniel’s sketch model was made of toothpicks and glue, but was enough to get his idea across. Together, they fabricated the parts and assembled the weather enclosure that will allow him to ride in the rain and other weather.

Lilly and Judy built the Sibling Soaker:

Judy helped Lilly build and improve her design of the Sibling Soaker. Originally, it was made of PVC, and included a target, and the mechanism to break the water balloon loaded above the cooperating sibling. They fine-tuned the design to improve reliability and function to make sure that the sibling was properly doused.

When adults are working with teens, there can be a tendency to do to many things for them, to keep the process going. There was certainly a lot of preparation in developing the project path and working out ideal materials. Rich Ciccarelli consulted on the phone, in the week before the shoot, with each of the teens about their design and how they imagined it working. During the shoot, the youth were involved in many of the decisions, and actively participated in making the parts and assembling the systems. They didn’t do everything themselves, but were guided and had lots of opportunity to add to the design and understand how and why it works. All of the youth left with new skills and deeper knowledge that will inform their future projects.

In preparation for the upcoming season, the Design Squad Nation blog is heating up. The site also has a number of new resources for parents, educators, and kids, where they are encouraged to design and build prototypes of their ideas. The team of Adam and Judy have been traveling the world filming and helping youth build their dreams into reality. It looks like it should be an interesting show.

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Making things is the best way to learn about our world.

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