Target Audience: Latinx and other youth ages 10 to 13-year-olds
Subjects/Skills: Engineering, science, the design process
Nurturing an early interest in STEM, particularly in the middle school grades, when life-long attitudes and STEM identities are formed, can inspire young people to consider careers in engineering and science. However, young people of Latinx origin are disproportionately underrepresented in STEM education, and, as a result, in STEM professions, including engineering. Increasing Latinx engineering participation is a critical need, an issue of equity, and a priority for GBH.
DESIGN SQUAD LATINX introduces educators and kids (ages 10 to 13) to the steps of the engineering design process. This fully Spanish-English bilingual collection of resources, funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, features supports for educators, including a program overview video, a self-paced online training, thematic modules with explainer videos for kids and step-by-step instructions for exploring engineering using the same steps that engineers use to solve real-world problems for clients.
DESIGN SQUAD LATINX follows a four-step engineering design process. First, kids identify a client and their problem—who needs help and what help they need. The clients could be people who the kids might know from their communities and who have problems that are meaningful and engaging to them. Accessing their funds of knowledge, kids brainstorm and design potential solutions to the client’s problem. They pick their favorite idea and use a variety of tools and materials to build a prototype that shows how their idea would work. Then they test their prototype, identify what is and is not working, and redesign it. Finally, kids share information about their client, the problem, and their solution with the group or a larger audience.
DESIGN SQUAD LATINX consists of four different modules, each spanning two or three sessions. The guides for each module include a list of materials, instructions for educators, discussion prompts, handouts, and more. There are many pathways through the material—educators can choose to use some or all the resources. The pathway educators choose might be determined by the amount of time they have available and the level of experience that they and their kids have with engineering design.
Resources are available in the bilingual Design Squad Latinx collection on PBS LearningMedia. A summative evaluation of DESIGN SQUAD LATINX, led by Fluent Research and conducted in both English and Spanish, is underway in California, Massachusetts, Puerto Rico, and Texas. Case studies are also being developed by Dr. Alex Mejia, Associate Professor of Engineering Education, Univ. of Texas San Antonio. Findings will be available in early 2024.
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