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Design Squad Maker

Design Squad Maker

Target Audience: Families and their children, aged 8–11
Subject/Skills: Engineering design, science, the design process

DESIGN SQUAD MAKER is an engineering design program created by teams from GBH and the New York Hall of Science and funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation. DESIGN SQUAD MAKER engages kids in engineering design activities across different settings and over time. Together, children ages 8-11 and their caregivers come up with problems that they want to solve, brainstorm solutions, build prototypes, and test them to see how they work—engaging in the same steps that engineers use to solve real-world problems. DESIGN SQUAD MAKER was rigorously researched and created using a highly iterative development process to ensure the resources meet the needs of makerspaces, museums and families.

The DESIGN SQUAD MAKER Toolkit is a suite of free resources designed for children, caregivers, and makerspaces. The Toolkit includes:

  • Workshops: Workshops are a central component of DESIGN SQUAD MAKER. During each 90-minute workshop, facilitators introduce the design process to children ages 8-11 and their families. Facilitators can choose one of the four themed design challenges, or they can create their own custom challenge using the template provided.
  • DESIGN SQUAD MAKER App: During the workshop, families are introduced to the app which guides children through the steps of the design process. The app helps children identify the problems that matter to them, develop engineering solutions and document the process using the app’s notebook feature. At the end of the workshop, families are encouraged to use the app at home to finish their design project, start a new one, or do a quick activity!
  • Take-Home Materials: Families leave the workshop with handouts that enable them to continue designing at home. A tips sheet provides information about the benefits of engineering design, ways to support children when they get frustrated, and suggestions for involving the whole family. An activity booklet helps families find the space, materials and time they need to keep making at home.

The DESIGN SQUAD MAKER Toolkit is available on PBS LearningMedia. The Design Squad Maker app can be downloaded for free from the Apple App and Google Play stores.


A 2022 summative evaluation conducted by Concord Evaluation Group found that the Toolkit was effective in familiarizing parents with the design process and helping them feel more confident supporting their children with engineering design projects. These effects were especially found among parents with less than a college degree. The Toolkit also helped kids become more familiar with the design process and increased their interest.

Contact Us: education@wgbh.org.