Design Squad Global Clubs is an outreach initiative in informal education that facilitates cross-cultural exchange through hands-on engineering projects and promotes positive attitudes to engineering.
DSG clubs is an initiative of WGBH Educational Foundation and FHI 360, which aims at promoting design thinking and global competences to children aged 10 to 13. Through fun-packed, high energy, hands-on collective activities in a club, the children explore engineering and inventions for a period of either 6 or 12 weeks. They also have a special opportunity to work alongside a partner club from a different country. They share and discuss their ideas in weekly 60-minute sessions and through virtual forms of exchange with their partner clubs. This includes content such as e-mails, photos and videos of their design ideas and club activities.
The clubs give each other feedback and present their final engineering projects to one another. In the process they learn to think creatively and work in a team, discover the power of invention to make a difference in the world, and deepen their knowledge about communities and life in other countries. By giving children the opportunity to share their ideas and learn with their peers from around the world, DSG clubs empower kids with a global understanding of engineering and help them develop core competencies for the 21st century.
An action research study was done in two rounds of DSG club implementation to provide answers to three overarching research questions:
To what extent does DSG’s model of cross-cultural collaboration build students’ understanding of engineering/invention, motivation to participate in engineering/invention activities, and global competencies?
What are the challenges, infrastructure and support needed to inspire and prepare a cohort of young, globally competent engineers in afterschool programmes, both in the United States and internationally?
Can the proposed model successfully be implemented in the United States and abroad? Can the model effectively help educators and students achieve the desired outcomes?
Action research activities included student pre- and post-surveys, club leader surveys (post-training and post-club), documentation of student work through the partner exchanges, focus groups with students, and weekly club leader surveys with specific questions about the week’s activities. In addition, after completing the programme, the research team conducted post-club interviews with club leaders to better understand their experience of DSG. An executive summary and full report are available upon request.
The Design Squad Global Club has produced a robust collection of free and readily available resources that provide educators and youth leaders with the guidelines for running a club, strategies for collaborating with an international partner, and the tools required to help kids develop design process skills and apply them to an exciting array of engineering challenges.
The following resources are available to club leaders and can be found on PBS Learning Media:
2 Club Guides: Six- and twelve-week programmes that each include a recruitment poster, letter to parents, lists of materials, posters and handouts, and step-by step instructions to prepare ahead and lead each session.
Club Leader Training: A self-paced online training and downloadable offline version for those with limited access to quality Internet streaming. The training includes professional development videos with advice from real club leaders on how to facilitate project-based activities and best practices for working with an international partner.
Matching: WGBH also assists clubs in finding an international partner to work with for the duration of the programme. Clubs sign up on the website and are matched with a partner club from another country running the same programme during the same period.
The Parents and Educators site of the DSG website has additional resources for extended learning:
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