TV Review: 'Design Squad Nation'

Filed under: TV


Rated ON for Ages 6 and Up

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this smart, thought-provoking series -- which is a spin-off of Design Squad -- is a great way to introduce kids to the practical applications of science and engineering. With kid-inspired projects ranging from a bike-powered musical instrument to a skateboarding street course, the show's diverse content demonstrates how engineering relates to a variety of interests. There's plenty to learn from the show's experts, who explain their designs in a kid-friendly way and incorporate scientific terms and definitions in their dialogue.

The good stuff

Educational value: The series exposes viewers to the usefulness of engineering. The hosts take care to explain in detail all of their actions, and animated sketches make it easy for kids to understand how simple machines work. Unfamiliar words like "solenoid" and "bellows" are shown on the screen with their definitions.

Messages: Common themes include teamwork, determination, and creative problem solving. The show encourages viewers to think outside the box, identifying problems they'd like to see solved or inventions they think would help people.

Role models: The show's diverse cast includes both boys and girls -– as well as male and female hosts -– which sends positive messages about equal opportunity in traditionally male careers like engineering. Adam and Judy are receptive to the teens' suggestions and encourage them to get hands-on with the projects. The teens are curious about how things work, excited about seeing their visions become a reality, and open to a new respect for the usefulness of engineering because of it.

What to watch out for

Violence & scariness: Not an issue.

Sexy stuff: Not an issue.

Language: Not an issue.

Consumerism: Kids are encouraged to visit the show's website to submit photos or sketches of their own inventions.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking: Not an issue.

What's the Story?

In "Design Sqad Nation," engineers Adam Vollmer and Judy Lee travel the globe to help kids make their design dreams a reality. Whether it's creating a mobile garden for teens to sell homegrown produce to restaurants or building a human-powered flying machine, there's no task too challenging for this enthusiastic pair of hosts. Each episode follows the design and building process and culminates in a public unveiling of the finished product.

Is It Any Good?

If only every TV series offered the content that's packed into this well-rounded show, which is a spin-off of "Design Squad." From the obvious benefits of exposing kids to useful applications of science to strong messages about creative thinking, teamwork, and problem solving, there's no end to the positive takeaways available here. The show also reflects the shift in the traditionally white male-dominated field of engineering by casting male and female hosts and incorporating a racially diverse pool of boys and girls.

That's not to say the show is all about learning. There's plenty of fun to be had watching how this team brings kids' creations to life, and it's sure to spark some interesting conversations with your kids about their own inventive ideas. Add a little quality family time and some group ingenuity to the mix, and those same ideas could become fun projects for the whole family.

Reviewed by Emily Ashby


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Get more information for parents on media and technology by checking out Common Sense Media.

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