Students: Faryn and Camryn
This will be our last article, at least for now, on Judy and Adam. This week, you will be announcing and previewing the upcoming show on national TV.
Use the press release below, as well as information from the PBS Kids' DESIGN SQUAD website for writing your story. Remember to include links, photos, and source material. If you have time, make an Animoto video about their visit to Hillwood.
Design Squad Hits the Road with
Design Squad Nation, Premiering January 26,
2011 on PBS KIDS GO!
New Series Addresses the Need for Engineering Education by
Encouraging Kids to Dream it. Build it. Live it.
(Boston, MA, Tuesday, November 16, 2010) – Premiering Wednesday,
January 26, 2011 (check local listings), the producers of the Peabody and Emmy
Award-winning engineering and reality competition series Design Squad take their
show on the road with a new spin-off series for ‘tweens, teens, and family-viewing—
Design Squad Nation. Over 10 episodes, engineer co-hosts Judy Lee and Adam
Vollmer travel across the country and around the world, working side by side with
kids to turn their dreams into reality. Whether it is a red-carpet worthy gown for
Project Runway’s Christian Siriano, or a playground for kids in a rural village high in
Nicaragua’s northern mountains, Design Squad Nation shows that engineering isn’t
about hiding away in some lab; it’s about being active in the world, taking risks,
collaborating with interesting people, and using science, math, and technology to
solve real problems.
Design Squad Nation takes a kid’s passion, combines it with engineering, and shows
how to create an array of engineering feats—a cake that is part delicious, part
electronic, and part mad scientist for the cast party of Young Frankenstein: The
Musical; a pedal-powered bike organ; a human-powered flying machine, and more.
Wish you could help the world conserve water? Have a dream of an
invention that can improve someone’s life? Design Squad Nation shows kids
that if they can dream it, they can build it.
In the series premiere, “Apache Skateboarders,” Judy and Adam team up with
Ronnie—a 17-year-old skateboarder from the White Mountain Apache Reservation in
Whiteriver, Arizona to build a skateboarding street course. Engineered to be modular,
durable, and weather-resistant, the skate park includes a pyramid deck, hubbas
(ledges to grind on), and “The Wave” (an angled grind box). With the help of Design
Squad Nation, Ronnie and his friends create a skate park of their dreams.
“More than a TV show, and more than a website, Design Squad Nation is a growing
community built around the belief that with creative problem-solving and engineering,
any kid can make a difference,” says Executive Producer Marisa Wolsky. “Through a
network of more than 5,000 engineering and education partners around the country,
we are working to make this community bigger and stronger, inspiring a new
generation of engineers to dream big and change the world.”
“Kids will see Design Squad Nation and be absolutely amazed at all of the different
ways that engineering can be a part of their world,” says co-host Adam Vollmer. Adds
co-host Judy Lee, “We hope the show and website will get kids thinking about what
sorts of problems and challenges they would like to solve, and to see engineering as
a way to have fun while innovating for the future.”
Design Squad Nation builds on Design Squad’s mission to increase student’s
knowledge of engineering and to improve the public image of engineering, especially
among girls and minorities. The project is a direct response to the critical societal
need to attract more students to engineering and technology studies and careers.
From Design Squad to Design Squad Nation
A reality competition show that was launched in 2007 by the producers of Zoom and
FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman, Design Squad had the goal of getting viewers excited
about engineering. It worked. After researching the impact of the TV series, website,
and educator’s guide, an independent evaluator found a significant jump in young
people’s learning and a uniformly positive, enthusiastic response from viewers,
educators, and kids. Design Squad aired for three seasons and was hosted by Nate
Shifting away from the reality competition format of Design Squad, the Design Squad
Nation spin-off takes the engineering and building fun of the original series and
brings it directly to kids around the country and the globe. From conception to
finished product, Design Squad Nation combines engineering know-how with kids’
passions to create amazing things that improve people’s lives.
Design Squad Nation Online at pbskidsgo.org/designsquadnation
The Design Squad Nation website is a destination for creative ‘tweens and teens,
promoting the message: You are creative and can solve problems. You can make
things that help people. We want you to join the Design Squad Nation. Let's dream
big. Let's build something together.
On the site, kids can work alongside co-hosts Judy Lee and Adam Vollmer, posting
real-life solutions to real-life problems and responding to challenges from the show
by sketching and building their own prototypes. The Design Squad Nation Blog
features inspiring engineering and DIY content from across the Web. The blog will
engage with the Design Squad Nation community directly by including calls to action,
how-to challenges, aspirational examples of kid-made content on the site, and firstperson
video and messages from Judy and Adam—sharing both the fun and the
failures that are a part of the design process. Already, more than 12,000 kids are
engaged, actively creating and sharing content in our online community. Design
Squad Nation invites the next generation of great thinkers to get involved at
pbskidsgo.org/designsquadnation. Viewers also can follow Design Squad Nation on
Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/DesignSquadNation and on Twitter at
About Co-Hosts Judy Lee and Adam Vollmer
Directing the action of Design Squad Nation are mechanical engineers Judy Lee and
As a child growing up in Cary, North Carolina, Judy loved taking things apart to see
how they work. With the support of her family (her dad is a civil engineer), that love
eventually led to a mechanical engineering degree at North Carolina State University.
After college, Judy harnessed her engineering skills on a wide range of projects—from
designing children’s toys to creating medical devices to providing clean water to
slums in Kenya to testing and destroying products to ensure their safety. Prior to her
work on Design Squad Nation, Judy was profiled on WGBH’s Engineer Your Life and
will appear in an upcoming segment of NOVA’s Secret Life of Scientists and
Engineers Web series. Judy now works at her dream job as a product designer at
IDEO, an international design and innovation firm in Palo Alto, CA. When she’s not onair
brainstorming and building, Judy can be found in San Francisco remodeling her
new home, growing fresh fruits and veggies in her garden, riding a big wheel down
the nation’s windiest street, or playing with her pug, Rosie.
Growing up in Portland, Oregon, Adam wanted to be an astronaut, a LEGO engineer
(before he knew what an engineer was), or…a dinosaur hunter. Thanks to a BS in
mechanical engineering at Stanford and a MS at MIT, Adam has been able to do
most of these things and more. “I played with LEGOs all the way up through grad
school. I worked with NASA during the filming of Design Squad Nation. But I’m still on
the lookout for dinosaurs. I hope to find one soon.” Adam is currently a mechanical
engineer at the international design and innovation firm IDEO in Palo Alto, CA. In
previous jobs, he’s worked in biotech, designed micro electro-mechanical devices,
programmed (and driven) semi-trucks, and built parts for the one of the world’s
biggest physics experiments at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center. Outside of
work, you’re likely to find Adam on his own handmade bicycle, climbing up a
mountain (or skiing down one), or exploring new corners of the world.
Funding for Design Squad Nation
Design Squad Nation is produced by WGBH Boston. Major funding for Design Squad
Nation is provided by the National Science Foundation. Series funding is provided by
the National Aeronautics Space Administration (NASA), Northrop Grumman
Foundation, and The Lemelson Foundation. Additional funding is provided by Noyce
Foundation, United Engineering Foundation (ASCE, ASME, AIChE, IEEE, AIME),
Motorola Foundation, and IEEE.