Friday, February 18, 2011

Dance Pad Mania: The Revenge (and Challenge) of the Lightbulbs

Today, February 18th, Faryn and I made a dance pad for the DESIGN SQUAD Challenge. This challenge is one of many that The Hillwood Herald has done as part of the PBS Kids television show. As reporters, we interviewed Judy and Adam at Hillwood, the engineers and starts who lead the show and design all the different challenges. (Click here to read our coverage about the show and Judy and Adam.)

Our dance pad consisted of only a battery and a lightbulb, as some buzzers were missing and the rest were being used. Even though our challenge creation does not sound and look like a lot, it took a while to figure out how exactly we were going to connect the wires with the lightbulb and how we were going to trigger it to work.

As we were trying to figure out how we were going to trigger our devices, I thought back to how Judy and Adam triggered their initial challenge through cardboard. I also recalled how last week, Jake, Erion, and I used duct tape and cardboard. Faryn and I had trouble making a cardboard trigger at first, but we finally got the wire to stop moving out of place. From there, we were able to press the cardboard and trigger the lightbulb, so that it would glow. If you would like to try this challenge yourself, start by reading the directions on the DESIGN SQUAD website. All the needed materials are easily found, either at your home or Radio Shack or your neighborhood hardware store. While a lower-grade student might need help with this project, an upper-grader can do it on his or her own.

Other classmates made Rubber Band Cars, which is also a DESIGN SQUAD challenge from Judy and Adam. (At the end of Judy and Adam's "Apache Skateboard" show, you can watch them build a rubber band car -- it's actually more difficult than it looks!)

DESIGN SQUAD's purpose is to help regular kids make their dreams come true through engineering. On the DESIGN SQUAD Website there are plenty of videos that anyone can watch showing Judy and Adam helping kids and doing challenges together.

The latest DESIGN SQUAD show is a two-part series about Adam and Judy designing clothing in New York. When they spoke to The Hillwood Herald, both explained how this was one of the more stressful challenges. Of course, if you are more into learning all about worm juice and engineering a bike to transport fresh produce in London, watch the previous episode, titled "Garden to Go."

Also, don't missing seeing Judy and Adam at the nearby Lawrence Hall of Science at the University of Berkeley. 

WHAT: Meet Design Squad Nation hosts Judy and Adam, watch sneak peeks of new episodes, and try engineering challenges inspired by the show!
WHEN: Saturday, February 26th  from 11:00 am-4:00 pm 
WHERE: Lawrence Hall of Science 

Judy and Adam will be launching their giant catapult! Watch the stage shows at 11:00 am and 1:00 pm for some super-sized fun! There will also be an Ingenuity in Action exhibit and the Ingenuity Lab, where you can build and test rockets, ping pong ball launchers, bridges, and your own flying things.

You will have to pay to get into the museum, which costs $12 for adults and either $9 or $6 for children. But once inside, all the activities are free. For more information, visit

Here's a video clip that highlights their show:

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