Students at Berlin Middle School participated in a six-week Design Squad Global (DSG) club, sponsored by PBS and WMHT (the local PBS affiliate). They explored engineering through fun, high energy, hands-on challenges. One challenge asked students to design and build an emergency shelter or a structure that could withstand an earthquake.
“I thought it was really fun because it was hands on and we got to make machines. I love to build things,” said Jesse Cameron, a seventh grade student at Berlin Middle School.
“The problem-solving skills acquired during the after school activities not only allow students to gain confidence in their abilities, but students broaden their understanding of basic engineering concepts and apply them to solve a problem,” said Dawn Wetmore, Technology Education teacher and advisor of the engineering design club, Berlin InvenTeam.
Through DSG, students received a special opportunity to work alongside a partner club from another country. BMS students collaborated with Children of the Nations School in Lilongwe, Malawi, Africa. The students studied and shared information they learned about Malawi, and sent pictures and videos of their engineering activities. Partner clubs also shared their experiences by exchanging design ideas, photos and videos.
For six weeks, students at both schools collaborated as they worked on different engineering and problem-solving activities. Along the way, the students cultivated their global competency by learning more about each others’ cultures, communities and lives.
“We learned fun ways to create stuff and work together,” said seventh grader Austin Meyette about his experience working with students in Malawi. “I realized how lucky we were to have many things and people to help us learn.”
With the support of Ms. Oligny, Mr. Scannell, Ms. Vanderhoef, and Ms. Wetmore, students applied the engineering design process to a variety of design problems, communicated results and celebrated successes. They also developed an understanding of how different their lives are from those afar.
DSG members created a video to showcase the Berlin CSD community and students as they worked to design, build, and solve one of the Design Squad challenges. The video was uploaded to YouTube as well as the WMHT Facebook page.
“The Design Squad is a wonderful opportunity for our middle school students,” said Wetmore. “It also prepares them for pre-engineering electives offered at our high school.”
Special thanks to WMHT and East Greenbush Home Depot for their support of these activities.