This semester I embarked on a journey with my 6th grade students in my STEM Lab class all the way from small town Blackshear, Georgia, USA to the Guateng region of South Africa. How did we go there, you may be wondering? Well, it was a virtual field trip created by a partnership through the Design Squad Global Club and PBS Kids. I stumbled upon this opportunity on the PBS Kids website when I was searching for STEM learning resources for my school year and signed up to partner with a school. Both of my 6th grade STEM classes were paired with after-school clubs in South Africa. Through email correspondence, I met the club leaders in South Africa and we were ready to start sharing our learning experiences with the kids.

This has been a 6 week journey and the kids have loved every minute of the activities and videos as we have gotten to know what life is like for students our same age many miles away! First we introduced ourselves to our partner group and we asked and answered questions from them to get to know them better. We did our own research about their part of the world and then we were ready to get started with the design challenges. Each week we tackle a new challenge to solve a real world problem using the engineering design process and share our solutions with our friends. The students have been excited, open to new ideas, working as teams and solving problems in a hands-on learning environment. The kids have taken pride in their work and have learned to recognize and celebrate good design in their peers as we have completed each challenge.

The resources provided by DSG and PBS are easy to follow and give you all the information you need to instruct and set up each activity. I highly recommend Design Squad Global to any teacher who is looking for easy ways to incorporate STEM activities into any content or curriculum. This activity can be done within the school day or as an after school club. Both of our partner groups work it as an after school activity even though we use it as a class activity. Since I see my kids more often than our partner group, we have built in supplemental research, technology integration and videoing as part of our time. Communicating and connecting with students in another country has been an invaluable learning experience for my students, and I hope to continue working with Design Squad Global to afford this opportunity to all my students at Pierce County Middle School.

Click here to learn more about how you can use DSG in your classroom. 


Brandi Metts is a guest blogger for GPB Education. She has lived in Pierce County all of her life and has been teaching at Pierce County Middle School for 15 years. Brandi's career at PCMS began as the gifted resource classroom teacher and now teaches the connections department keyboarding/career courses for grades 6-8. She truly enjoys each day with the students and faculty at PCMS.