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April 7, 2010 > PBS Design Squad to feature youth eco-innovation

PBS Design Squad to feature youth eco-innovation

Submitted By Kathryn Hathaway

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Design Squad is launching the nationwide 2010 Trash to Treasure competition on April 5 at Following the success of last year's inaugural Trash to Treasure contest, kids across the country ages 5-19 are once again challenged by PBS' Emmy and Peabody Award-winning series to recycle, reuse and re-engineer everyday materials into new inventions.

Three young innovators will win a trip to Boston to see their designs built and have the process chronicled for an upcoming episode of the engineering TV series.

According to Design Squad executive producer Marisa Wolsky, "This is an opportunity for kids to give a second life to an object they or their household would have otherwise discarded. We expect that this year's entries will run the gamut, from trying to fill a pressing societal need to offering something whimsical and fun."

The rules are simple. The invention should fit within one of the three categories: move things or people (Mobility), protect the environment (Environmental), or be used for indoor or outdoor play (Play). The invention also needs to be made of at least two repurposed materials (such as fabric, paper, plastic, small electronics, wheels, clamps, springs, batteries, hardware, wood, bike parts, string, rubber bands, cardboard, kitchen gadgets, etc.) Kids will be given online tools to sketch out their ideas or upload a photo. (Kids don't need to actually build their invention in order to enter.)

Last year's winner, Max Wallack, 13, inventor of the "Home Dome"-a temporary shelter for homeless people and disaster victims-gives this advice to this year's entrants, "Identify a problem and then try to come up with a solution to it. Be prepared to make several attempts at designing before one design jumps out as the right one."

Three winners will be selected from this year's entrants to come to Boston to work side-by-side with the team at the award-winning global innovation design consultancy Continuum and see their idea come to life. At Continuum, their winning designs will be prototyped and the process will be chronicled by the team behind Design Squad. Their stories will be shared with a national audience on an upcoming episode of the Design Squad series and website

Twenty-five finalists will have their ideas showcased on the series website. The nationwide contest is open for ages 5-19 and will launch online on April 5. Entries will be accepted through September 5 at

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