iEARN-USA Launches Design Squad Latinx!

Design Squad Logos

The International Education and Resource Network-USA (iEARN-USA) is thrilled to announce a new program partnership with the WGBH Educational Foundation, a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) affiliate in Boston, and iEARN Orillas in Puerto Rico to create the Design Squad Latinx program. 

The program will create a global community through fun and engaging STEM programming that will meet the unique needs and challenges of Latinx students. iEARN-USA will leverage its expertise in virtual collaborations and project-based learning to train educators and Latinx students ages 10-13 in Puerto Rico and the U.S. to work with each other on engineering and design-thinking projects. As the current job market increasingly calls for technical skills coupled with soft skills like creativity, empathy, and cross-cultural communication, iEARN’s expertise in training educators and students alike to acquire global competencies is critically important for preparing today’s global workforce. 

iEARN-USA’s Executive Director Stefanie Ortiz-Cidlik reflects on the importance of the Design Squad Latinx program: 

“With the increasing connectedness and globalization of our economy, employers are looking for more than technical skills; they want people who are able to adapt, communicate, and work well with a diverse workforce and clientele. Through iEARN’s unique approach, students are able to break down cultural and geographic barriers to connect with their peers in other parts of the world and engage in meaningful dialogue and activities that build global awareness and competencies. The Design Squad Latinx program is exciting because it builds global connections through fun, hands-on STEM activities that can spark an interest that leads to a future career path for students.” 

iEARN-USA has previously partnered with WGBH to facilitate connections between Design Squad clubs in India, Kenya and Rwanda and their counterpart clubs in the U.S. This is the first time, however, that the program will be brought to Latin America. The focus on Latinx students comes at a time when they are disproportionately underrepresented in STEM education and careers—only 7% of adults in the STEM job cluster are of Hispanic/Latino origin (Pew Research Center, 2017). Latino students often do not see the synergy between engineering and their own personal interests, daily lives, or social and cultural practices. The program will attempt to counter this phenomenon by testing a strengths-based approach to learning that will engage students by having them utilize their own personal and cultural experiences to connect with traditional engineering curriculum. 

This strengths-based approach will be fortified by engaging a broad coalition of stakeholders to create a STEM learning ecosystem. Engineering professionals and undergraduate engineering students will act as mentors to the clubs, providing Design Squad Latinx students with role models to envision pathways into engineering schools and professions. iEARN-USA envisions this program as a unique opportunity to contribute its expertise to equip Latinx students with the global competency and design-thinking skills and networks needed to be successful in a 21st century workforce. 

Please visit iEARN-USA and Design Squad Global Clubs to learn more. 

The WGBH Educational Foundation was established in 1951. It oversees all of the PBS member stations licensed to the state of Massachusetts. It also researches, creates, and distributes all of PBS’s media-integrated resources that support healthy development and educational impact for children and youth. 

Created in 1988, iEARN-USA is part of the International Education and Resource Network, a global non-profit organization in 140 countries that empowers and equips  educators with the tools and skills to use technology to engage millions of students worldwide in collaborative project work. iEARN was named one of the top innovative school models for the future by the World Economic Forum in 2020.

iEARN ORILLAS, created in 1985 and based at the University of Puerto Rico, promotes multilingual learning and collaborative critical inquiry in the USA, Puerto Rico, and other parts of Latin America. Orillas joined iEARN in 1995.