Post-Secondary Partners

Our amazing post-secondary partners provide authentic experiences to supplement our IVD Projects and Professional Development, all while building a robust talent pipeline from Kindergarten to Career.  Contact us today to learn how your organization can engage with Square One!

At Square One we know that you want to equip your STEM teachers with state of the art skills and technology.  Unfortunately, you’re working with an ever more challenging budget.  You need a cost-effective way to build STEM Career Awareness and engage students in project based learning, while also facing ever increasing pressures to maintain evaluations, solidify enrollment, engage stakeholders, and improve test scores, all to maintain state funding.

We believe no administrator should have to forfeit their students’ access to authentic & engaging STEM projects, due to limited time and funding. That’s the value of our NETWORK – we partner with K-12 educators, higher education and industry.  Square One provides personalized service, offering programs that leverage Next Generation Science Standards to enhance and enrich your existing curriculum, and an affordable cost.

“Square one by far puts on some of the best hands on professional development that I have participated in. There is always collaboration and teamwork and a pure thought of pedagogy. Square one has also created student competitions that are feasible and fiscally responsible for school districts. I can not say enough positive words and how excited I am when I see Barb Land and what she is directing. Great Job!”

~ Anonymous Survey Respondent

“I love it (Square One IVD Program) because it is the Project in PBL. The NGSS is all about learning in context, not memorized isolated concepts and formulas. Square One programming gives me the context in which to apply classroom concepts and the opportunity to engage in the engineering cycle of continuous improvement. It is invaluable to what I do with my classes!”

~ Anonymous Survey Respondent

Feedback from our Educators

On a recent survey of teachers and administrators whose students have participated in Square One Innovative Vehicle Design (IVD) Challenges, those educators indicated that participation in a Square One IVD Challenge……


Improved Student Engagement


Improved & Simplified Implementation of NGSS Engineering Practices


Increased Awareness of Emerging STEM Technologies


Improved Student Soft Skills

NGSS Alignment – Engineering Practices & IVD Challenges

Asking Questions & Defining Problems

A practice of science is to ask and refine questions that lead to descriptions and explanations of how the natural and designed world works and which can be empirically tested.

Throughout the IVD Design process, student teams must utilize systems engineering principles to segment the very complex design challenge into discrete manageable questions & problems that can be more easily solved.  Students identify critical vehicle parameters and develop innovative methods of data collection to inform their design decisions.  In Full Scale IVD, teams learn about Rolling Resistance as a primary mode of energy consumption in vehicles.  Teams have designed testing regimens using force measurement devices, comparing actual vehicle rolling resistance using a variety of tires on their vehicle.  These kinds of testing and prototype development are critical to the design and optimization process. 

Developing and Using Models

A practice of both science and engineering is to use and construct models as helpful tools for representing ideas and explanations. These tools include diagrams, drawings, physical replicas, mathematical representations, analogies, and computer simulations.

As part of the IVD Challenges, students complete the “Engineering Spiral”, requiring them to develop ideas, build prototypes and test performance.  In the process of developing ideas, they use mathematical models to predict vehicle performance and make design decisions.  As an example, in Full Scale IVD, teams may use mathematical modeling of their vehicle characteristics, and the competition track, to predict energy losses during a “heat” of the competition.  These mathematical models can be used to evaluate the impact of changing wheels & tires, adding aerodynamic bodies, or changing limiting acceleration rates.  The models also inform battery sizing, and enable teams to identify an appropriate battery pack for their needs.   These mathematical models are often built using spreadsheet applications, allowing students to quickly and easily recalculate impacts of various design decisions.  As the design evolves, physical models (prototypes) are constructed to conduct design validation testing.

Planning & Carrying Out Investigations

Scientists and engineers plan and carry out investigations in the field or laboratory, working collaboratively as well as individually. Their investigations are systematic and require clarifying what counts as data and identifying variables or parameters.

Throughout the IVD Design process, students identify critical vehicle parameters and develop innovative methods of data collection to inform their design decisions.  As teams iterate the Engineering Spiral, they develop better and better solutions.  A critical component of this iterative process is to test and document the resulting changes in vehicle performance following design changes.  As with scientists who create “control groups” to isolate data streams, our student design teams must carefully design and carryout test protocols that isolate individual vehicle characteristics to accurately determine performance impacts.  Student teams archive their test data in Engineering Journals that are submitted as part of their final presentation.

Analyzing & Interpreting Data

Scientific investigations produce data that must be analyzed in order to derive meaning. Because data patterns and trends are not always obvious, scientists use a range of tools—including tabulation, graphical interpretation, visualization, and statistical analysis—to identify the significant features and patterns in the data. Scientists identify sources of error in the investigations and calculate the degree of certainty in the results. Modern technology makes the collection of large data sets much easier, providing secondary sources for analysis. 

Testing is a critical component of the Engineering Spiral, and data collection & analysis is obviously a critical component of testing.  This data collection and analysis is prevalent in all of the IVD Challenges as students build prototypes and test their performance to evaluate overall success of the vehicle and impacts of design decisions.  Specifically, Mini IVD places a large amount focus on the testing aspect of the engineering process.  Mini IVD students complete baseline testing on a stock vehicle, then design and execute testing protocols to determine performance impact of component modifications and maximize overall vehicle performance.  Through the Mini IVD Performance Missions, students investigate the impact of varying shock fluid density and viscosity, changing tire types, modifying gear ratios, altering battery types and capacities, and more.  With each change, students carefully document the performance data, analyze the results, and present their findings as part of their engineering presentation.

Using Mathematics & Computational Thinking

In both science and engineering, mathematics and computation are fundamental tools for representing physical variables and their relationships. They are used for a range of tasks such as constructing simulations; statistically analyzing data; and recognizing, expressing, and applying quantitative relationships.

Using mathematical modeling to simulate and predict IVD vehicle performance is a critical element of the IVD Design Challenges.  As an example, Full Scale IVD students calculate aerodynamic drag, rolling resistance, acceleration energy, combined with vehicle speed and acceleration predictions, coupled with track characteristics (curves, straights, hills, etc) to determine vehicle energy requirements per lap.  They also use torque curves and their vehicle performance characteristics to determine gear ratios and select an appropriate drive motor.  The use of mathematical modeling is a key element helping students to understand what engineering is, and what engineers do.

Constructing Explanations & Designing Solutions

The products of science are explanations and the products of engineering are solutions.

Each of the Square One IVD Challenges is completely built around developing products (machines) to complete tasks.  Designing and building solutions is the predominant focus of our work with students.  In every one of the IVD challenges, students develop machines (solutions or products) to complete a variety of missions.   

  • Full Scale IVD – students build electric go karts to maximize distance travelled in a limited time on two different tracks, focusing on energy efficiency and energy management
  • Mini IVD – students “test and tweak” RC cars to maximize vehicle dynamics and performance, tailored to a variety of track conditions.  Team vehicles compete in a high speed challenge, off-road agility course, and a road course.
  • Autonomous IVD – students design and build a vehicle to function autonomously (without any driver input), with capability to parallel park, avoid collisions, and follow lane lines.
  • Underwater IVD – students design and build an underwater robot to pick up items off the bottom of the pool, complete underwater surveying, and completing a high speed “ROV drag race”

In all of these cases, students are provided project parameters (the problems) and work as teams to develop solutions (their vehicles).

Engaging in Argument from Evidence

Argumentation is the process by which explanations and solutions are reached.

Argument with evidence is a critical engineering skill and is tightly integrated into Square One IVD Challenges.  As members of engineering teams, students are inherently required to justify their ideas with evidence when evaluating design decisions in a collaborative space with other team members.  We encourage teams to embrace this process and even document their work using the “Claim, Evidence, Reasoning (CER) Framework”.  In Mini IVD, CER documentation is required as a component of each teams’ engineering presentation.  CER is taught in a variety of classroom settings and content areas, but IVD Challenges provide a uniquely relevant context in which to use CER, clearly demonstrating the value of evidence based argumentation to students, specifically in an engineering context.

Obtaining, Evaluating & Communicating Information

Scientists and engineers must be able to communicate clearly and persuasively the ideas and methods they generate. Critiquing and communicating ideas individually and in groups is a critical professional activity. 

Communication is a critical skill for students and professionals alike.  Square One embraces the need for authentic, relevant technical communication as part of the IVD Challenges.  Each IVD Design Challenge includes requirements for a variety of communication elements within the judged awards (Innovation, Ambassadorship, Presentation, etc).  These award requirements compel students to demonstrate their skills in written and spoken communication via their Ambassadorship Outreach programs, their Engineering Presentations, their Marketing Assets, and their Engineering Journals.  Students must clearly articulate the design parameters, the products of their brainstorming, the design decisions they made, how they functioned as a team in a collaborative decision making space, the testing they completed and results of their data analysis, the outcomes of their outreach efforts, the unique challenges they faced and how they were resolved, and much more.

The NGSS Engineering Practices outline many of the key skills utilized by modern engineers, beyond just understanding engineering principles.  They represent the “how” and “why” of engineering, in addition to the “what”.  The Square One IVD Challenges are completely built around the premise of students designing machines to maximize performance in challenge missions – i.e. students ENGINEERING vehicles.  The IVD Challenges are therefore inherently suited to provide students the rich authentic context in which to learn these engineering skills and demonstrate their mastery.

How we do it.

We offer programs and resources that you can easily integrate with your existing instructional format and curriculum.  Square One Programs are extremely flexible in implementation – during class or as an extra-curricular, career tech ed or general ed classrooms, and appropriate for a variety of content areas (STEM, Computers / Programming, Physics, Mechatronics, Electronics, Automotive Tech, and more). 

Speak to one of our team members today to find out more information and schedule a presentation.  In the meantime, check out our website and Facebook to see what we’re all about.

Start equipping your teachers, through an upward cycle of engagement and funding with state of the art STEM learning opportunities.

Schedule a Presentation.

 “I am so proud to be a part of the Square One Education Network because it has further influenced my interest in engineering as a whole. I am always happy when I go to competition, whether we win or not, because I believe that’s what Square One Education Network values, is for the up and coming engineers to have a wonderful experience involving engineering!” 

C. Grant, Oak Park High School

Contact Us

26100 American Drive, Suite 607 Southfield MI 48034