In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day this April, PBS KIDS GO!'s Design Squad is launching a nationwide 2010 Trash to Treasure competition, beginning on April 5th. Contest organizers are asking kids (ages 5-19) across the country 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.

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 was Max Wallack, 12, who won the grand prize for his "Home Dome" invention, which is largely made from discarded plastic and provides temporary shelter to the homeless and displaced victims of natural disasters.  Here's a video of Max, at Continuum, a design and innovation consultancy firm, building a full-scale version of the Home Dome:

Max's advice for this year's entrants is simple:  "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."

The nationwide contest will launch online on April 5th and entries will be accepted through September 5, 2010 at PBSKIDSGO.org/designsquad/contest.

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