Disney Plus Launches Workshop Reality Show for Kids

The new competitive reality series shines a spotlight on all-star shop teachers, preteens and teens who have demonstrated shop-room savvy.

Friday nights just got a little more industrious (and competitive!) for Disney Plus subscribers— specially ones who love a DIY.

Shop Class, which premiered February 28, is a reality series scaled to preteens and teens in pursuit of a yet-to-be-announced dream prize. The eight-episode arc features shop teachers and kids ages 11 to 14 chosen from across the country, vying each week for a shot at the semi-finals and then the championship title.

Teams are given a challenge each week, work on it with their shop teacher/mentor, then are judged by a panel featuring DIY maven Lauren Makk and a rotating cast of Disney Imagineers. The panel rates the design creativity and build functionality of each finished project.

“We were surprised most by the difference in direction and imagination we were able to capture between the teams,” says executive producer John Stevens. “They design and build their own Little Free Libraries or mini golf courses … and ultimately each finished project was wildly different in each episode. You can dream up something and actually make it. To see that process happen and watch three different teams take their own approach was really cool.”

[Related: Check out these 12 things you and your kids can do with an old tire.]

Disney’s Shop Class was launched at a time when there is renewed interest in the DIY ethos, co-op maker spaces and recognition of the trades as an important part of our economy and success. While handing a power drill to a preteen may seem a little risky, with the right attitude and supervision it could really pay off.

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According to the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), the “maker revolution” is perfect for young people because they learn by doing. And as Stevens says, actual in-school shop classes have expanded far beyond traditional hammer and nails, paper and pencils. Shop classes now features 3D printers, CNC (computer numerical control) machines and other technological advancements.

[Related: Have fun making these DIY Lego keychains with your kids.]

Many leading organizations, including Understood, accept that challenges that empower kids in the moment also empower them in the long run. That is, challenges are just that: Not limitations, but opportunities to grow.

Harvard Business School established that with the “IKEA effect.” That means when people build or assemble something — even a small, imperfect item — it boosts the value of that item in the maker’s eyes. Self-esteem plus self-satisfaction, all incorporating brains, new ideas and innovation? Win-win!

You can stream Disney’s Shop Class with a Disney Plus membership.

Katie Dohman
Katie Dohman is an award-winning freelance writer who has written about home, design, and lifestyle topics for more than 15 years. Her work has been featured in Artful Living, Midwest Home, Star Tribune, and Teen Vogue, among many others. She is currently living her own how-to story as she and her husband work through a complete gut remodel on their 1921 home—while parenting three tiny tots and dodging their dog and cat, who always seem to be underfoot.