Starting this year, I viewed the class of MarinSEL Engineering as a mandatory class that was needed to graduate as a SEL student, and a place in my school schedule where I could be either be sleeping or learning a subject that would impress colleges. I went into my first few weeks of class having, I’ll admit, not the best attitude. Being the stubborn Taurus that I am, I felt that since I told my friends that I was dreading taking the class, I had to stick to my word.
When we were told to get our tools, I put it off until I absolutely needed them. Even then, my dad, an avid woodworker, was the one who went to the store and got them to me. He excitedly explained all the tools that he bought me, required and not, as I sat on the couch getting lost in the gossip from the lives of those in Downton Abbey.
The weeks blew by, and my negative attitude slowly faded away with them. Ms.O’s peppy and determined spirit made it hard to dislike the class, and by the time we finished our first project, spoon making, I was smiling along with my peers. It was an added bonus that I came out of it with a far-from-perfect looking kitchen utensil, though my parents did gave me undeserved praise that I welcomed with open arms.
When the class and the higher ups of MarinSEL came to a consensus that we would be building chicken coops this year, I was happy to learn that I would be building alongside my close friends Nicole, Jasmine, and Esther. One of the first times our group met was with a group of first graders from Vallecito. I, personally, am not the biggest fan of children, so it was quite the experience to have eight little kids screaming, mostly unhelpful, ideas at us while we tried to accommodate all of them; It gave us a taste of how our teachers feel. If nothing else, it was a character building day for the group.
The next week our group met and designed our coop, including a scale model. The rest of the class seemed to be looking at our group with such remarks as “You guys aren’t going to get anything done,” or “Good luck with her in your group.” Hearing these things made us come to a group consensus: Our chicken coop had to be cooler, better, and more complex than all the other ones. We would show them. As a group, we decided to take on a hexagonal coop instead of the basic square or rectangle that all the other groups chose.
We made a list of all the things we’d need to complete our chicken coop, which included washers, bolts, a window, and much more. On the field trip we visited two junk yards. At the first, Urban Ore, we got some Plexiglas and a metal frame that we later decided to use as the frame for our nesting boxes. Since we didn’t get that much at the first stop, we had to look extra hard at the second. There, we found our window, nuts and bolts, chains, and all the remaining things from our list.
Once the building process got going it seemed that we were all on the same page: Excited to build and motivated to get it done quickly. So far, we haven’t had any problems other than one of us having to leave for a sports match every once in a while.
The progress I have made in my attitude toward engineering, and trying new things in general, makes me excited for trying new things in the future. Thus far, I have learned the power of good group work ethic,how to turn negatives into positives, and how to use various power tools. I know there will be much more I learn about this year, as we are only half way into the year.