With AP testing over, and finals week just around the corner, we find our Junior year of high school coming towards its end. While this has prompted a mad dash to quickly finish up our playhouses, it has also shown us just how far we have come this year.
Walking into the engineering room on the first day of school, we were met with the daunting image of power tools that we had no idea how to use. Some of us were excited to learn how to use these tools, while others were slightly more apprehensive. In order to ease us into the engineering curriculum, we were given the spoon project.
The project seemed simple enough, use a block of wood and shape it into a spoon. This introduced us to tools such as the band saw (which Ms. Oropallo so delicately pointed out was used to rip dead cow carcasses in half), and taught us how to use potentially lethal tools in a safe way. My spoon didn’t exactly turn out how I wanted it to, one of the shadows told me it sucked (Sammy your brother is mean to me). Regardless, I had gained experience using the tools in the woodshop, and that laid the foundation to the playhouse project.
Through the course of this year, engineering has been, by far, my favorite class. We were given a lot of freedom with our playhouse projects, which not only allowed us to find a design that we were really passionate about, but also required lots of responsibility. This class differs from other classes in that we don’t just sit down and listen to a lesson. The majority of this class is hands on experience, which is a refreshing change of pace from in class lectures. We learn just as much from this class, if not more, than from other classes, and the engineering curriculum can be applied to our everyday lives. Even if we don’t plan on pursuing a career in engineering, it’s still a valuable skill to be able to use power tools. This class has taught me how to use all of the tools in the woodshop, how to communicate with a team, and it has also taught me about making mistakes.
A common phrase many people think about when they think of making mistakes is that you can “learn from them”. While this may be true, Ms. O’s engineering class has taught me that although you can learn from your mistakes, it’s important to try and prevent them from happening as much as possible. In other classes, such as math or english, small mistakes are easily brushed off. In a class like engineering, a small mistake can set you back a couple days of work. My group specifically had issues while making our roof. We kept messing up different aspects, and ended up taking down, and putting back up our roof three different times. Even though this created a lot of extra work for us, we planned on having people stand on our roof, so we knew it was crucial to make it as sturdy as possible. When we finally put our roof up the right way, we realized just how focused you need to be to prevent mistakes.
This was different from lead projects, where we are told that when we fail it’s good because we can learn from it. In an engineering class, it’s not so good to fail. A mistake in a project may mean that we don’t quite get the results we were looking for, a mistake in a playhouse means that someone could fall through a roof and break themselves. Fixing these mistakes often meant that we had to find creative ways to problem solve. For roofing, running out of plywood meant puzzling together plywood scraps, for painting, it meant adding a flower over a mistake.
This project has taken up so much of our time and effort, but it was worth every second. I thoroughly enjoyed working with my group, as well as Ms. Oropallo, to make our playhouse. Throughout the year I found myself looking forward to second period, and meeting with the second graders from Vallecito. This year has gone by so fast, and I can’t believe how well all of the playhouses have turned out. I’m proud of everyone for learning so much and working so hard, and I’m glad that we all got to have this experience together.

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