Learning New Tools

Learning New Tools

I remember being an eighth grader, shadowing MarinSEL and sitting in on the eighth grade information night. During those events we were told that we were probably going to be taking the MarinSEL Engineering class when we became juniors. This class was one of the main reasons why I was excited to be in MSEL, other than being a counselor at Walker Creek Ranch, because I had really never used a power tool before except getting to use a drill to carve pumpkins on Halloween.

Last year, when I heard we were going to get to make playhouses, I became even more excited because it would be similar to building a real house except for the plumbing and lighting and we would get to work with some second graders from schools very close to our school.

So far we have met the second graders a couple of times. The first time we met with second graders, we went to Vallecito Elementary School and split up into groups with two MarinSEL Students from our class in each group. In the groups we taught them about the meaning of sustainability and sustainable building and we asked them to come up with ideas for the playhouses we are going to make. They gave us great ideas like a swing  on the porch of a playhouse or a bookshelf where the kids could go find a book or board game and read or play games. We got some ideas that would be very hard to implement like putting a hot tub in it and giving a dog along with the playhouse. We met with them again, but this time in the engineering room at Terra Linda High, and we made models of the future playhouses out of cardboard and glue. They got to make whatever their heart desired out of arts and crafts materials and we would put it on the cardboard playhouse model. This gave us a younger mindset so that as we make our way through the design process, we can make sure the playhouses would be entertaining for younger kids.

‘Time flies when you’re having fun!’ should be changed to ‘Time flies when you’re building playhouses!’ This school year has been racing by and our playhouse is coming together. At the beginning of the year I was nervous because I did not believe that we could actually build a playhouse and I was also nervous that we would mess up somewhere and have to redo the whole thing.  Part of my concern was that our class got a late start on the being able to use the tools needed.  After we got started and learned how to use the chop saw and how to build the frame, it took us awhile, but my group started to form a rhythm.

For the first semester, my group and I had trouble finding something for everyone to do and dividing the work. One person would be drilling, two people would beholding a flame in position, and one person would be walking around not knowing what to do. Over time, we have learned that if we divided the work and we worked on two things at once, we can achieve more at a faster pace.

Currently, we have been finishing up the outside of the walls. We started by putting up the waterproof sheets. After we covered the whole outside, we screwed plywood in. Because every group is using plywood, the class ran out and so we are using pallet boards for the rest of the playhouse. This wasn’t our original plan, but we are all excited because when we are all done putting the windows in and done nailing the pallet boards in, we can stain them different colors!

I am excited to keep working on this project and see it through completion and to have kids really enjoy it!


23 Responses

  1. iswallow says:

    It was interesting to read about the dynamic of another group, which was remarkably similar to that of our own.

  2. esmith says:

    Great Blog! Haha I definitely agree, time flies when you are building a playhouse! It is crazy to me how this year is already over, it seems like just yesterday we were building spoons and learning how to use new tools.(the hacksaws did not fare so well)

  3. epowers says:

    Getting used to the tools were difficult for me too but it gets easier over time

  4. juliana.swanson says:

    Working with you has been such an incredible experience. Our group has made so much progress, and I’m proud of us for working so diligently despite the setbacks we encountered.

  5. nbarrolaza says:

    At first I was skeptical too, but some how we have all managed to do a great job!

  6. ameshcheryakov says:

    I think I speak for many that these playhouses have been one of the greatest highlights of the MSEL program, and personally the advanced engineering class have been one of the only reasons I came to MSEL which you touched on as well.

  7. kwaterbury says:

    Great job Morgan! Your playhouse looks amazing. I can’t wait to see the finished product!

  8. jgirgurina says:

    I agree that our group wasn’t the most efficient at the start of this project, and I’m happy that we’ve come a long way since then.

  9. Kmack Kmack says:

    Your introduction about being drawn to the MarinSEL program for the engineering aspect is really cool. It sounds like its everything you expected and more. Glad to see you are getting the skills you wanted out of the class.

  10. ercharlton says:

    Great blog! I agree that time flies while we build.

  11. hunterbiel says:

    Our group can relate to this. We tend to have a few people doing one big task and then someone just messing around. Giving tasks before hand is a great way to get things done.

  12. sstilson says:

    I was nervous to use the chop saw too. Your play house looks awesome now, though! Nice job!

  13. apham says:

    With all the talk of last semester, it makes me reminisce.

  14. lukastroller says:

    Well written. I can also identify with struggling to find something to do for everyone in the group. It can be hard to manage everyone’s desires and visions!

  15. gelias says:

    It was one of the reasons I joined MSEL too! I was so excited!

  16. rgiusti says:

    I was really exited to be taking this class as well. I agree with that somtimes it is hard to find a task for everyone to complete, so everyone has something to do

  17. sremedios says:

    Nice job at describing the different problems your group had to work through. Hope it goes more smoothly for you guys in the future

  18. eschultz says:

    Same as yours and cameron’s group, there aren’t many to-dos that require all three of us to complete.

  19. mkrizek says:

    Thanks to the playhouse project I have learned lots of skills that I otherwise would have to take a college course to learn. I am now confident with using a chop saw, skill saw, table saw, nail gun, and many other tools.

  20. nslanec nslanec says:

    Good update, I wonder if we can get them done in time!

  21. hnorman says:

    This is great Morgan. I also agree with Cameron that finding tasks for everyone and keeping all the group members occupied is easier said than done.

  22. mjames says:

    I agree with what you said about time flying when you’re building playhouses, it has all gone by so fast.

  23. cameronch says:

    I think my group can agree that finding tasks for everyone to be involved in was an issue at first as well. Good job Morgan!

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