Spoons and chickens and (lots of)words- oh my!

I never recall much from the first day of school, everything is so chaotic! Bumping into people who seem to have grown at least 2 feet since last year, trying to find a class that simply does not want to be found, coming up with a plausible excuse as to why my summer assignment is not yet finished, its all a bit overwhelming when you’ve come from an amazing summer of sunny, care-free beach days! I do however recall that I knew exactly where to find the engineering class. Not that it really counts as a classroom per-say, it’s more of a large complex the size of 3 classrooms, filled with outlandish machinery atypical to the everyday high school classroom. Inside there are various work tables centered around alarming and loud metal blades. Strewn amongst the work tables and menacing metal machinery are various projects in different stages of repair/completion- in one corner a wine barrel, a wooden spoon that looks like a tree here, a playhouse castle over there- it’s almost like walking through an artist’s loft. Everything in the class is always so interesting and such a clear reflection of the creator.

One thing I love about this class is that it combines creativity and practicality. The class doesn’t simply focus on art nor does it focus on simply creating a means to an end. It combines the two, giving the builder the freedom to create what they wish. In the first few weeks of school, we were all given a rather unremarkable looking block of wood and told to make a spoon out of it. I admit I was skeptical of the plausibility of this project, but once Ms. Oropallo pulled out examples from previous students, my excitement started growing. I’ve always had a bit of an obsession with self-sufficiency. I enjoy crafts and painting, like most 8 year-olds I brought my parents a never ending stream of severely mis-proportioned butterfly paintings and atrocious self portraits. I also had interests in knitting, sewing, gardening, pottery, candle making, weaving, and cooking. The idea of creating everything you need for yourself is strongly appealing to me not because of the independence factor, but because everything you make is strictly conformed and endemic to you personally. Everything you create is a reflection of you as a person; your mood that day, your beliefs, your dreams, they are all reflected in what you choose to design or build or paint. I only wish I had been introduced to engineering at a younger age!

I think this class is an especially important class for girls to take. At least in my case, neither my mom, nor my sister, nor I really know how to fix anything in our house. Whenever something decides to rebel against us and starts malfunctioning or beeping mysteriously, we all rely on my dad to repair said malfunction. I may not be a full on handy-man capable of fixing anything (yet!) that decides to break down on me, but at least I now know how to use a drill. I now know the basic structure of my walls and how far apart the studs are placed so I won’t accidentally nail something into the plumbing or electrical wiring. Now at least I’m not completely helpless when it comes to building, I can rely on myself, which as previously stated, I regard as an important attribute.

I also love Ms. Oropallo’s form of teaching. Not only is everything hands on- I can count on one hand the number of times we have had a lecture class- but there really aren’t any restrictions. School curriculum in general is very rigid, even in the more creative classes, everything is graded with a criteria of what a project needs to look like or what it’s lacking. In engineering, you have a basic idea of what you need to build and a rough structural outline of how to make it, but the rest is up to you. If you want to create a particular design, Ms. O will tell you the steps you need to perform to complete it. She won’t dismiss your design simply because she thinks you’re incapable, she’ll work with you and help you. Like with our chicken coop projects. Our main project this year is to build chicken coops out of recycled wood. Each of us were put into groups of 3-4 and we were tasked with building a chicken coup. Even though our coops are nowhere near completion, I can already tell how different and amazing all of our coops are going to be. Each team member brings something unique and invaluable to the design of the coop, and while we all add our own unique touches, the coups are also a reflection of each group as a whole and their collective ideas and traits. I’m in a group with Sophia, Katie, and Natasha. The going was slow at first, there was much speculation about measuring and making sure our coup was perfect. Yet over the next few weeks as we got better at managing the various selection of tools we have at our disposal, we have been accomplishing more. We are now working on siding with pallet boards and our egg box (the outside of the coup and where the chickens lay their eggs). I’d say that this class has been both a highlight of my academic week and a powerful learning experience, I can’t wait to see what the final products will look like!

23 Responses

  1. Ben says:

    Oh my this is long, but I love it! You start off with an amazing description of the first day and where we were, and then – oh my God you cover everything! Everything from Ms. O’s teaching style to the types of projects – it’s enough for at least 3 blog posts and it’s all great!

  2. leinharper says:

    Agreed, I really love the amount of experience this class provides, I also feel much more capable. I also love your coop, its compact design is super appealing. I wish my coop was as spatially efficient as yours.

  3. michaelaobrien says:

    I love doing crafts too they are so much fun and I also was very excited about the spoons as well, it was a very empowering how independent it was. I also love how Ms. O teaching, it makes you feel great by the end of it because you get to look back at it and say you built that, and just having the feeling of finishing something is amazing.

  4. chrisbarajas says:

    Lizzie, I relate to the inability to remember the first day, perhaps it is a result of our minds trying to protect themselves from the traumatic event of leaving summer vacation. In all seriousness, your post is very vivid and I especially like the way you describe creative aspect of the class that a lot of people seem to forget.

  5. madymckim says:

    Great blog! I too love the hands on learning aspect and as a women, this class has empowered me and showed me that engineering isn’t just a man’s job. I agree with the practicality portion of the class because I think like that. Excited to see your finished coop!

  6. NathanRoll says:

    Lizzi- I really enjoyed your post. The way you expressed how you felt really resonated with me because I agree that this is an AWESOME class. The importance of learning these skills is undeniable, and I share your admiration for our ability to be creative.

  7. natashasaccardi says:

    i also love little crafts and things and how this class is a bigger better version! Its been really fun building this coop with you and even though we struggle with measurements i think it’ll all turn out wonderful!

  8. palomasiegel says:

    Lizzi! Its such a joy to read what you have to say, its so well-written and engaging! I agree that this class is a necessity for girls to take, it empowers me and reminds me that I am capable of taking care of myself! I love your reflection of the way this class makes you feel like an artist, I never really thought about it that way. Thanks for your hilarious and personal comments!

  9. madelineknopf says:

    I completely agree that Ms. O has a really great teaching style and that we can count the number of lectures we’ve had on one hand! I can’t wait to see your coop!

  10. devonstapleton says:

    Nice job Lizzi! I also can’t wait to see what the final product looks like! I think there should be more girls taking this class, and showing the boys how it is done. I can’t wait for the day when I can fix something in my house instead of my Dad doing it.

  11. minaanderson says:

    It really is such an interesting idea to make everything you need, and seems to open up a door and make you want to learn. Its super cool that you have found places to use your skills, and feel confident in them for moving forward:) You are fantastic, Lizzi!

  12. sophiademetriou says:

    I love being in a group with you, Katie, and Natasha! I agree the measurements were rough on us at first, but we are doing great! I can’t wait to see how everything turns out!

  13. varianbartolini says:

    Great job Lizzi! It is really cool to see everyone’s own artistic components to their projects.

  14. mondesiresther7 says:

    Great job Lizzi! I agree that each group member brings their own unique touches to the coop building process because that’s what makes them special.

  15. AimeedeBlaauw says:

    I thought it was interesting that you said the class combines creativity and practicality because i never thought of it that way.

  16. jmeshel jmeshel says:

    Great Blog.
    I liked your poetic diction in your first paragraph. I also enjoyed how you stated that this was the class that you looked forward to each week. I am also exited to see the final product of the coop.

  17. morgan says:

    I agree with you! Self-sufficiency is one of the most important things we can have. Engineering is also such a good class for girls, my mom and sister and I always would rely on my dad to do all the handy work. Your writing style is great and this was a very fun blog to read!

  18. georgina.sn says:

    Nobody really thinks of building as a way of art, but it is! It is really does reflect all of your emotions in the moment. Mrs.O’s teaching is half of what makes the class so fun. Can’t wait to continue!!!!

  19. katieserna says:

    Lizzi I loved reading your blog! You’re such a good writer! This is such an amazing class to take because like you said we can get a basic understanding of how to use tools and how things are built. I’m so proud of our group, even with all our measurement struggles we’ve gotten so much done and our coop is turning out really well!

  20. MayaCarter says:

    Lizzi! Your blog was so much fun too read. I loved how you talked about how you didn’t remember much about school except where the engineering classroom was. It’s also really cute about how you talked about doing little crafts like an 8 year old. I can’t wait to see what your coop looks like.

  21. NicoleReznik says:

    I totally agree on how girls should especially be taking the class because it is so important to learn these things. I can now probably fix things in my house and can hands down list a lot more tools than I knew. Your blog was very relatable and I was pleased while reading it.

  22. jasmineinouye says:

    I love this so much Lizzi! I can totally agree that his class is super helpful for future references. I can also relate to your excitement over the spoon project, I loved it so much! Are you thinking about taking on Ms. O’s internship? I can’t wait to see your chicken coop when it’s all done!

  23. renerodriguez says:

    I agree! it DOES look like an artist loft. I am really grateful Ms. O does’t dismiss our design because she thinks we are incapable like other teachers might usually do. Really well written!! keep up the good work Lizzi

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