“This class is my favorite because there’s lots of hands-on projects.” Said one of the eighth grade shadows when asked which MarinSEL class he had liked visiting the best. As the eighth graders entered the engineering workshop last Monday and had the opportunity to observe a class period of us working on our wooden spoon project, their eyes were lit up with excitement. The same eighth grade shadow later exclaimed, “I am definitely going to apply to MSEL.”
I have to admit, when I heard that junior year would bring the addition of an MarinSEL engineering class, I was slightly doubtful and slightly nervous. I’d had next to no experience working with tools or building, let’s just say it’s never been one of my strong suits. A career involving anything to do with engineering was out of the question for me, so I didn’t exactly see the point of taking an engineering class.
However, over the past few weeks I’ve realized that engineering will prove to be a valuable experience for everyone in the class, regardless of whether or not they plan to pursue a career related to engineering. Hands-on projects are only part of it; we are also learning important skills like thinking outside of the box, finding creative solutions, and dealing with the unexpected problems that may arise in a project; even life for that matter. Think about it, if you learn to solve little problems and figure out what works to fix them, then take the concept of how it was fixed and apply it to your life, you have a way to problem solve!
For example, when I was using the bandsaw for the first time, I was still learning how to maneuver the wood to cut the curves correctly so off came a side of the guitar shape. Now, I could’ve freaked out “OH MY GOSH! It’s the end of the world! I cut my spoon wrong! Now I have to restart and it will take too long and I will get a bad grade and fail the class.” But, that’s not what I did. I took it over to the various sanding machines and reshaped it; it came out a little thinner than what I had expected, but it’s all about adaptation and being flexible, which is the lesson I took away from that. So you see, engineering class goes deeper than cutting wood or chiseling a spoon, it teaches us skills that will be invaluable tools in preparing ourselves for experiences later in life.
As our spoon project is coming to a close, we look forward to our next project: chicken coops. We already have a field trip scheduled for October to collect materials, so our semester-long project will be starting soon, and the rest of the year will certainly reveal many more exciting projects that we are all looking forward to experiencing.
by Dahlya Habashi and Amber Lane-Bortell