Tool Time

Tool Time

No matter what we choose to do with our lives, engineering will always be relevant. Even if we choose a profession that never requires us to even look at a drill, it will always be an advantage to know how to use a hammer, chop saw, impact driver, and all the tools in between.

Before junior year started, my knowledge of engineering, both as a class and a subject, was very limited. I had helped my dad build before, but never without his close instruction. On the first day of school I walked into the Engineering workshop and realized exactly how much I had to learn; the only tool names I knew were hammer, drill, and wrench. I had no idea what most of the tools were even called, let alone how to use them. Everyone in the class had differing levels of experience and comfort using the tools, but we all learned the basics together from Ms Oropallo. As she explained each new tool to us, she made sure we felt comfortable while also understanding how to be safe using it.

The first project we did was small: the spoon project. The purpose of it was to start using basic tools like the table saw and sanders. I was excited for this project because it allowed us to design our own spoons and seemed like art.

The main part of our class this year is the playhouse project; an almost two-semester long project. This is by far the longest (and most rewarding) project we have taken on throughout high school. We work with the same two to three people in a group to design, build, and decorate playhouse for second graders.

At the beginning of our project we visited Vallecito Elementary School to ask second graders how they thought we should design our playhouses. Two juniors taught a group of ten second graders about sustainable building, biomimicry, and low energy buildings. We then asked them what we should include in our playhouses to make them fun. The answers we got were incredibly helpful. My group of second graders recommended a pool on the roof, hot tub, dog, and TV, Wii, and Playstation systems. However, once they realised that the electronics would use electricity and energy, they decided that they did not actually need them.

The next step for our playhouses was to visit salvage yards and hunt for things that we could use to decorate our playhouse. My group decided to get a couple boxes of CDs to create the effect of fish scales for the inside of our playhouse. We also got old corrugated roofing, hoping to use it for at least half of our roof to let in natural light. Lastly, we found tiles that were different shades of blue, and are going to create a mosaic if we have time.

So far, my group has built our playhouse structure: the basic four walls, a floor, and a roof. We have also installed our window. Since we started installing siding ater than some groups, there was only enough for us to put siding on two walls. This turned out to be a great opportunity for our playhouse because it made us look for more creative options to use. We ended up siding the third wall with redwood boards. Currently, my group and I are completing the front wall with pallet board.

Engineering so far has been a great experience and has made me develop useful skills that I will be able to carry into my future. The playhouse project has helped us all learn to adjust and work together in a group over a long period of time, as well as teaching us that creative solutions are everywhere. We have put over a semester of work into our playhouses, and it is great to see them take shape.

23 Responses

  1. iswallow says:

    I think the description of learning how to use the tools was reflective on how we all learned, which was interesting to hear in someone else’s words!

  2. ameshcheryakov says:

    very well written article and the interior of your playhouse turned out amazing!

  3. epowers says:

    I completely agree. I went in this class knowing nothing and I’m going to come out with a strong sense of how to use certain tools

  4. juliana.swanson says:

    I agree that using these tools was unfamiliar, but thanks to Ms. O., we’ve all become much more comfortable.

  5. esmith says:

    I agree that Ms. O was a great mentor, and that we have all grown a ton by learning our new tool skills. Great reflection on what we did for the playhouses and I like the creativity.

  6. nbarrolaza says:

    It sounds like you are really enjoying this class and that you have learned a lot.

  7. kwaterbury says:

    I think its great how you were able to get creative with your playhouse, despite not being able to put a pool on the roof. Your playhouse is going to look amazing with the CD’s in it.

  8. cameronch says:

    To me it seems like you have grown a lot through this process. What you have learned is really helping you!

  9. nslanec nslanec says:

    You guys have been working hard on that and I cant wait to see the final product

  10. sremedios says:

    Nice explanation of the process of your building and how you got to know the tools.

  11. mmcdaniel says:

    I totally agree! I walked in to engineering only knowing the name of a hammer and a drill. Going to the two junk uards was so much fun!

  12. jgirgurina says:

    I agree with your description of the second graders, many of them suggested elaborate plans for our playhouse too!

  13. sstilson says:

    I really like how you improvised the siding on your playhouse with redwood boards. Nice job!

  14. eschultz says:

    I am sure we will all have to use these tools in the future and it is very rewarding to know we have the skills to use them.

  15. Kmack Kmack says:

    Sounds like you’ve leaned a lot. Hopefully now you can build without your dad’s close instruction

  16. hunterbiel says:

    I think it’s great that you learned a lot and feel confident in using all of the tools. All of the skills we learn in the class will be used later on in life.

  17. mjames says:

    When I walked into engineering class for the first time I also only knew the names of a hammer, a wrench and a drill. It’s amazing how far we have come as a group!

  18. apham says:

    Tools are useful and knowing how is super underated.

  19. lukastroller says:

    I liked how you spent a lot of time describing our warehouse expedition. Those two “junk” yards have been one of the best experiences of the entire year for me; thank you for revisiting them!

  20. hnorman says:

    I think it’s really cool that on just a short amount of time you were able to learn all about the tools and everything else also.

  21. mkrizek says:

    Some of the kids ideas were very helpful but some of them were crazy. We were told to build a ski resort, a PlayStation, a zip line, and many other crazy things.

  22. gelias says:

    I totally agree that learning how to use these tools is super usefull!

  23. rgiusti says:

    I think it is very good that you seem to have really enjoyed the experience

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