Energy Recovery Blog Picture“Anything is possible!” the intelligent engineer told the room full of excited and loud teenagers. Barriers such as funding, experience, and knowledge dissipated from our thoughts and crazy ideas flowed from our imagination like a waterfall. Imagine if someone had told you that you could create anything when you were just merely in highschool, and not only completely meant it but was willing to provide the means to do it! You would probably go nuts like our class did!

After we brainstormed tons of ideas with the Engineers from our partner, Energy Recovery, we began to narrow the extensive list down. We hacked away the craziest ideas and were left with the four best and most realistic for a semester-long project. The ideas were Energy Floors, a Wind Turbine, a Solar-Powered Automatic Chicken Coop Door, and a Living Roof with Solar panels on the woodshop. Our class of 29 students were split into four groups to research each of the possible projects and talk to the friendly engineers about their feasibility. After spending time researching, we presented to the class our findings and were left to ponder how we could possibly choose one of these amazing projects to create! Our research showed that getting approval for anything on a roof was difficult and time consuming so we decided to eliminate the Living Roof idea. We also discovered how difficult and young the technology was Energy Floors was and because of costs we reluctantly eliminated that idea as well. That left us with two ideas to choose from: the Wind Turbine and the Solar-Powered Automatic Chicken Coop Door.

While some of us did extensive research on these two projects in order to decide which one to pursue, other students went to the organic garden and produced a scaled drawing of the garden to give to one of our sponsors. They wanted the drawing so they could have the accurate dimensions and amount of wood they would donate for the fence we will also be building this year around our school’s organic garden. We are still deciding on the design of the fence that will allow sunlight to reach the plants and prevent animals like deer from entering the garden.

Finally, the anything but breezy decision was made. We will be constructing our very own Wind Turbine. We are very excited to start working on this with the engineers as soon as possible. We are still considering many different designs for the Wind Turbine including  a vertical turbine. Some designs require very minimal materials and are very cost-effective. We are still working out the details for the location of the turbine and what it will power.

Hammer and nails and lumber! Oh my!

During the times our partner, Energy Recovery, wasn’t able to grace us with their presence, we worked hard as we continued to prepare the wood donations for our upcoming projects. By prepare, we mean stripping the lumber of all nails, staples, screws, and the like and then cutting off the ends to make them look cleaner. We split up into multiple groups to get the job done. One group was in charge of taking out all of the rusty old nails, staples, and screws of our oldest donations and another group was in charge of the newer ones. After the lumber was in a much better condition, we sent it into the woodshop room, where another group was to cut off the ends. It turned out to be very successful process because we made a huge dent in the pile of reusable wood sitting outside the classroom. Now, we just need to start building with it! That is when the real fun will start.

From Learning to Creating!

Reclaimed DesignOur engineering class primarily depends on donations. Reclaimed wood is not always in the best conditions, but it can help give a vintage look making things out of it by reusing old wood instead of buying new wood is a more sustainable practice. In MarinSEL last year, our class had to develop a comprehensive business plan and this year we are implementing 8 of them. The business I am in is a reclaimed wood furniture design business called Reclaimed Designs. We build and sell wooden creations from tables to customized pencil holders for teachers. It’s so empowering to create a business, especially in high school, and learn so much by doing. If you want to see our products, check out our facebook page at or on instagram at @reclaimed_designs. We are also creating a website which will be at! Any donations, purchases, or donations would be greatly appreciated. We thank Ms. Oropallo and MarinSEL for giving us this amazing opportunity and developing our skills so we could create this business.


  1. I love the way that this blog is split into different subtitles!
    Regarding the content, I agree with Ember that I also gained appreciation for the intelligence and general knowledge necessary to becoming an engineer through the visits from Energy Recovery. In addition, it was really cool that we got to suggest ideas and vote on them ourselves because it shows that we have a say in the classroom.

  2. Researching the separate potential projects was really interesting; as the Engineers from Energy Recovery helped us delve deeper into the mechanics of these complicated products, I gained a new appreciation for the expansive intelligence that apparently goes hand-in-hand with being an Engineer. Although their work is centered around optimizing the energy that goes into desalination, they could effectively take us through the mechanics of an Energy Floor, and ultimately assist us in reasoning that that specific project was not the best option, given the time and resources available to us.

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