When I first held a drill, I thought to myself, great, I have no idea how to use this thing. I saw these tools as foreign objects that I could not fathom myself using. When I first began to use a drill, my hand would shake, and I lost control of the screw as I was drilling it into the wood. Now these tools are as familiar to me as pens and paper. I came into engineering both anxious, because of my lack of experience, but excited because I knew I was going to build something for the first time.
When I found out that our class was going to build playhouses for kids, I was ecstatic. I had a blast interacting with the second graders who shared their wild ideas that all came out at once: Ziplines, hot tubs, flat screen TVs, and refrigerators. This provided the creative impulse that drove the building project. The playhouse project been the best one yet.
Our playhouse began with a simple sketch on a piece of paper. For my group’s playhouse, we decided that our roof should be accessible for kids to play on. Never in my life have I ever done roofing, and it took my group three tries to get it right. It was frustrating and confusing, but when we hammered down the last strip, I was so thrilled that we had finally gotten it right. I’ve learned that sometimes messing up is the best way to learn.
Engineering has kept me, and I’m sure my other classmates, sane throughout this chaotic school year. There were countless nights I stayed up late with my history book before me, trying my hardest to memorize facts that I would easily forget the next morning. Or times that I was staring at my computer screen for so long, typing an essay, until I could barely stay awake. But then I would remember that I had engineering in the morning and a playhouse waiting to be built. The playhouses kept me motivated throughout this year. There is something about building that is so satisfying and free of stress. There is no memorization of trivial facts, tests, or quizzes required in this class, but instead design thinking, communication, and hands on work. I’ve learned more in engineering than I have in any of my other classes. Teamwork, time management, communication and thinking critically are just a few of the skills that I have developed.
Before taking this class I assumed that building was a man’s job, and a woman did not have the same ability. However, I found that women are just as capable of using drills, hammers, and saws just as fluidly and efficiently. Having Ms. O as our engineering teacher has been so awesome because she has proven that women can also be builders. Most of us came into the class not knowing how to use a drill, but she has always been so supportive and patient with us. Any time a group needed help or found themselves in a mini crisis, Ms. O was on the way to save the day.
Engineering class gave me a confidence I never thought I had. I never thought I could build a playhouse, but now as I stand back and admire my group’s hard work, I am proud. We began with a floor, then added some walls, and a roof. We had to build the railing to ensure safety and welded a ladder to allow access to the roof. Painting was the very last task on our list. We found our inspiration in nature and decided to do a day and night theme. It seemed impossible from the start, but as time flew by, the pieces of the playhouse came together, and the vision became real.
I’m going to miss this class the most. MSEL Engineering has brought our class closer, and has provided an outlet for us to channel our creativity through. All we have left to do is sell these playhouses! Thanks to Ms. O, we were able to build seven magnificent playhouses, each unique with their own specialties. I am confident that wherever I am headed in the future I will be able to apply the knowledge and skills I have attained from this class.