Hello, my name is Sara Faunce and I am 11 years old. I had the privilege of fusing my two favorite vendor classes together; I took a shop class at Urban Workshop, a maker’s space in Costa Mesa, and Creative Writing taught by Raundi Moore. My creative writing assignment was to write and perform a TED Talk on an idea worth sharing, so why not do a TED Talk on why kids should take shop classes and list the ten unexpected lessons I learned at Urban Workshop?
Now I know that a talk on the Industrial Arts might not be that entertaining for the kids, so I brought a little toy with me. Raise your hand if you want a marshmallow! (Shoot launcher) Okay, everybody settle down. If it is okay with your parents and Ms. Carrete, after the showcase you can come to me, and you can try out the launcher yourself. I know your moms might not be happy about me giving you guys marshmallows before lunch. For all of you that are wondering what I am holding, this is a Marshmallow Launcher I made myself at Urban Workshop. Yup, you heard me correctly, a Marshmallow Launcher, but more on that later.
Let’s get started with my top ten list of unexpected lessons I learned in shop class.
Number 10, Respect.
For example, when you are sanding by hand or using a coping saw, you start to appreciate just how many hours of effort and money entrepreneurs put into their products and businesses. It takes a long time to cut or sand your piece of wood to just the right shape or roughness. But after a while I saw just how taxing it really was for artisans who had their own business. I mean once I spent 2 hours of my 3-hour class sanding all 4 of my walls for this little treasure box I was making. Imagine having to make 50 of those little boxes. That would be 100 hours of just sanding. That’s a lot of sanding, and I mean Lot with a capital L. I will never look at a handmade wooden item again without understanding the craftsmanship and dedication it takes to create it.
9. Patience or Frustration Tolerance
When I started Urban Workshop I hated hand sanding, and I mean I really hated it. I thought it was repetitive and boring, and why do it at all when you can use a machine and get it done in less time with less work? The surprising thing about sanding though is, once you stop resisting and complaining about it, it can be meditative. The smell of the wood, the feel of the textures in your hands, and the rhythm of sanding itself is awesome. Sometimes you have to work through something hard or repetitive to appreciate what it can give to you.
And now on to number 8, Persistence and attention to detail.
There is this saying; you have probably heard it, measure twice, and cut once? Well when you are working with wood or metal, it is very important to follow this advice. One class I forgot to measure twice and I ended up having to start the whole thing over. Now that was frustrating! (There’s that frustration tolerance again) But if you want to have a nice clean project, you need to have the exact measurements. And that also is a skill you need to have in life. What if you were baking and you didn’t double check and you ended up adding 1 tablespoon of salt instead of 1 teaspoon. I have done that before and those muffins were really salty.
# 7 Independence.
Having experience taking apart and reassembling a bike, making my own LED lamp, working with wood and metal, creating a model of Galileo’s pendulum taught me the basics of how things work. I may need that someday when I am off at college or I need to fix something. And it might cut down on any late night calls to my Dad! And who knew a kid could become an entrepreneur? I might need that someday too!
Concentration is really important because it keeps you safe!! If you are working with a chop saw, and you are not paying attention, I don’t me to scare you, but you could lose a hand!! My instructors are right there with me, but it’s instinct to concentrate when you are around a sharp saw that cuts through metal! Needless to say I am not thinking about Minecraft or checking my Instagram! Multitasking is not acceptable!!
#5 Problem Solving and Collaboration
We learned how to use several different computer programs to design t-shirt logos and create 3D printer projects. As you probably could guess, sometimes we got stuck and wouldn’t know how to do something or fix a bug in the program. But when we asked our teachers for help, they would just say “So go figure it out!” And we would. Often times we put our heads together and helped each other. They wouldn’t tell us what to do or what we were doing wrong until we had really tried and were completely stumped (or the program crashed 🙂 ) But that rarely happened, because we ended up figuring it out on our own. I also usually learned a couple of extra things along the way!
#4 Math and Science in the real world
If you are going to laser etch metal or wood, you need to know how much heat the etcher produces and you need to know the burning/melting temperature so that they don’t catch on fire or melt into a puddle! Geometry, metal science, physics, engineering, computer coding, math calculations and more math and more math….the list goes on. But here’s thing: math is fun when it helps you make something!!
#3 Physical Strength
Want six-pack abs? Forget Boot Camp! Take shop class!! Hand sawing, sanding, screen printing (who know it took brute strength to apply a logo to a tshirt), not to mention working up a sweat in welding gear!!
People who know me know might say I am obsessed with building in Minecraft. But there is something about making something with your hands that gives you a satisfaction you cannot get in a virtual world. It’s also pretty great to see the smile on my grandmother’s face when I gave her my handmade box for Mother’s Day.
None of the things we use in our daily lives would be here without creativity. Even a kid’s ideas can change the world. Let’s just say, it good to think out of the box….even when you are literally building a box.
Thank you for giving me the chance to share with you what I learned through Urban Workshop! If you want to see some of the projects I did, or try the launcher I will be around after the showcase.
We want to thank Sara for sharing her talk with us. Here are some pictures of her in class. Here is a link to a video of Sara.