From a STEM Student’s Eyes: Darrington-STEM

Guest blogger: As I look outside the bus window in the morning, the scenery flies by. We pass by more industrialized cities with Targets, Boeing plants, and large stadiums. Soon, the landscape morphs into gorgeous views as we drive by flowing rivers and giant Douglas fir, and even spot two bald eagles. This is how I know we’re close to our destination, Darrington, Washington.
It’s Monday morning. I’m not at school. I’m pretty excited about that. But I’m even more excited for our first Darrington – STEM partnership trip, where high school students from Tesla STEM help to increase interest in STEM fields for students down in Darrington, Washington.

When we finally arrive at Darrington’s only school, I head off the bus, and see younger kids eagerly smiling and waving through the windows. It was easy to tell that they were just as excited as I was for our activity today, Future City. Future City is a project-based learning contest where students design and build their own city on computers. We decided to take a twist on the project and hold a competition in March at STEM high school, with various prizes as awards. Students are to design a structure on Tinkercad (an online version of CAD) of a building which they would like to see in Darrington.

To begin the day, my group and I had the students brainstorm what they liked in a city, and what they didn’t like. It soon became apparent why these kids loved the small town of Darrington; they simply loved being outdoors in nature. Every single student gave some variation of an answer similar to, “Seattle’s too crowded. There are so many cars and pollution. I love how when you look outside the window in Darrington, you see the beautiful White Horse Mountain. I like the giant trees and rivers too.”

When it was time to design buildings students wanted to see in Darrington, I heard a wide variety of brainstorm ideas. A few kids started designing structures shaped like chickens, while others took a more serious approach and made giant hospitals. The imagination and creativity in the room far surpassed my expectations. Each structure was unique and was something that I would have never thought of myself. One group even came up with a sustainable way to operate a city, by turning chicken grease into biofuels. I was so impressed!

To my surprise, other students started designing a movie theater, ice cream store, a sports stadium, or other buildings that I often pass by. Some students explained to me that Darrington didn’t have these places that I drive by every day, all of which I took for granted. One girl told me it took over half an hour to drive to the nearest movie theater!

However, I was super happy to hear the students’ voices. I love how they know what they would like to add to their environment. In order to make a difference, I think it’s important to know what changes you would like to see. I can’t wait to see these budding engineers in March, the cool buildings that they designed, and of course, I definitely can’t wait to see what impacts these students will make in the future.

Anne Lee
Sophomore at Tesla STEM High School

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