Student Guest Blog - Makena with Engineering Brightness!

April 28, 2020

We love hearing from students who are passionately finding ways to be change-makers not only during this time of uncertainty but every day! In part one of our of student blog series, we want to introduce you to Makena and she is one of those students who is working to make the world brighter and better. 

Makena is a middle schooler at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colo., and participates in Engineering Brightness! Engineering Brightness, a long-time partner of ours, challenges students to use entrepeneurial thinking and problem-solving to develop solutions for communities experiencing light poverty. Recently, students and leaders of the program have turned to finding ways to help local healthcare providers by 3D printing personal protection equipment (PPE) and even writing cards to express our community's gratitude towards these selfless heroes! Makena has been working hard to create cards of thanks that are shared with medical professionals in Northern Colorado. Read more about her awesome story below!

Engineering Brightness (EB) has been such a great experience for me to learn about engineering and helping for a good cause. I started at Preston Middle School this year in the 6th grade and did not know hardly anyone. When my parents and I toured the school, I was excited about Engineering Brightness as an afterschool program. 

I have enjoyed getting to learn how to make a 3D printed lantern and about the different countries that we help. We even got to meet someone from Guatemala and learned about the difficulties of having lights and chargers for their cell phones and other technology. I love EB because I get to work with new tools with friends, and when I am working I know that I am helping people. One day when we got to bring in our parents I got to show my mom how to make a switch, a part of the lantern made of 3 wires that we solder, which was cool because I got to share that with her.

I like EB because I get to make things. We have certain sections that we learn about such as: soldering, assembly and 3D printing. I enjoyed soldering because it is super fun! Soldering is kind of like glueing with metal. You take a soldering iron, which is a hot metal stick, and you touch the soldering iron to the solder and it melts onto the wire and that is what makes it stick after it dries.

Once school was on Spring Break, and then closed now for the rest of the year due to the coronavirus, I was disappointed to not be able to continue to make the 3D lanterns to send to Guatemala and other countries who need them. My mom saw that Mrs. Winey (teacher and one of the founders of Engineering Brightness) started to print PPE and created 3D printed masks to supply to medical professionals and that she needed cards created to help spread kindness with the delivery of these masks. I was excited to make the kindness cards because it was something that I could do from home and stay connected to EB as well as I am eternally grateful for everything that nurses and doctors have been doing for us. They have been risking their lives to try and save others and right now I don't think that people are realizing the work, the risks, and the hours that they are putting in to take care of other people so I wanted to thank them for how kind they were being.

I am very happy that EB is using their skills and materials towards a greater impact on others. I feel that EB doesn't just give lanterns to people who need lights, I believe that EB is a club where students use 3D printers to make things that can help others who cannot help themselves. EB gives love through objects that people can use to live. Once in a EB meeting we found out that the lanterns are saving lives because when the people from Guatemala don't have light, they have to light some fabric on fire to see, but that is producing a toxic smoke and if you breathe in too much then you could possibly die. I am glad that I get to be a part of EB because I know that I am changing the world one life at a time.