NanoGEARS’ first Gears!!!

NanoGEARS’ first Gears!!!

This post is probably much more fitting over at my normal blog (not that I’m trying to advertise or anything) but Engineer Blogs posts normally have a picture to hypnotize (hmm, no…) draw in (no…) accentuate the discussion. DrWife and I were perusing some local garage sales recently where we came across an awesome toy for NanoGEARS. Obviously, with the pseud GEARS, I had to buy it. NanoGEARS likes chewing on the gears and holding the pieces but other than that, she has no idea what to do with it. Now, she’s 16 months old. It’s not like I’m expecting her to calculate pitch ratios or anything like that.

But it did get me thinking of the following question. What was my first real engineering-like problem? I do remember helping my father when he worked on his car. I also built a popsicle stick bridge in HS (which caused me to switch from business to engineering for college). Even before then, however, I think the seeds were sown for me to be an engineer.

My oldest recollection of me doing some engineering (or engineering-like project) was in the first grade. It was around winter recess time which meant students would make the obligatory decorations for Christmas (sadly, no FSM meatball origami). Our project in class was to build a paper stocking out of construction paper. The instructions were (roughly) as follows:

1. Cut out two stocking-shaped pieces out of red construction paper.

2. Glue some cotton balls at the top of each stocking, making sure to glue cottom balls to the front of one and to the back of the other.

3. Let it dry.

4. Place the two stocking halves on top of each other. Use a hole puncher to punch a line of holes around the sides and bottom of the stocking. Do not punch holes at the top.

5. Thread some yarn through the holes around the stocking. Tie at the ends. Voila! You have a homemade stocking.

You see, me being the budding engineer, I decided that I wouldn’t be able to fit a lot of stuff in that stocking. Rather I had a different plan. Instead of punching holes in the edge of the stocking halves and using yarn to secure it, I had a better idea. I cut a bunch of extra strips of red construction paper, roughly 2″ by 1″. I folded the edges of each piece, making a very shallow “U”. Then I glued the outside of the U to one half and the other side of the U to the other half. In profile, you can imagine it looked like this: ” |U| “, except the sides were much taller than the vertical lines I just used. This allowed me to have a much fatter stocking than the other kids so I could fit more stuff in there.

I’m not sure if this was the case but maybe it was this simple little project from first grade that led me to being an engineer today. Maybe NanoGEARS playing with some gears at 16 months old will turn her into an engineer that’s 1000x better than I could ever be.

So what got you started in engineering or what’s you’re earliest recollection of doing some “engineering”?


As crazy as it sounds, I think this is what crochet did for me. I learned when I was about 9, and I discovered I wanted to make more than just hot pads. I began to learn to make all kinds of shapes and connect them together and even came up with my own way to connect things. I was absolutely thrilled when I learned that there is a bunch of math that can be demonstrated with needle arts.

Between that and my father being a carpenter for many years, I think I got a good sense of how to use math skills and make things…which makes for a good scientist and engineer.

I was obsessed with crocheting around that age, too! I didn’t tie it into math though. I think I just liked making things.

Comments are closed.