Dream Big: Be Extraordinary

Posted Wednesday, February 22, 2017 at 6:25 AM

"Engineers do more than build walls; they change the future. You can too."

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Dream Big: Be Extraordinary

PostedThursday, February 23, 2017 at 2:27 AM

Dream Big: Be Extraordinary

In college, there were many times I doubted myself – like after every physics exam. My friend and I found a novel way to destress: we’d go to a nearby bookstore and spend time reading picture books. For me, it was a reminder that we all start at the beginning and learn as we go.

I thought about this recently when I came across a picture book called Bloom written by Doreen Cronin and illustrated by David Small. Bloom, the title character, is a “mud fairy” who goes to live the forest because she began to feel unwelcome in a kingdom where everything is made of glass. People said she was just too dirty and messy to belong.

But when the glass begins to break, no one knows what to do. Both the king and queen go to the forest to find Bloom and ask her how to save the kingdom. But when she offers them a bucket of mud, they ride away in horror.Cover of Bloom, written by Doreen Cronin, illustrated by David Small

Enter our hero: Genevieve, the smallest and quietest person in the kingdom, an ordinary girl.

Genevieve finds Bloom and learns the “magic that will save the kingdom.” But it wasn’t fairy magic. It’s the kind of magic that we all feel when we discover we can do something we didn’t know we could do.

Genevieve, with Bloom’s support and guidance, takes a chance, gets dirty, keeps trying until it she gets it right, and learns she can do extraordinary things.  Although she didn't know it, Genevieve learned to be an engineer.

Engineers build and rebuild kingdoms. They’ve been doing it for centuries, and we are still learning their secrets. Steve Burrows, an engineer featured in the film Dream Big, discovered during a special survey of the Great Wall of China that part of its strength comes from sticky rice!

Dream Big also features Angelica Hernandez, a young woman who discovered engineering when she joined a robotics club at Carl Hayden High School.

“One of my friends said, ‘Hey, I’m in this robotics club, do you want to come with me?’ So I just tagged along.  Then … I realized how much I could learn.  I could be doing so much more.  Applying what I learned, working with tools and design, and going to competitions. For me it was something that I had not thought about or realized before.”

Hernandez is a lot like Genevieve. An undocumented immigrant growing up in a low-income community, she persevered in spite of people telling her to quit. She graduated at the top of her class, earned bachelors and masters degrees and today works as an engineer to help companies be more energy efficient. As she says: ”No matter what you focus on, as an engineer you feel like you are part of creating our world’s future.”

I think Bloom would be pleased. But then she already knows: “There’s no such thing as an ordinary girl.”


What is something you might like to learn but haven't tried yet?


Image: The Great Wall of China at MuTianYu by Joan Ho. Retrieved from FreeImages.com

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