As the holidays rapidly approach, it is only natural for our thoughts to turn to those who are less fortunate in our community and find ways to come together to meet their needs. For students at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science (MSMS), this meant finding a way to bring smiles to the faces of local children. 

To that end, the student-led Engineering Club at MSMS has been working feverishly to create homemade Christmas toys for roughly 180 children at the Palmer Home and the Boys and Girls Club of Columbus. The concept, originally proposed by Engineering Club Secretary, Leah Pettit, was to leverage the school’s 3D printer and equipment in the Engineering Lab to design toys for local children. The Engineering Club, under club president, Daniel Smothers’ leadership, worked with Mr. Josh Crowson, Computer Science instructor at MSMS, to design a miniature catapult and fidget spinner for each child. In addition, the Engineering Club students created and painted a giant Jenga set for both organizations to have on-site. 

Dr. Germain McConnell, Executive Director of MSMS and Engineering Advisory Board Member stated, “Our students in the Engineering Club adopted very ambitious goals this year, the Santa’s Workshop project being one of them. Our students designed and built all the toys while working together as a unit with the sole purpose of blessing the children at Palmer Home and the Boys and Girls Club of Columbus. Providing opportunities for these types of student-driven initiatives is just one way MSMS nurtures students to become future STEM leaders in the state.”

The children at the Palmer Home and the Boys and Girls Club of Columbus were delighted to unwrap their holiday treats and were even more intrigued to learn that the students who delivered the delightful toys had made them themselves. In addition to spreading holiday cheer, the Engineering Club officers, Daniel Smothers, Leah Pettit, Jim Zhang, and Jagger Riggle piqued the children’s interest in engineering and computer science.