Ornaments for stem and swim

Student transforms IT class project into fundraiser

Rebecca Jacobsen, Staff Writer

Since freshman year, senior Andrew Zheng has been a part of MN’s swim team as a competitor in the 100 meter breaststroke and 200 meter individual medley events. Towards the beginning of his final season, he took advantage of a unique opportunity in the Industrial Technology (IT) department to give back to the Swim and Dive program.

“It all started in engineering. We were assigned a project. We were supposed to make some ornaments that were supposed to exemplify a school activity, and we were supposed to sell them at the Crafts Fair. Brady [IT teacher] told us that if we wanted to, we could turn it into a fundraiser,” Zheng said.

Although many of the students in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Design and Development class did not evolve their project into a fundraiser, Zheng was inspired by Brady’s words of encouragement, leading to his two-month-long project of creating ornaments for the swim team to sell beyond the Craft Fair. 

“He [Zheng] approached me, asking what I thought about it [the fundraiser], and I said, ‘Great idea.’ The only thing he has asked me for to help is to send it out to the team [and] put it out on social media, but otherwise, he’s done all the work,” swim coach Andy Cunningham said.

About one dollar from each ornament sold in the fundraiser went back to the IT department for the cost of producing it; the rest of the money earned went towards the swim and dive program. Zheng sold around 80 ornaments at the beginning of November, the swim team accumulating a profit close to $200.

“[The proceeds from the fundraiser] will probably be used for either new flags over the pool for backstroke, or new equipment because a lot of our equipment is really outdated and old,” Zheng said.

By holding the fundraiser, Zheng was able to make a positive contribution to the swim team, as well as display to others a commendable ambition to make a difference in his sport. 

“I’m excited for the opportunity he [Zheng] has given the team to upgrade our performance in meets with this fundraiser, as we can purchase new fins, weights, paddles, snorkels, [and] warmups. I think this fundraiser will also show other swimmers or members of other sports here at MN that they, too, can take an active part in their team and help to improve themselves wherever possible,” swim team captain Tommy Eichmann said.

While giving back to the swim team through his fundraiser, Zheng was also able to exercise his organizational skills and ability to take the initiative.   

“It has been 100% him. In his class, he’s doing the work [to] actually make the bag tags and the ornaments, and he’s keeping track of all that. He has started it, and he’s the one seeing it all the way through to the finish, which is fantastic,” Cunningham said. 

In the end, the STEM Design and Development class’s ornament project proved to be the perfect task for Zheng to hone his engineering skills, develop valuable leadership characteristics, and benefit the swim team.