I may live in Pepperell, but I grew up in the town of Groton. Whether I’m reciting Hamlet with my friends in the ruins of Bancroft’s Castle, exchanging book recommendations with the Groton librarians, or even finishing my first half-marathon down Main Street, small moments like these connect me to 11,000 people I’ve never met.
This past summer, I decided that for all the generosity Groton has shown me, it’s about time I returned the favor—what I didn’t foresee was how much that same community would give me in the process.
After starting a product design and engineering club at school, I decided in the winter of 2021 that I wanted to expand these opportunities beyond our campus. So my next idea was born: Fabrication Laboratory, a nonprofit summer engineering program for local middle school students. But as straightforward as my idea sounded in my head, bringing it to life proved more difficult than expected, as I began to run into challenges like funding, advertising, classroom resources, even liability waivers.
I soon realized, however, that all I needed were the right people to ask—as I reached out to local organizations, my call for help was answered with the full might of the Groton community: I met with the town clerk and Groton Destination Committee to discuss program logistics, partnered with the Groton Visitor Center to implement an events calendar, and arranged advertising and classroom space with the Prescott Community Center. With a game plan in place, I submitted a written proposal to the Groton Community Engagement Board and won a $1,200 grant for my project, showing me time and time again the generosity of the surrounding community.
So with August approaching and the waitlist already full, I spent the first couple months of my summer compiling the product design, 3D modeling, and computer programming skills I had gathered over the years into four presentations and elevan challenge projects with only one goal in mind: to empower these sixteen middle school students with the ability to bring their ideas to life.
The first day of class arrived, and although two hours later my voice was hoarse, there was nothing more fulfilling than watching the kids laugh and scramble for materials as they worked together on their first engineering prompt. And later in the week, when I received an email from a mother that “Brie came home beaming,” I knew all of my efforts were worth it.
As students proudly displayed their final products, 3D models, and games to their friends, I cherished the honor of handing out certificates as a mark of their newfound engineering prowess. Despite serving as the teacher, I learned a lot from the Fabrication Laboratory. I learned the power of reaching out to a supportive community and, just as importantly, the importance of giving back. Groton gave me not only countless memories, but also unwavering support for the Fabrication Laboratory—the least I could do in return was to bring our idea to life.