I returned to my kindergarten days when we made mud bricks in our freshman seminar at the beginning of the semester- I was always one of those kids that liked playing in the grass and dirt, building ‘houses’ for ladybugs and things like that. When we were initially given our materials, I was a little confused about how we were supposed to use each resource (since when did bricks have hay in them?). However, I quickly jumped in to help mix dirt, clay, and water for the main cement of the bricks. Someone suggested we take off our shoes and churn the mixture with our feet to make the process easier; not only did this keep our backs from breaking but also made the experience way more fun! While a few of us enjoyed stomping in the cool mush, others laid out hay or hammered together a stencil for us to use. Once we determined the correct ratio of dirt to hay to water, we allowed some fellow students to scoop the mixture up in shovels and deliver it to the stencil, where others packed it together. I think overall this exercise required more teamwork than any of the other ones- we needed input from every member such that it became somewhat of an assembly line so that we got our products out faster. By the end of it, we also had stamps on our bricks and had shimmied them out of the stencils. We had around sixteen mud bricks that we could have used for a potential wall, fort, or even igloo! Though this experiment required more clean-up and definitely a shower, it made me realize that ancient peoples often lived in communities because they needed strengths and help from others in order to be successful. It also made me realize that even boring tasks can be made fun- they didn’t need TVs or iPods or laptops to entertain themselves. I mean, who needs television when you have mud to stomp around in?

-Isha Kawatra