If It Ain't Broken, Don't Fix It... Improve It

Describe the world you come from — for example, your family, community or school — and tell us how your world has shaped your dreams and aspirations.

I belong to a secret community, one where nobody has seen another’s face or knows the other’s name, yet we still support, motivate, and learn from each other. I belong to NerfHaven, an online community of “Nerf Modders.” As Modders, we modify toy Nerf guns to make them better, which could mean removing an air restrictor to increase shooting range, installing a spring with a greater spring constant to increase power, or reinforcing the plastic plunger rod with metal to increase durability.

I began modding in fifth grade, after stumbling upon YouTube tutorials, but struggled initially under the guidance of amateur Modders. Fortunately, I discovered NerfHaven, the home of modding gurus CaptainSlug and Forsaken_Angel24. They forced me to think innovatively. I never would’ve imagined fabricating homemade darts out of foam backer rod, traditionally used to insulate buildings. Or constructing a semi-automatic clip configuration out of PVC pipes, commonly used for plumbing. I was excited to apply these concepts to my own projects and became more passionate with each one I completed. I would stay up past my bed-time, envisioning my next modification, then wake up sleep-deprived yet eager make it a reality. As projects became more...

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