MVRT rookies showcase

New members present their month-long projects to parents

Andie Liu

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On Nov. 22, first-year members of Monta Vista Robotics Team (MVRT) showcased their engineering projects at Parent Night in the MVHS library. In addition to introducing the design process, materials, challenges, budget and outreach program, each team of rookies described the game their project was based on from a past season and demoed their creation. Officers of MVRT concluded the night by giving parents information regarding the 2020 season kickoff, build season and regional competitions.

While the first day of build season isn’t until Jan. 4, 2020, the rookies were able to cultivate skills that eventually would be useful during the season — with the same materials and methods MVRT uses on their competition robot, according to MVRT adviser Ted Shinta. However, freshman Tristyn Bonsen realizes that the upcoming build season will be more difficult than her project.

“We’re going to need to come up with designs that actually work well and actually solve the problem,” Tristyn said. “We’re going to need to work faster than we did and we’re going to need to work more efficiently.” 

According to Shinta, after working for three days a week for a total of 10 days, the rookies ended the project by presenting to the parents, who provided the groups with the recognition they wouldn’t typically get from a class project.

“[Parents Night] gives the students something to shoot for in working on their project,” Shinta said. “So they take it a little bit more seriously because they know they’re going to present to the parents and then also it gives the parents a chance to see what their students are doing. I think it’s good for the students, especially when their parents are there, and they get a little applause and appreciation.”

Director of outreach senior Ranya Pendyala agrees with Shinta that the opportunity for students to present to parents is beneficial to both the presenters and the audience. Since the rookies are new to the club, MVRT takes advantage of the event to provide parents with visual information about club activities.

I think this event really showed them, my child contributed something that’s engineering related, they built this on their own in a group.”

— Ranya Pendyala

“I think it’s important that the parents know what their students are going to be able to commit time to, because a lot of times parents are kind of unsure about what robotics is really about,” Pendyala said. “And I think this event really showed them, my child contributed something that’s engineering related, they built this on their own in a group.”

Shawn Bonsen, Tristyn Bonsen’s mother, came to the event to learn more about what her daughter was doing at the trainings and was especially supportive since her daughter wants to pursue engineering in college. 

“When I was in high school, there was no such thing [as Robotics Club], and she’s very interested in robotics and science and engineering,” Shawn said. “I want to support my daughter and what she’s doing and let her know that it’s important. That all of her efforts are recognized.”

While Shawn doesn’t have experience with high school robotics, the officers and experienced members of MVRT provided assistance to the teams throughout the whole process. The officers led each team’s project and made sure that they were on track for their presentation. Aside from gaining engineering and hands on knowledge, Pendyala wanted the rookies to learn how to work together as a team. 

“I think a lot of times, rookies can be really afraid to work with other people,” Pendyala said. “And they get kind of overwhelmed by like, ‘Wow, I’m meeting so many new people, how am I going to work with them? This is really terrifying.’”

Shinta shares Pendyala’s prioritization of teaching teamwork and communication, in contrast to group projects in a traditional classroom setting. 

“Because they’re in groups, I’m hoping that they got used to working together as a group, not just relying on one person to do everything type thing,” Shinta said.

Besides learning the skill of collaboration, Pendyala hopes the rookies improved their public speaking skills. Each member in the group was designated to speak about a particular aspect of their project so that everyone participated in the presentation.

“I know [presenting in front of a crowd] can be terrifying at times,” Pendyala said. “So I hope they really became more confident, they learned a little bit more from this experience and a little bit more about robotics too.”

Shawn has seen MVRT at various events in the area before her daughter entered high school, and has learned more about robotics through watching her daughter present.

“I’m just really impressed with the team and all they can do,” Shawn said. “I’m impressed with the amount of funding and support that’s here. It’s pretty amazing.”

In addition to external support from parents and sponsors, Pendyala highlights the support within the team and how it can lead to friendships.

“The robotics team is a super fun place,” Pendyala said. “Everyone loves each other. It’s a super good second family type of feel and it’s always really exciting. It’s a place where you can meet new people and meet new friends and these people are going to last you years so it’s really cool.”