If you are interested in joining the team, go to the 'Steps for joining the robotics team' page and follow the instructions. Because of growing interest in being part of the team, membership is limited to current MVHS students.
Robotics is much more like a sports team or an activity like Marching Band than a typical school club. As such, it requires a commitment to showing up in order to have a successful experience on the team. Students who make the commitment learn skills that will help them in college and beyond. However, since it is not a class, students need self motivation to attend and get the most out of the experience.
The robotics team works best for those who show up often, engage, and ask questions. Those that occasionally show up have a hard time engaging and may feel like the time they do spend with the team is not well spent. There is usually more mentor support for students who are committed to learning and showing up. Being on the team works even better for those that spend lots of time on robotics outside of the meeting times.
The meeting times and locations are available at the "Calendar" link at the top of this page. When there is a lot to do, we call extra meetings. Meeting times are also sent out on the team elist. If you are interested in the team and maybe checking out a meeting, you can join the team elist. It is a list that is managed by MVHS.
Other than when the team attends competitions, the team occaisionally goes to NASA or Bellarmine College Prep to practice running the robot. Our team does not have a full playing field at MVHS but are fortunate to be able to have access to practice fields in the area.
NASA drive practices
Bellarmine drive practices
As a new member, it can be hard to figure out something to do. Because new members don't have any training it can seem hard to participate. But, if you do your best to attend the weekly meetings and are constantly asking for something to do (if you sit there waiting for something to do, you may or may not get to do anything; if you proactively ask around, then you will certainly be able to find things to do) and attending any training meetings which are organized, you will be able to find things to do and have a great time on the team. Every year we have new members go from knowing nothing to being key contributors by the end of the season. All of them are persistent and show up to most of the meetings.
Yes, we build a robot, but there is so much more to having a successful robotics team. We want everyone to learn and work on things that they are interested in and enjoy. There are other things that need to be done too so think about other talents and interests that you have that can help the team. Some other areas with opportunities to contribute are:
Here is a summary of important dates for new members to know about up front. The year is divided into two parts: the season and the off-season. The season runs from January to the middle of April. The off-season is the rest of the year.
Actual current season dates (as they become known) can be found here.
Dr. Woodie Flowers, FIRST National Advisor and Pappalardo Professor Emeritus of Mechanical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, coined the term “Gracious Professionalism®”. Gracious Professionalism is part of the ethos of FIRST. It's a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. With Gracious Professionalism, fierce competition and mutual gain are not separate notions. Gracious professionals learn and compete like crazy, but treat one another with respect and kindness in the process. They avoid treating anyone like losers. No chest thumping tough talk, but no sticky-sweet platitudes either. Knowledge, competition, and empathy are comfortably blended. In the long run, Gracious Professionalism is part of pursuing a meaningful life. One can add to society and enjoy the satisfaction of knowing one has acted with integrity and sensitivity.
Gracious Professionalism is an important concept in FIRST. This means we help other teams before and at competitions and then during the competition, compete like crazy. As an individual, you should always act with integrity at all time. When you are wearing a team t-shirt or otherwise representing the Spartan Robotics team you should always be helpful, gracious, and never speak ill of another team.
There are no entry fees to be on the team. 971 has generous sponsors who help fund the team. However, we do ask members to pay for their own travel to competitions. Students share rooms to keep costs low and the competitions in California tend to cost around $120 with food. When the team travels to the Championship, costs are higher and can be from $700 to $900 depending on airfare. Traveling to team events is a great experience and really helps the team get to know each other better. Students do need to miss school for some of the competitions and active members will be excused from class. We offer scholarships to help with travel for students who cannot attend otherwise.
For traveling to the Championship in Houston, Texas, parents can try to use frequent flier miles but students have to be going on a flight with an approved supervisor or their parents - no exceptions. We only go to the Championship if we qualify at a regional so if we qualify, we will start purchasing tickets as soon as possible. Please start thinking about whether you would likely go before the regional competitions.
T-shirts and other swag - Every active member and mentor receives a free t-shirt every year from the team. This includes new members in the fall. Wyn Schuh hands out these t-shirts and you need to have completed the requirements and she needs to know who you are and that you are showing up. Feel free to introduce yourself.
We encourage all students and families to attend the competitions. There is always a lot to do and see at them. The competitions are great opportunities to learn a lot about robotics quickly. I highly encourage all new members to attend at least some of the Chezy Champs off season competition later this month. It will help you understand what we are working toward in a season. We will be traveling to Madera over the Veterans’ Day weekend and that is a lot of fun too.
For more information on how to help, you can go to our page on Volunteering to Help.
There are many opportunities for new students to learn and get involved on the team.
We started having team potlucks because we found that parents didn't really know what their students were doing on the robotics team. They also didn't have opportunities to meet other students and families associated with the team. Parents who meet other parents and see what the team does are more excited about the program and find that they can do lots of things to help out on the team.
We encourage all parents to join us and meet other parents and students on the team. Particularly important is the potluck that we have on Kickoff day in January. Families can come and see the new game and also see some of the things that the team is working on.
The way we organize potlucks is to just bring whatever you want with enough to share. We have plates, cups and cutlery. It always seems to work out. If you don't have time to cook something, you can bring bread or drinks or dessert or something. We've never gone hungry.