Freshman Orientation With a Twist, Robotics Style!

The orientation event crew driving a robot across campus

This year we decided to surprise the incoming freshman with a visit from our one and only B Team competition bot as they got a taste of the diverse nature of the Branham campus! We wanted to let them take a dip into Robotics and show off our club for the cool stuff we make. Especially before people get discouraged by the nerdy stigma and the idea that you have to be outstandingly smart’ to join Robotics. This was a cool way for us to show off the product of Robotics club and let more people get an idea of what we do before creating their own opinions as the school year starts. 

Freshmen grabbing candy from the robot as it drives up to greet them

The bot we ended up using as the face of our club at freshman orientation was the competition bot B Team built over the summer! Equipped with a flywheel and speedy intake system, it sure got eyes turning. But, this was all for show, we wouldn’t want any freshman casualties after all. Instead, we had a metal candy basket that we filled to the brim with an assortment of candies! We also had a pole attached to our bot for posters, but it didn’t work out that well and we ended up removing the whole configuration to let our bot run smoother. The assorted c-channel-made pole was definitely not enough to support an entire 24-inch poster. 

The B Team bot used at orientation with a basket filled with candy

Although it may have been awesome to cruise around campus, showing off what you can make in Robotics club and encouraging people to join, it was not a smooth sailing ride. From time constraints to motors breaking and our candy basket falling apart, it certainly wasn’t easy to take a competition bot and turn it into a cruising friendly face for our incoming freshman (and possible future members!). We had initially planned a whole other bot to use at orientation that students could interact with, but we were extremely short on time. Our cortex breaking at the last minute and causing an entire wipeout of our saved code didn’t help with the time constraints either. We had a team member frantically writing last-minute code just to have our bot drive around campus (no flywheel action or intake system included, unfortunately). Even worse, we had two motors break during the two days leading to the grand orientation event. With no real screwdrivers in our possession, it was a very tedious task and made our success an even closer call than precedent. Our intake system motors had to be sacrificed for the cause of a working drivetrain. We pursued though! Only one mid-way break was needed for us to fix our basket (which had been slowly losing screws) and refill our candy and we were smooth sailing (finally)! 

Robotics member fixing a loose screw from the bot in the parking lot

Overall, we would call it a success! Throughout the day we saw tons of people marvel at our bot and talk about how cool our metal accomplice was. Spinning our bot in little circles and showing a less intensive version of Robotics, where we turn a mass of metal into a beacon for new beginnings was really fun for us all! Everyone loved the candy and was fascinated by a little robot driving over to them with a personal candy delivery. It was a fantastic sight to see and a rewarding experience after a long summer of bot-building!

Senior Sail Away 2021-2022

Tears were shed at this year’s Robotics end-of-year party. We had sentimental senior awards, messy water balloon fights, and intense volleyball games! It was a great way to have one final goodbye before sending our seniors off to wherever takes them next, whether they be collegebound or other. We loved being able to celebrate our seniors and honor how much they have done for our club during their time here!

Courtesy of Alli Wang

All enjoyed games such as the childhood favorite, tag, and monkey-bar fun. You can see the irony there! Overall, it was a great way to have fun as a club and discover new talents, who knew nerds were so good at volleyball?

Not only was it a great time for members, but a great team-building and morale-lifting event where we were able to connect as a club outside of just our time working on bots. It’s always great to know our members outside of their professional reign and work with others outside of our own teams. After a season of hard work and constant bot adjustments, the club enjoyed the day of celebration and relaxation.

Courtesy of Alli Wang

At the end of our picnic, we had an awards ceremony for senior awards (seniors only) and funny awards (club-wide):

Vinidu Geevaratne, “Best Builder”
Tevin Hendess, “Best Driver”
Kevin Toren, “Most Screws Stripped”
Jin Cho, “Most Likely to Break a Gear”
Cindy Kim, “Most Likely to Sleep at Robotics”
Matt Fellenz, “Most Likely to Hoard Parts”

All pictures courtesy of Alli Wang.

STEAM Fair @ Guadalupe & Oster

We had a wonderful time today at the Union School District STEAM Fair! We had simultaneous showcases at Guadalupe & Oster Elementary school.

At Guadalupe, we were amazed by the young students’ abilities to drive our robots, play with Snapcircuits, and draw with Spirographs.

At Oster, we absolutely enjoyed teaching younger students to drive our various robots, including JV’s soccer robot, A Team’s competition robot, and Drawbots. In addition, we brought some fun toys for the children to play with, such as Tinker toys and a hydraulic arm.

At both sites, elementary schoolers learned to drive our competition robots and Drawbots. Parents were left curious of how to get their children to join robotics programs and delighted by our multiple activities.

Guadalupe Elementary School, Photo credit/Alli Wang
Oster Elementary School, Photo Credit/Barbara Schremp

Guadalupe Elementary School, James Gardner and Tevin Hendess
Oster Elementary School, Courtesy of Sara Dediu

Next stop: Bagby Elementary School on May 6

CUHSD Hackathon 2022

Our 3rd annual hackathon was a major success full of coding and quackery!

We had 90 participants and 27 teams with attendees from every school in the district. The winning team, Branham’s Matt Fellenz and Kevin Toren, created an app to turn handwriting into Google documents along with scraping from Google Drive. Six other Branham students were in the top 5 teams: Sherry, Eric, Cooper, Evelyn, Nathan, Tevin, Justin, Brad.

The event occurred on Sunday march 20th from 9am – 9pm. Bionic Bruin alumnus and current Branham students taught coding workshops to participants. Thanks to Figma and PTSA we were able to provide both lunch and dinner to all attendees and volunteers. We also gave rubber ducks to all participants so they could rubber ducky debug. We were delighted by the creativity and ingenuity of the entries.

Thank you to all those who participated or helped to make our event happen in any capacity. We hope to see you next year!

Courtesy of Bear Witness

VEX @ Ceres High School!

We had a blast at Ceres High School! Our B team won first place during the qualification round , debuting their new hydraulic-powered 4 bar arm. A and B team allied with one another, finishing off at 8th place during the quarterfinals. A, B, and X team showed wonderful teamwork, talent, and had amazing robots. We are so proud of our Varsity members.

VEX Bellarmine

We had a wonderful time at the Bellarmine in November! Our B team won the Judge’s award and our A team marvelled in 3 out of 6 rounds.

We can’t wait to compete again on February 12 at Ceres High School.

Photo credit: Vinidu Geevaratne

Winter Wishes

The Winter Wishes is an annual Branham tradition in which leadership grants wishes requested by students throughout the winter months. Throughout the weeks running up until finals small wishes are granted, such as having cookies or donuts delivered to class, but the larger wishes are saved for the Winter Wishes rally.

This year, students wished for the recognition of our club advisors, Mrs. Schremp and Mr. Turner, due to the time and effort that they contribute to our club. At the rally they were recognised with a video put together by the club and leadership, along with flowers and a gift card.

The ceremony ended with leadership granting a $600 cheque to the Bionic Bruins in order to help cover club expenses.

To learn more about Winter Wishes, check out the NBC Bay Area article about the event.

Bellarmine Vex Tourney

A, B, X, and G teams participated in a competition hosted at Bellarmine College Preparatory on November 17th. All teams are now applying what they learned from this competition in order to improve and update their robot in preparation for the next competition.

Club Rush

To drive club sign ups, Branham High School hosts “Club Rush” where all the clubs of the school advertise themselves and sell food.

Bionic Bruins continued their tradition of selling nachos, and garnered almost 40 sign ups.