One day last March, my entire Robotics team and I arrived at school with our suitcases in hand, buzzing with excitement to travel to our first competition of the season. We squeezed ourselves into a tightly-packed bus for the three-hour journey to the Central Valley competition site. We had spent the past two months working tirelessly on designing a fully functional six-foot tall robot that was controlled by thousands of lines of programming code that allowed it to perform tasks efficiently and accurately. Often, we worked late into the night.
As the competition day drew closer, we realized that there was a possibility that the event would be cancelled because of COVID-19, so we checked the program’s website regularly. We were optimistic when we arrived at the hotel, reasoning that if we had made it that far, we could compete the next morning. We were wrong.
When we arrived at the competition site early the next morning, we were turned away at the door—the event had been cancelled at the last minute due to COVID-19. Dejected, we returned to our hotel, repacked, then boarded the bus for the three-hour drive back home. Despite our disappointment, we hoped the competition would be held later that spring. None of us could have possibly predicted that the entire world would shut down for months and now a year.
However, not all was lost. We continued to hold online meetings, reflecting on the season and discussing how we could improve team meetings and communication. Additionally, this year, we took videos of our robot throughout the season to show new team members the build process. Looking back, I’ve realized that the greatest lesson the pandemic has taught me is that no amount of preparation can guarantee that things will go the way you planned them, but there are always ways to improve and help others, no matter how difficult the situation is.
Submitted by Aimee Wang, Santa Clara County – Sunnyvale.