Category Archives: Jankster Events

October Projects


It’s nearing that time of the year when new Janksters members choose their committees! To help them decide, our October Project this year divided the team into 6 different groups, including both rookies and veterans.

They were challenged by only having three weeks to build a machine that shot either a tennis ball, ping-pong ball, or hacky sack from a table to anywhere from four to eight feet away. The teams were given freedom with their projects, exposing themselves to and using various mechanisms, as well as power sources.

The Janksters were off to a good start by collectively brainstorming and analyzing the possible benefits and weaknesses of their ideas. Teams would then move on to prototyping, which would help them fully visualize their plans and fix any problems that they encountered along the way. These prototypes ended up becoming some groups’ final machines due to time constraints, an excellent reminder for the upcoming Build Season, but others built another shooter that amalgamated their previous experiences.

The final portion of the October Projects was an oral presentation in front of all Jankster members. In this, each group discussed their team and project name, the brainstorming and prototyping procedure, the build process, details about the mechanisms involved, challenges they faced, things that they learned, and finally, changes they would make if they were to do the project again.

Each team worked superbly with many unique approaches toward their problems. The October Project participants believe it was a very successful project that helped rookies through enforcing as well as teaching them new skills, solidifying their decision of which committee/s they would like to be in, and bonding them further with veterans. Through the October Project, students who had forgotten about the Build Season process or had never been through the stimulating six weeks before, were able to prepare both mentally and physically for the exciting game that is to come.






Interested in hearing more about this event from the point of view of our own members? Take a look at our Janky POV’s!

October Projects

The October project was a great way for me to get to know the rookies and to prepare my mind for build season. I was amazed to see the different projectors that each group came up with even when give the same goal. After interacting with the rookies and girls from other committees, I am definitely more excited to see how everyone’s unique and creative thoughts will be applied to this years game. This project benefited me as it was a tiny refresher of the process of build season.

Kimberly Zhang

Class of 2017

It’s not easy having a million ideas in your head and only one month to take one idea, build it, and make it work. When the team was told that we had three weeks to brainstorm and build something that could shoot a specific ball for a certain number of feet away, I was so excited. I was paired up with two other rookies and two veterans to shoot a ping-pong ball at least 4 feet away, and I immediately thought the idea of a catapult. Our prototype worked pretty well, so the veterans in the group suggested that we should rebuild it out of metal and maybe use a piston. Building the final was quite stressful since we almost ran out of time in learning about angle brackets to connect extrusions. Unfortunately our final presentation and run didn’t work as well as we hoped since the piston was a new concept; however, I’m still glad that I got to work on this project, because I made tons of great memories and friends with the other veterans and rookies. After October, I’m really pumped to learn and work more in the Mechanical Committee. I never would have guessed that robotics would be the thing for me, but now I’m sure.

Shreya Basireddy

Class of 2019

I had an amazing time working on the October projects. I’m new to the team and this was my first time. It really helped me adjust to being on the team. At first I was embarrassed that I didn’t understand what the veterans were actually talking about, but after working with them I was able to ask for help understanding things when I needed to. I realized later how important brainstorming is, because the machine would not have worked out as well without all of the planning. When we started prototyping, there were also challenges, such as constant testing, retesting, reforming, and at one point, we changed the method of how we were going to shoot the ball altogether. I feel this really prepared me for build season, because I’ve heard its really stressful and that week is so crucial because thats when most of the work is done.In the end our project turned out so well, and we even finished early.

Naomi Dasari

Class of 2018

Spotlight Week


The Janksters had a great Spotlight Week this year at Notre Dame High School where, they highlighted the various aspects of Robotics. We threw different, fun events each day of the week before CalGames in order to get students excited about the upcoming competition and Grace’s progress.

On Monday, we set up in our school’s very own Pardini park to drive VEX robots and drew raffle prizes for Notre Dame’s Magazine Drive. The students and even teachers came to drive the robots and learn more about them. 

Tuesday was the day that the Janksters took the previous activity a step up by allowing others to drive the 2015 robot, Grace. This was a unique opportunity, since it would be perhaps the last time the school’s students would see Grace up close. 

On Thursday, we had a fun programming activity, in which students gathered around to watch teachers decorate cookies by following instructions/code given to them. Since the instructions were so vague, the teachers could put their own spin on it, allowing an hilarious lesson about the importance of being specific while programming our robots. 

Finally, Friday arrived! A fun pep rally was planned to end our spotlight week on exciting terms in which they were thrilled for the upcoming CalGames. The Janksters, followed by other energetic students in the school, danced along to music typically in our competitions such as Cupid Shuffle and Cha-cha slide. This event allowed us to give a short preview of the excitement in CalGames and talk to the students, educating them more about the competition. 

All in all, we had a blast during Spotlight Week and cannot wait till next year!

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Boot Camp

Credits to Alvin
By Tiffany Ta, Class of 2017
From August 10-13, the Janksters held their third annual Boot Camp, during which they helped run various workshops and activities to teach incoming freshman, sophomores, and juniors about all of the aspects of robotics, from build season to the team cultures.
From the moment they  stepped in, the new campers were welcomed by the Janksters, helping warm them up with many icebreakers, such Never Have I Ever and even card games. Combined with lunches together and other fun activities, it was no surprise that the campers felt quite at home.
On the first two days, campers were divided into three groups and participated in a workshop rotation, in which each group would shift between workshops teaching marketing, tool use, Arduino, and CAD. From these workshops, the campers learned more about each aspect of what the various committees work on and discovered what interests they had.
The third and fourth days, however, were quite different. In the mornings, the campers would be split into two groups , attending either a workshop on driving, which explained the build season further in detail and allowed the campers to interact with the robot, or Rube Goldberg, where campers would design machines to release a balloon. In the afternoon, the campers could pick workshops that they enjoyed during the first two days and do even more activities in their workshop of choice.
The Janksters were more than happy to see these campers grow and develop their knowledge about robotics, and most of them confirmed that they were planning to join the team as future Janksters!


Janky POVS:

Boot Camp was a blast! This was my second year helping facilitate the workshops and activities, and I think the overall energy we got from the campers was great. My favorite part was when we went Downtown for lunch on Wednesday, because I was able to see who I’d get along with since they liked the same food as me (kidding), and we were able to relax and have some great conversations while eating on the grass in San Jose State. Most of the students who attended boot camp seemed to have a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see most of them during our robotics meetings this following year.

— Yashna Bansal

Class of 2017

Boot Camp is officially 3 years old! This year, it was full of energetic campers who were engaged and excited to learn. I look forward to seeing some of them come join this season! I got the opportunity to teach Arduino for the second year. During one of the free-choice sessions, I had one of the most rewarding experiences. There was a girl who struggled with understanding the logic behind code I was teaching her. After half an hour of trying countless methods and writing up plenty of notes, we finally figured it out together. Code and the logic behind is hard to grasp for those not familiar with it. To be able to teach it and know she understood was an amazing feeling!

— Minh-Chau Doan

Class of 2017



10 Year Anniversary


By Gillian McGinnis, Class of 2018

On Saturday, August 8, Team 1967 The Janksters celebrated their 10 year anniversary at Notre Dame High School with a gathering of alumnae, mentors, and memorabilia from past years. Originally formed in 2006, our school’s robotics team has worked hard to  not only use fun and creative ideas to build robots, but also to build the confidence of girls interested in STEAM.

The team set up ten tables display our accomplishments and stories for their corresponding year. This included photos, newspaper articles, pieces of the robots, display boards, and more to represent the “evolution” of the Janksters, starting simply as a small team of 7 members in 2006 with the creation of a logo in 2008, and now we are a size of over forty girls in 2015.

As the Learning Commons filled with people, it also filled with smiles, laughter, and anecdotes of their interactions on or with the team. Multiple alums told their stories of the origins of team traditions (such as how to name the robot), as well as silly interactions that happened during build season.

All in all, it was a wonderful commemoration that reminded the Janksters of our roots as a team and brought us back together to celebrate all of our hard work and accomplishments.

Central Valley Regional

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Written by Minh-Chau Doan (Class of 2017)

The Janksters had an amazing and productive weekend at Central Valley Regional this year.

On March 7th and 8th, the Janksters participated in the Central Valley Regional at Madera.However, some girls were in the city as early as March 5th, working hard to ensure that our first competition in the 2015 season would be a success.

On Thursday March 5th, 16 girls headed towards Madera right after school. We unpacked the robot and headed out for dinner at an In ‘N Out in walking distance from our hotel, La Quinta. After feasting on delicious milkshakes, burgers, and fries, some chose to do team bonding by diving headfirst into the cold swimming pool. The temperature definitely refreshed us for the next day.

While Friday March 6th was a preparation day, the Janksters got a lot done. From 8:30 in the morning to 7:00 at night, we made changes to our robot Grace. By the end of the day, we had shaved off approximately 5 pounds off her, a miraculous feat considering the fact that we didn’t removed any mechanisms from the build season. The programming committee also had time to play with the code for autonomous mode (the first fifteen seconds of a match where robots ran on pre-programmed code). We fit in one practice match and the drive team performed spectacularly. They had gotten very little practice and Grace had lost connection but they persisted and our human player threw litter for points instead.

Such flexibility was shown throughout the two days of competition. When one of the pulleys broke, the team pushed on and went for coopertition points instead. Whenever there was a lull for our human player, she would make use of the time by throwing the litter for points. During autonomous mode, Grace moved into the auto zone (thus qualifying for points) every match. Grace also arrived at all of her matches, no matter her condition. The team’s consistent performance was shown when towards the end of Saturday, we were able to reliable make one stack of four totes each match.

At Madera, the Janksters were recognized for our safety. Our safety captain, Gillian was Safety Star of the Day, despite this being her first year on the team. We manned the safety glasses tables throughout the entire competition. Gillian drew up a safety pit map that showed all the teams and what safety equipments they had. We also put up safety posters all throughout the competition.

From Central Valley Regional, we were able to learn a lot about strategy. We also saw the strengths and weaknesses of the team and the robot.

We are now planning and working on improvements for Silicon Valley Regional!

Friday was the first actual day of competition where the team made a lot of changes and improvements to Grace.  We were able to finish building our sub-system mechanisms, which include the reorientation, singulation, forklift, and the boxlift. Drive team was even able to briefly test out all of Grace’s functions before the actual matches started. But Friday wasn’t all work and no play.  A lot of our members had a lot of fun pit scouting the other teams and getting information about their robots. The safety glasses table was especially fun for the team because it gave everyone a chance to unwind and relax from the busy competition.  We ended our busy day with a dinner at Sweet Tomatoes, where everyone especially enjoyed the unlimited ice cream sundaes available at our liking.

– Paulina Robles
Class of 2017

The first few matches on Saturday went perfectly, and most of the pit crew’s work was tidying up the pit. However, at lunchtime, one of Grace’s ropes snapped during drive practice, and we had approximately 15 minutes to replace it before the next match. I was put in charge of that, and we replaced the rope in time. It was stressful to be working with a clock ticking, but at the same time, it was an exhilarating experience that helped me learn a lot about the weak points on the robot and how to counteract them. Unfortunately, all of the ropes decided that they had had enough, and they snapped one by one. Even though we played a match with our main mechanism inoperable because we had not had enough time to fix broken part, the drive team was still able to score points by pulling totes from the center field. At the end of the day, we were ranked 33rd. To me, our ranking didn’t matter much because we were able to get a robot onto the field that could play the game in some way for every match.

– Julia Hunt

Class of 2018

Sunday was the last day of our competition and while we may not have won we had gained a lot. From the start we knew we were at a disadvantage because our team simply did not have the resources that other teams had. However, what we did have was spirit and determination. Even though we consisted of a team where most of its members had two or less years of experience, we still managed to build a robot that functioned. The robot made it out to every match and could participate in every match. To top that off we had enormous support for the drive team. Both of these showed that we are a team that is capable and still growing. I can’t wait for the next competition so that we can show off our Jankster spirit!

– Natasha Palamuttam

Class of 2015

Food and Fun

Phew. Finally done with Build Season, though there’s still a lot of work left to do. These last 6 weeks have been really tiring and busy, with students working long hours to finish building our robot. But I think it was all worth it when we got most of our robot working. I’m pretty sure most of us thought that we wouldn’t have a working robot, no matter how hard we pushed ourselves, so it was awesome to see everything slowly coming together and then finally working.

– Yashna Bansal

Class of 2017

Food and Fun? In only one entry? This should be two different entries. Where do I even start? Food is great with the Janksters. Mentors and parents bring in the best food. We’ve gotten milk tea and CREAM for the whole team. We get bagels in the mornings sometimes and don’t get me started on the snicker-doodles one of the moms bring in. I don’t know what I would do without all of the great food that comes in from the parents. Building and thinking is hard when you’re running on an empty stomach after all. But we don’t just build and think. We have fun too. Now that build season’s over we’ll be having our annual trip to Ben and Jerry’s to name the robot. I love staying late at robotics because even though I come home with no motive or time to do homework, it’s just so much fun. Not many people stay late so you get to bond a whole lot more and just have a great time while working hard. Spending so much time with the girls means that everyone knows each other a whole lot better, be it through belting songs while building or struggling through CAD while telling corny pick-up lines. (Or maybe that’s just for mechanical and electronics.)

– Minh-Chau Doan

Class of 2017

Robot Reveal Night


Robot reveal night is the day the team is able to show off what we worked on during the 6 weeks of build season. Because I am the Electronics Committee Lead, I explained to the audience what my committee members did during the 6 weeks. It was the first time I talked in front of a huge audience and it was very nerve wracking. This opportunity helped me get over my fear of public speaking.

The most memorable moment that night was seeing the robot stack totes for the first time. Because was not working on the robot the last couple of days, I had not seen the new mechanisms that had been added onto the robot. I was surprised at how well our robot could stack the totes and am so excited for the regional!

Rikako Shimizu
Class of 2017

Robot Reveal Night

Team Photo 2015

This Robot Reveal Night was a blast for the Janksters, who were able to show their hard work to family, friends, teachers, and sponsors.

The night started out with a presentation, in which each committee discussed their goals and highlights of build season, and we highlighted our 10-year anniversary through talking about previous competitions. We also went over our process of brainstorming, designing, and building, which allows us to build our robots with a strategy and well-thought out prototype.

Then, it was finally time for the big reveal! The robot was driven past the audience before one of the Janksters explained the lifting of the tote box, earning plenty of “Ooh”s and “Ah”s.

The audience was then allowed to roam freely to take a snack, observe the stands of different committees set up in the back, or even closely take a look at the robot and ask questions to some of the Janksters.

Overall, it was a very successful night, and the Janksters are excited to return to work and complete as much as possible before Stop Build!

Robot reveal night is the day the team is able to show off what we worked on during the 6 weeks of build season. Because I am the Electronics Committee Lead, I explained to the audience what my committee members did during the 6 weeks. It was the first time I talked in front of a huge audience and it was very nerve wracking. This opportunity helped me get over my fear of public speaking.

The most memorable moment that night was seeing the robot stack totes for the first time. Because I worked away from the robot the last couple of days, I had not seen the new mechanisms that had been added onto the robot. I was surprised at how well our robot could stack the totes and made me very excited for the regional!

– Rikako Shimizu

Class of 2017

Toys for Tots


Recently, many Janksters went to the Toys for Tots event on December 21 to help out with giving out toys to families. I worked as a table organizer but served as a toy runner when the other members took a break. I was surprised by the sea of toys in the area that had and had not been sorted. I also never knew that figuring out the proper places for toys required so much thinking until after participating in this event. It was very fun and exhilarating to rush around trying to find the toys the families wanted while I was a toy runner. Even though I went home with dusty hands from the toys and sore feet from rushing around, I was happy to have contributed to such a good cause. Overall, I think the event was a success, and I will definitely volunteer at this event next year!

Jasmine Lee
Class of 2018

This past Sunday, a couple of us Janksters went to the Santa Clara Fairgrounds to participate in Toys for Tots. Let me say this, I have never seen so many gifts or happy kids in my life before. Take Target times 3 and ringing ears of joy, that is what this experience felt like. Some of us were choosing gifts in the background and the rest  of us were delivering gifts on the other side of the curtain. I think it’s safe to say that for the people behind the curtain, we loved hearing the kids squeal with joy. For the people handing the gifts, I bet they loved watching kids’ faces stretch as they smile. I definitely look forward to doing this again. It only makes the holidays happier.

Anisha Patel
Class of 2016

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