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Graduates Giving Back

While there were no large family gatherings, parties with friends or dinners out, we celebrate because Rosie just graduated from UC Merced this month with a degree in Computer Science and Engineering!

Rosie has been part of the BCM family for many years, but Covid created a new opportunity for her to give back. Rosie was preparing to finish up her final semester at UC Merced when she heard that all of her classes were going online. She decided to move back home to the Bay Area to be near family, and that’s when she got a call asking if she might be interested in a part time job at BCM. Rosie said yes and jumped into the world of robotics and STEM offerings at BCM.

Since September, Rosie has been coordinating three STEM offerings at BCM: Lego Robotics for elementary and middle school students, the high school FRC team (First Robotics Competition) and Innoverge, a hands-on STEM program for elementary students. As coordinator, Rosie makes sure that everything runs smoothly. This involves communicating with both parents and coaches, monitoring Covid protocols, making sure registration forms are complete, gathering supplies, organizing zoom meetings and more.

Rosie’s first introduction to technology and coding came through BCM, where she competed in the Technovation Challenge as a freshman in high school as part of the EPA Chica Squad. She never imagined she would come back and be part of introducing the same topics to BCM’s current students. “It’s been cool to see everything come full circle,” says Rosie. She’s been impressed with how independent, knowledgeable and invested BCM’s current high school students are. This fall, each student was supplied with minimal robot parts: wheels, a motor and wire. With the virtual support of their volunteer coaches, they each built a robot to compete in a circuit and drag race competition. One used a shoe box, another a coffee cup. “I was impressed with their creativity and knowledge of robotics; they all had a functioning robot for the showcase.”

Working with Innoverge, an interactive workshop that introduces elementary students to STEM topics, has also been a highlight for Rosie. She enjoys helping students in-person as their virtual instructor guides the weekly activities. Many of the students were shy and unsure at the beginning, but once they opened up, they were eager to learn each week. One student exclaimed at the end of a session, “What’s next, what’s next?! I’ll be sure to be here next week!” She has loved seeing the students come up with ideas and suggestions, whether studying mechanical engineering to design and build a roller coaster or learning computer science to code a greeting card. Each week she gets to experience their joy and excitement in person as they see their projects come to life.

God has been at work in Lego Robotics through the work of a dedicated team of volunteer coaches. “I am amazed at the commitment of the coaches; it’s a big commitment and there are so many great coaches working one-on-one with the students.” At the start of the season, everything was virtual and one student was especially frustrated and kept getting stuck while working on his robot. He and his coach decided to meet outdoors at BCM, and Rosie was amazed to see the frustration transition to excitement as the student received the support he needed to build and program his robot. The student and coach developed a significant relationship, the student even inviting the coach to his home as an expression of how meaningful their relationship had become. Given the lack of in-person interaction during Covid, this coach’s investment was both technically and relationally impactful.

“I’ve seen God at work through the coaches and want to say a big thank you to all of the coaches – without them these programs wouldn’t happen.” Rosie is grateful to be part of providing in-person programming during a time when most students are at attending school virtually. She also loves helping spark a joy for science and looks forward to 2021 and being part of more moments of creativity, learning and excitement.

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