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Appreciation for the Terrace community and STEM

By Teresa Bonilla, Hawkeye staff

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Davidson works on the 1778 Chill Out robot that they took to Worlds in Houston this year, while in the STEM lab

The crowd was on the edge of their seats; two teams had numbered tickets that were identical, right up to the last digit. It was this digit that determined who went to state and who didn’t. Both teams had done well. As the announcer read off the final digits, it was Ian Davidson’s FIRST LEGO League robotics team that stood up to cheer.

Without clubs, Robotics Club President Davidson said he wouldn’t have gotten the full high school experience. He even said he wished he had done more during his high school years. Joining clubs allowed him to learn new skills, as well as perfect existing ones. Joining clubs, for Davidson, was a way to follow his passions.

Some of Davidson’s most memorable high school experiences were the times he spent at competitions and working on robots that would eventually take Chill Out to worlds, which shows what can come from being active in clubs at Terrace.

Always having been interested in technology and all the different ways it can be used, Davidson joined FLL in seventh grade. FLL, or FIRST LEGO League, is a program that challenges kids to think like scientists and engineers. FLL is where Davidson would grow his interest in computer science and its applications. Having enjoyed computer science in his middle school years, Davidson decided to pursue his passion through robotics in high school.

Davidson started out in robotics as most freshmen do: Learning the ropes from upperclassmen.

“It’s crucial to help students learn and be inviting because you come in as freshmen and you basically know nothing,” Davidson said.

Having dedicated many of their hours to learning how to go from metal, wire and code to a functioning robot, many upperclassmen are eager to give back and teach newcomers how things work.

VEX Robotics Competition (VRC) is the “small robot” robotics club at Terrace. The club offers a year of learning experience, competition and bonding with peers. Robotics are a welcoming group, Davidson said.

“It doesn’t matter if you have experience or not. We’ll teach you, and you’ll learn a whole bunch of skills just on the first day,” Davidson said. He feels that even for people who aren’t into robots, there is an aspect of robotics that they could enjoy and learn from.

Though the lifestyle was exciting and gave Davidson the opportunity to learn a lot, the rest of his years in the robotics program became hectic. FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) is the second robotics club at Terrace; the robots are bigger, the challenges more difficult and everything has to be done in six weeks. Build season, as these six weeks are called, are what Davidson remembers as the high point of his high school career. During build season, Davidson had to balance his rigorous schedule of AP and computer science classes while helping to build a robot and in his last two years, running a team.

It doesn’t matter if you have experience or not. We’ll teach you, and you’ll learn a whole bunch of skills just on the first day.”

— Ian Davidson

These few weeks were a frustrating time; teachers didn’t understand it was build season and kept a steady homework load. Davidson found it difficult to be able to do everything he wanted, but for him and the robotics team, homework comes first.

“During build season, balancing homework is pretty difficult, but we have a saying that ‘school is always first,’” Davidson said. “Any day, any student [who] had too much homework to do, or something after school, [then] they couldn’t go to robotics. [School] was always a priority for robotics.” Robotics taught Davidson that essential life skill of time management which will greatly benefit him as he goes to college.

For college, Davidson chose to study computer science at the University of Washington, feeling it was a good academic fit. Being close to home will also give Davidson the opportunity to “really give back to the community” by coming back to Terrace as a mentor for the robotics teams in the following years.

The clubs or groups that Davidson has been a part of have really shaped his experience and he wants to continue with them in college because they have allowed for him to really grow as a person.

During high school, Davidson had a heavy focus on robotics, but he also joined theater. His sister had been in theater when she was in high school; Davidson says he wanted to follow her in this but he didn’t act. Instead he took the behind-the scenes-approach, working to keep the show running smoothly and make sure that if anything did go wrong, no one would know.

In both of these clubs Davidson found family through groups of kids coming together and working towards a common goal.

“Being [in a club] family allows students to be invited and accepted no matter what their strengths are.” That’s why Davidson enjoyed the clubs he was a part of, because the environment was welcoming and brought so many people together. Without the bonds that he formed in these clubs, Davidson said his high school experience would have been quite bland.

Davidson said these close bonds are not only seen in these clubs but also within the school.

“The community of the students and faculty coming together for a common goal is going to be something I miss about Mountlake Terrace,” Davidson said. He loved the environment, and saying goodbye to the families that he found will be hard for Davidson.

However, after four years of the same thing, Davidson said he is ready to move away from the blur of high school life and to the computer science filled life he hopes to lead.

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The student news site of Mountlake Terrace High School in Mountlake Terrace, Washington.
Appreciation for the Terrace community and STEM