Palo Verde Magnet High School's Optimal Robotics team will head to the 2017 FIRST Robotics Competition in Houston next week as Western Regional Champions and winners of a NASA award. The team came away with the win at the western regional at Grand Canyon University in Phoenix on Saturday.
Students worked for six weeks to build their robot, putting in at least 120 hours each after school, on weekends and over spring break. The students worked on the design, fabrication of each piece, coding and programming to bring their robot to life. This year's theme is Steamworks, which requires students to prepare for a long-distance airship race in the style of steampunk (see this video for more information: https://www.firstinspires.org/node/3651).
"I'm so very proud of our team," said Ann Marie Condes, an engineering teacher at Palo Verde. "They spent a lot of time and hard work, and it came through at the regional tournament. Because of their outstanding community involvement, they won the Engineering Inspiration Award."
The Engineering Inspiration Award includes a $5,000 scholarship from NASA, which pays the entry fee to the world competition. Students must still fundraise or solicit tax credit donations for travel expenses.
"This is an amazing achievement for the Palo Verde community and all of Tucson Unified School District and a testament to the excellence of CTE programs," said Dr. Gabriel Trujillo, Superintendent of Tucson Unified. "It's another reason why CTE needs to flourish across TUSD. This is also a testament to the effectiveness of an amazing teacher, Ms. Condes, and what high expectations and relationships will do to drive students to achieve."
FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) creates programs that motivate young people to pursue education and career opportunities in science, technology, engineering, and math. Palo Verde Magnet High School's theme is STEAM, which includes the Arts.