Pam Kirby, Charros offer financial support for SUSD robotics teams

Jordan Palen, Taylor Bras and Zack Okun work on Desert Mountain’s robot. (Photo by Arianna Grainey)

When your school qualifies for a prestigious, international robotics tournament and has just 10 days to come up with at least $20,000 to send your team, it’s nice to have friends.

The Scottsdale Charros and Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board member Pam Kirby are lending their financial support so that robotics teams from Chaparral, Desert Mountain and Saguaro high schools can ship their robots, tools and teams to the FIRST Championship next week in Houston.

Both Saguaro and Chaparral qualified last weekend at the Arizona West Regional tournament in Phoenix; Desert Mountain qualified at the Arizona North Regional tournament in Flagstaff last month, according to a press release.

Both the Charros and Ms. Kirby have committed $5,000 each to the three teams, a release states.

“The Scottsdale Charros are proud to support all of the SUSD students involved in robotics,” Charros Executive Director Dennis Robbins said in a prepared statement.

“We are very excited about Chaparral, Desert Mountain and Saguaro going to Worlds. We congratulate them on their success, and wish them well in Houston.”

Ms. Kirby noted SUSD has established itself as a public education robotics leader in Arizona.

“Sending three, separate, high school teams to Worlds in Houston is a testament to the hard work of our teachers and students. I could not be more proud,” Ms. Kirby said in a prepared statement.

Saguaro High School Principal Ann Achtziger said she is thrilled to be able to send the Sabercats to the world competition for the fourth time in the past seven years.

“We are so grateful to be part of a community that provides and helps us sustain these kinds of life-changing, learning opportunities for our students,” Ms. Achtziger said in a prepared statement.

Even with the Charros’ and Ms. Kirby’s support, the teams need additional support. The Charros have made it for the community to make tax-deductible donations to the teams through their website.

There, people can choose the school team to which they wish to direct your donation from the dropdown box under “I would like my donation to go to…” Fill out your information and hit “Submit.”

The Charros will pick up credit card fees and administrative costs that may be associated with making an online donation, a release states.

High school teams from around the world have been working since January to design, build, program, test and operate robots that can perform prescribed tasks.

The premise behind this year’s FIRST Robotics Power Up competitions has been that the robots are trapped in a video game and must defeat the game’s boss by moving power cubes (covered milk crates), lifting them either to a five-foot-high seesaw platform or stacking them on a floor scale, then suspending themselves by a cable from the seesaw structure.

More than 400 teams from around the world will take part in the April 18-21 Houston FIRST competition, including teams from North, Central and South America, the Middle East, India, China and Australia. FIRST also offers college scholarships, from which past SUSD robotics students have benefited.

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