Team Talon represents Scottsdale at robotics world-competition

Team Talon is, from left is Alyx T., Emily H., Aiden W., Colby G., Genevieve .P, and Karsen D. (special to the Independent)

Team Talon is, from left is Alyx T., Emily H., Aiden W., Colby G., Genevieve .P, and Karsen D. (special to the Independent)

The Hohokam Traditional School robotics team, Team Talon, competed in the VEX World Competition April 23-24. The team came in 108th out of 145 teams from around the world, in their first competition of this caliber.

The robotics program was started in 2011 with two teams doing Lego Robotics. Mike Peabody, the current head coach of the teams, was eventually asked to take over the team because of his background in construction and design. He helped switch the teams over to the VEX program.

Last year, as the programs grew to 16 children, Team Talon was added. In the 2016-17 school year, another team will be added to the program, bringing the total to four teams.

Peabody explained that the children build the robots from scratch, following instructions and then modify to their liking, adding cranes, scoops and claws.

After coming in first place at the state level VEX IQ competition in March (where another Hohokam team also placed second), the team began to fundraise for the Worlds in Kentucky. They received grants, donations and gifts from companies and organizations such as BOSH, McDowell Village and the MIT Enterprise Forum. In totally they raised $14,000 for their trip.

In Kentucky, after a day of touring, the team took to three days of competition against teams from all around the world, such as China, Mexico, Canada and Ethiopia, including some other United States teams.

“They’re kids. In between, they would start to play. They made some really good friends, from all around the world,” Peabody said.

In the future, Peabody would like to see the VEX and REC implemented into the school curriculum.

Team Talon with their coaches, Andrew Jazwa on left, and Mike Peabody on right. (special to the Independent)

Team Talon with their coaches, Andrew Jazwa on left, and Mike Peabody on right. (special to the Independent)

“I want to teach kids as much as I can to help them out in the future, I want to make sure they’re prepared for what they have to do in the future,” Peabody said.

Peabody is also working on getting a camp at Saguaro for Scottsdale children.

As a Title One school, Hohokam has a large population — 70 percent, according to Peabody — of it’s students considered “at risk” because of the socioeconomic status of their families. Peabody wants to change that with this program and help these children prove they are more than that.

“I saw what was happening to and around my own kids, and I didn’t like it. So I want to change that,” Peabody said.

He also is brainstorming working with Arizona State University to find student teachers, with some engineering experience to come and teach and help at the school.

Editor's Note: Ms. Fowler is a student journalist at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

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