Tag Archives: First Robotics Competition

When robots compete

Team TecBot from Toluca, Mexico cheers their robot and robot operators.

Photos and story by Daniel Friedman

See the update at the end of this post about the winners of the competition.

Just like at high school basketball game on a Friday night, the crowds were out, the mascot’s antics amused the fans and rallied the team, and the competition was fierce. Unlike a basketball game, most of the players can turn pro.

Teams set up their robots at the beginning of the match. For the first 15 seconds the robots rely only on programming to shoot baskets.

It was the Arizona Regional FIRST Robotics Competition at Hamilton High School in Chandler, featuring teams from all over the Southwest as well as Canada, Mexico and Brazil.

Phoenix Country Day School team members watch their robot before they take control.

For the first 15 seconds the robots must operate autonomously on programming installed in their on-board computer to make as many baskets as they can. Then team members operate them remotely, picking up basketballs and shooting them into the four levels of hoops. To get more points, for the last 30 seconds of the two-minute contest, a red team robot and a blue team robot can share the white, middle ramp to win cooperation points. After this round teams choose another team to work with.

The Scottsdale Coronado High School team operates their robot.

There is a thick notebook of rules and regulations and several referees to keep track of the contest. One thing is certain, everyone was having a great time, fixing robots, reprogramming them, cheering for their team and hoping their robot survives the competition.

Sometimes robots don't survive the match and must be repaired before the next round.

The Notre Dame Prep team worked intently to repair their robot. Teams have six weeks to design and construct their robots before they are "bagged", sealed in a container, to prevent additional engineering. They can work on them in the pit area during competition but they can't continually refine their designs between regional competitions.

The Tempe High School team working on their machine. Laptops are used to write the software that is uploaded into the robots to run them during the first part of each match.

The pit area isn't all work. The Coconino High School team's spirit table, was decorated with their mascot, a squirrel, as well as memorabilia from past competitions and descriptions of their robot.

Team mascots were out in force.

As one would expect from a bunch of engineers, some mascots were more complex than others. This looks like a gila monster so it could be the General Motors/Arizona Western Colleges/jcpenney/ Yuma Union High School District mascot.

Kidron Gage from Coconino High School in Flagstaff volunteered to help out at the competition.

A blue robot waits for a red robot to balance on the white bridge, thus earning cooperation points.

UPDATE: The Carl Hayden High School Robotics team won the FIRST Arizona Regional Robotics competition for the second year in a row. Check out this video of the final match.

The Falcons finished with a match record of 10-1 in qualifying rounds, the second-best record among the 50-team field. They formed an alliance with teams from Toronto, Canada and Seton Catholic High School of Chandler.

The Carl Hayden team coached by Fredi Lajvardi, will go to the International FIRST Competition in St. Louis, April 25-28.

Carl Hayden team members are Joach Avitia, Elizabeth Perez, Isabel Martinez, Carlos Ruvio, Ulises Barazza, Martin Carranza, Sergio Corral, Daisy Fernandez, Dillon Dayea, Jesus Meraz, Maria Castro, Bianca Rodriguez, John Rangel, Iselea Martinez, Jorge Tay, Quenan Aaron Ruiz, Diserae Sanders, Dalton Dayea, Jesus Parra, Elizar Diaz, Cruz Garcia, Staphany Ramirez.

The Falcons named this year’s robot, “Angelica’s DREAM” to honor Angelica Hernandez, an alumna of the program who is now a mechanical engineer after graduating as the Outstanding Engineering Student at ASU last year.

April 12 Update:

From a April 10, 2012 Phoenix Union High School District news release:

The Betty H. Fairfax High School Robotics team was a member of the winning alliance in the FIRST Robotics Las Vegas Regional competition, April 5-7  in Las Vegas, Nevada, and has qualified for the International FIRST Robotics Championships in St. Louis, April 25-28.

It is the first time a Phoenix Union team has won a regional outside of Arizona, and only the second PUHSD school to win a regional (Carl Hayden has won Arizona Regionals in 2011 and 2012.)  The Las Vegas Regional included 42 teams from Nevada, California, Arizona, Utah, Wyoming and Mexico.

Betty Fairfax and Carl Hayden will represent PUHSD in the FIRST International Championships later this month at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.   This will be Fairfax’ second trip to the Internationals.  In its first-ever regional, four years ago, the team won the Rookie All Star Award and was invited to the International competition in Atlanta.


SRP funds new math, science programs

Salt River Project has donated a total of $124,000 to implement special programs that support math and science education in 29 Arizona schools.

Recipients of Learning Grants by SRP are schools representing elementary through high grades all across the state. Grant funding will enable robotics and engineering courses and clubs, water testing and analysis, ecological conservation programs, gardening projects and more.

Below are just a few examples of the incredible programs being developed at a few of the recipient schools.

Photo courtesy of St. Thomas Aquinas Elementary.

Avondale. St. Thomas Aquinas will implement a program in which students will learn about the role water has played in Arizona’s history, work with water-saving devices and show their parents and fellow students what they’ve learned at a Water Conservation Awareness/Science Night.

Photo courtesy of Verde Valley Montessori.

Cottonwood. Verde Valley Montessori will now have a garden space at the Cottonwood Community Garden. Through the Life Cycle of a Garden Project, students will test soil, chart plant growth, prepare a meal from their crops and donate surplus of the harvest to a local food bank.

Fountain Hills  

Fountain Hills High School engineering students will construct and equip a solar-powered, fully robotic and automated astronomy observatory on the roof of the school’s science building with live Internet video feed. The district’s teachers will have access to the system to use as a teaching tool in their own classroom, and astronomy classes at Fountain Hills High School will also use data and images from the observatory for their own research projects.


Gilbert Elementary will combine social studies and science to create a year-long theme that will incorporate the study of water throughout Arizona’s history. Students will use GPS devices for geocaching treasure hunts, study Theodore Roosevelt Dam, visit the Desert Botanical Garden and more, ending with a “Water Night” for parents and community members.


The Cesar Chavez High School robotics team students will compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge (beginning level robotics engineering), FIRST Lego League (intermediate level robotics with an emphasis on climate connections), and FIRST Robotics Competition (an expert level engineering competition involving improving the functionality of a robot system). They will also mentor elementary school students interested in learning about engineering.


Girls Leadership Academy of Arizona math and biology students will gather ecological and hydrological samples from the Nina Mason Pulliam Audubon Rio Salado restoration area in Phoenix. They will compare their data to 2008 data to determine changes in the habitat and hydrology, and will present their findings.


Mountainside Middle School sixth graders will lead a campaign for an energy-free day – “Lights Out Day” – to raise awareness about renewable technologies and saving energy. They will participate in several data analysis activities to determine the cost and energy savings for one day of no-energy use.


Desert Vista High School’s Engineering Academy students will participate in the Shell Eco-Marathon and design hydrogen-powered fuel cell vehicles. They will design and build three test vehicles with the goal of acquiring the highest miles per gallon, comparing different designs, constraints, and materials.

Find the complete list of recipients here. SRP annually gives more than $1.3 million in  contributions to educational programs and partnerships that provide teacher training, mentoring and hands-on learning. For more information, visit srpnet.com/education.