Team needs to raise $20K to travel to Houston competition April 17 to 20
The Nuts and Bolts, the Live Oak High School robotics team, started this year with just a cluttered classroom and a dream to attend a FIRST Robotics Competition. Now, they need to raise $20,000 to go on to compete at the world championship level.
At Seaside High School at the March 21-24 robotics competition, there were a total of 36 teams — including two from China. The Nuts and Bolts were surprised to find out they were the Rookie All-Star Team. Now they need to raise $20,000 to go to Houston for the FIRST Robotics World Championship April 17-20. FIRST stands for “For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.”
The theme of the FIRST competition is Destination: Deep Space, and the Nuts and Bolts team designed and built a robot that would potentially work on a planet much like NASA’s Mars Rover.
In the competition, their robot — unofficially called “The Better Child” — moved around a field 54 feet by 27 feet with other robots, gathering orange bouncing balls (called “cargo”) and placing them in a three-level target zone to score points. While doing so, a “red robot” tries to get in the way and keep them from getting the ball into the target area.
The team was surprised when it learned it had the opportunity to go to Houston for the World Championship. That put them into a financial challenge to raise $20,000. They launched a GoFundMe page and have so far raised $2,650.
The money goes not only for travel and hotel expenses for the team and teachers/mentors, but also to supply spare parts such as motors and transport the robot to the competition and back to Morgan Hill. The team has received a $5,000 donation from the Brin Wojcicki Foundation to pay for the registration costs.
“It’s really great to learn about new skills and develop your existing skills,” said Grace Taira, a sophomore in the club. “For example, I was really interested in programming, but I didn’t have much training, so I was able to get a lot more of that through robotic programming.”
The team is made up of Thomas Emerton, 17, a junior; J.J. Verhoven, 14, a freshman; Ryan Emerton, 15, freshman; Ethan Hanlon, 17, a junior; Michael Pham, 17, a senior; Grace Taira, 15, a sophomore; Manuel Aldana, 18, a senior; Breanna Phan, 16, a junior; Kobe Nguyen, 17 senior; and Mario Frausto, 16, a sophomore. Former IBM employee Annette Lane, Brent Taira, a Cisco engineer, and Jim Hanlon, a mechanical engineer, serve as mentors and Live Oak math teacher Kristopher Boursier helps the club members.