Being from a low socioeconomic school didn’t stop the Willis Jr. High Robotics Team, the Firebots, from receiving a hard earned spot in the upcoming VEX Robotics World Competition. This event brings together the top robotics teams from around the world to celebrate their accomplishments and compete against one another.
“Through robotics, students learn engineering design process, programming, leadership, problem solving, and how to think flexibly,” says Jason Prichard, a Willis Jr. High Science Teacher and the Firebots Robotics Coach.
The Firebots spent the year designing, building, and programming robots to compete in tournaments against various Arizona teams and they’re the only middle school team from the Phoenix area attending the VEX Robotics World Competition.
The Firebots will face teams from around the world, including Bahrain, Singapore, China, Paraguay, and South Korea.
Willis Jr. High is a Title I school that currently addresses the needs of one of Chandler’s oldest and most economically depressed communities. While traditionally the most successful robotics teams are from more affluent parts of the valley, Willis Jr. High is the most decorated middle school robotics team for the past two seasons.
Jeff Delp, Principal of Willis Jr. High, knows that his students persevere through obstacles that other teams may not have to face.
“I’m proud of these kids,” says Delp, “Willis serves the lowest socioeconomic area of Chandler and because of that, many have the impression that our students have less potential than other schools. That’s not true. Our kids have proven in many ways that they are bright, resilient, creative, and possess unlimited potential.
This is second season in a row that The Firebots have been invited to attend the VEX Robotics World Competition. The event provides an amazing opportunity for students to learn, travel, and interact with diverse peers.
“I’m excited to go to Kentucky and meet teams from around the world,” says Cameron Braddock, President of the Willis Jr. High Robotics Club. The competition takes place April 20-23 in Louisville, Kentucky.