Archive for the ‘a3. Show Page – Bottom Featured’ Category

2478: Prototyping

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by xmlrpc

FRC, FIRST Robotics Competition was new for students attending Westwood High School in Mesa, AZ.  The first year of competition for the Westwood Robotics Team was one to be celebrated. Not only did they take on a new challenge, they turned an out of classroom activity into a laboratory for lifelong learning. They turned their learning into success.  And their success went farther than winning the prize. They developed a passion for science, technology, engineering and math. They learned what it means to collaborate, problem solve and persist.  Along the way team 2478 became a family – a family of scientists. 

Most students can name their favorite athlete or movie star, but how many can name their favorite scientist?  Students on the Westwood Robotics team can. As one student puts it, “The goal of the competition is to change the culture. The purpose is to make science, technology, engineering and math a competition – a sport.”

I think. I question. I design.

The FRC Game is released the first Saturday in January via video all over the country. The 2014 challenge was to build a robot that could travel through an opposing team of robots, carry, pass, catch and shoot a two foot diameter ball into a goal. The team had six weeks to design, build and program their robots

Tom Saxon, a team mentor for Westwood Robotics, acknowledged that the students came to the program as “paper thinkers.” They had little or no knowledge of design or building. Many students didn’t know how to use a hammer or a drill.

Scott Blevins, Team Mentor, was impressed with how much their abilities developed.  By the end of the season they were fabricators. When students learn to build they can see the application of math and science applied to everyday life.

As soon as Westwood knew what the 2014 Game was, Aerial Assist, they prioritized and developed a plan.  Students had to make decisions about how the robot would function. How would it hold the two foot diameter ball? How would it catch and pass the ball? How would it move on the field through the squad of opposing robots? How would it shoot the ball into the goal?

Saxon emphasized team work. It wasn’t just about teaching how to design but how to work as a team. He let the kids know there was going to be failure involved and building a robot would be a product of teamwork.  Teaching students to apply what they already knew was an important part of their growth and understanding. 

Students shared ideas and ideas melded to form a creative solution. Brainstorming was alive and well when Westwood Robotics came together to create.

2478: The Build

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by xmlrpc

I struggle. I collaborate. I create.

The FRC game was on! The challenge to build a robot that could travel through an opposing team of robots, carry, pass, catch and shoot a two foot diameter ball into a goal was daunting. It was a challenge Westwood Robotics was up to.  They would build a prototype.

The design had to be sophisticated, in that it had to be both simple and reliable. Logistics were important. What materials would be used? The robot could not be too heavy to maneuver on the field. The budget had to be maintained and the day to day schedule had to be managed to keep the build on track.

The challenge required dedication.  Students and mentors worked every day after school until early evening, with two late nights, and every Saturday.  Their time was spent in trial and error, building and refining. For some students, they always liked math and science; others discovered the real life applications of the subjects, while some enjoyed the creative process more.  For example, the creative process of deciding on robot names – would it be Mary-Kate and Ashley, or Luke and Leia?

One of the most difficult times, according to a team member, was the “Bag and Tag.”  At midnight on the final night of week six the robots had to be bagged, tagged and not touched until the competition.

Had Westwood Robotics Team met the challenge?  How well would Westwood’s robot play the game?

2478: 1st Regional

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by xmlrpc

I try.

If the purpose of the Arizona Regionals was to get kids excited and celebrate technology, then the competition at Hamilton High School scored big. It was like a sports event; school colors, music, fun, team spirit and fans. Westwood Robotics Team was there to play the game and had winning on their mind. 

In the practice rounds the robot had problems. The team came together. They would move forward by trial and error. They would need to monitor and adjust.  For a first year team they did well and finished in the top 12. 

2478: 2nd Regional

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by xmlrpc

I solve. I invent.

Westwood Robotics Team did not win in the Arizona Regional competition but they gained experience and were ready to test what they had learned. What the regional in Las Vegas lacked in a spirited atmosphere was made up for in talent and competitiveness. The teams from California were strong.  The action on the field was more aggressive. The driving was harder hitting.

On the first day of competition, team mentor Tom Saxon was proud of the solid design the students had built, as well as the attitude, enthusiasm and skill they were demonstrating.  At the end of the first day Westwood had two wins and one loss.

Westwood team member, Emily, credits Mr. Saxon’s favorite phrase, “Don’t worry about it”, as being reassuring for students even when they felt frantic or the pressure was extreme.

The final match of the Las Vegas Regional was suspenseful and exciting. With the win team 2478 realized a dream and knew their dedication and hard work had paid off.

Looking at the team on the field, with their medallions and trophy, team mentor, Scott Blevins, noted the look of pride on their faces.  “It was a huge work. They were the underdogs. They came through and they nailed it.”

Southwestern Style

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by xmlrpc

Pete Curé continues the architectural tour with a Southwestern touch. This home sits on eight acres of land and is located on what used to be an old stage coach. It also functioned as cavalry stop in the 1830s.

Pete speaks with builder, Jason Smith (Identity Construction), about what he did to keep the home looking authentic to the period. They used many old western artifacts throughout the property. They also redid the pond and re-built the ranch house out back. Take a look at some of the subtle yet modern twists in this southern style home.

Westwood Robotics

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by xmlrpc

Tom and Mary Saxon speak to us about the rebirth of the Mesa Westwood High School robotics team and their upcoming competition. Sponsored in part by Cox, the team will build a robot and compete in local and regional competitions in 2015. In 2014, the team won the regional competition in Las Vegas and competed in the national tournament.

For more information, please visit

Modern Architecture

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by xmlrpc

Take a look at some magnificent architecture throughout Arizona. Pete Curé meets up with Vernon Swaback (Architect, Swaback Partners) who was a protégé of famed architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. We take a tour of a home Vern designed in North Scottsdale that epitomizes desert living architecture.

The arhcitect takes advantage of solar angles and views. He also provides the home with a sense of arrival – building up to a destination with sight and sound of water. There is great attention to detail throughout the whole home. It’s an extremely modern design with the Arizona desert in mind.

2478: Opening

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by xmlrpc

Meet the Westwood High School Robotics Team 2478 and learn about their quest for a championship in the 2014 FIRST Robotics Competition.

Lego League

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by xmlrpc

Students and their coach from the Hope Christian Academy speak about their Eagle Bots Lego League, as well as their current and future plans. Coach, Tambra Stuber, tells us what they are doing and why this is important for gaining STEM skills and interest for students, and how this can lead to further STEM competitions in High School.

Spare Parts Story

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by xmlrpc

Meet the stars of the Spare Parts movie starring George Lopez and the actual Carl Hayden students who beat MIT in a national robotics competition. If you can dream it, you can build it. Interviews with George Lopez, David del Rio, Carlos and Alex PanVega, and director Sean McNamara. JR and Vanessa speak with Luis Aranda and Christian Arcega, who are two of the actual students that the movie is based on. Dr. Allan Cameron and Fredie Lajvardi, educators from Carl Hayden are also interviewed.

Mediterranean Home

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by xmlrpc

Pete Curé heads to the red rocks of Sedona to see a Mediterranean style home. A lot of the detail throughout the property is in the landscape, archways, low tile roofs, and geometrical looking fountains and pools. This style of architecture was developed north of the Mediterranean Sea in countries like GreeceItaly and Spain. Take a look at this home, which is beautiful especially with the backdrop of the red rocks of Sedona.

Penthouse Loft

Posted on: March 23rd, 2015 by xmlrpc

Pete Curé continues his architectural tour and heads up to Cave Creek to check out a penthouse loft in the middle of the Arizona desert. This Manhattan-inspired home takes advantage of the elevation and is surrounded by the natural shapes of the mountains. The home is long and linear. On a clear day, the owners get lots of distant views and can even see South Mountain. Suzanne and Michael Johnson (Homeowners & Architect) show us the standout features of this modern Cave Creek home.