Sonoran Trails Robotics team wiping out the competition

Max Hancock, staff writer

The Sonoran Trails Middle School Robotics team has continued to make a name for themselves this year across the state as they go on to compete in various competitions and grow as a team.
First created by Ashley Fauss, a Sonoran Trails science teacher, the club has been unlike any other in the district. Run by Fuass and Micahel Colores, a Horseshoe Trails Elementary school Math teacher, the club meets after school in Fauss’s classroom.
“Mr. Dolezal asked if I was interested in robotics, so I decided to give it a go. Now I can’t imagine my life without this club. It truly is a passion I never knew I had,” said Fauss.
7th and 8th grade students can join the club with or without any prior knowledge of robotics, with the sole purpose of learning about coding and machinery. One does not even have to be an STMS student.
Like similar clubs, the STMS Robotics team competes in local competitions, even winning awards. In 2017, the team won the “Innovate Award” from AZ FTC (Arizona First Tech Challenge), winning an invitation to the state tournament held at Northern Arizona University.
The team competes throughout the year in competitions hosted by AZ FTC. Several months before the competitions, each team competing is given the same task for a robot to complete. Each team will spend this time constructing and coding a robot capable of completing this task and winning the qualifying tournament.
The winning team has a chance to compete in the state tournament. As the sport continues to grow, the competition intensifies.
The STMS Robotics team is student-led in the construction of their robots. Teacher aid is used only as guidance in technical roadblocks and for useful tips.
STMS Robotics is the definition of a hands-on activity, as the team works towards their qualifying victory. In addition, students learn problem-solving skills all while participating in an activity that they enjoy.
“I joined because I really enjoyed making things with my hands and getting stuff done,” said Jacob Rollins, a ninth grade STMS Robotics graduate.
However, once students graduate middle school, the road does not have to end there. Bella Vista Charter School nearby provides a club just like STMS Robotics. This club is for highschoolers, grades 9-12. Similar to the STMS Robotics team, the Bella Vista robotics program is not exclusive to registered Bella Vista students.
In addition, students who graduate from the STMS Robotics team can still volunteer at the middle school team meetings to help aid in the construction of the robots. The STMS Robotics team offers skills that will be used by students for the rest of their lives, regardless of if they pursue a field in robotics or not.
“I’ll be able to use what I’ve learned because I love theater and being a stagehand, so I think some of the skills I have learned from robotics will be useful,” said Allie Sims, a member of the team.
The club is open for anyone who meets the age requirements to join, serving as a perfect route for graduates of STMS. Cactus Shadows students have also hopped on the trend, pulling kids from every grade level.