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Devin D. Thorpe

Devin Thorpe

San Diego Schools Recognized in Regional Botball Tournament

Six local schools in SDSU’s Exploring STEM Careers Initiative were recognized for their engineering skills.

(San Diego, Calif., March 30, 2015) – Six local schools in SDSU’s Exploring STEM Careers Initiative (ESCI) placed among the best regional teams in their first year of Botball, a team-oriented robotics program for youth. Schools awarded trophies and recognition were: Carlton Oaks (Santee), Hoover High (San Diego Unified), Mar Vista Academy (Sweetwater Union), Monroe Clark Middle (San Diego Unified), Vista La Mesa (Lemon Grove) and Willow School (San Ysidro).

The robotics competition was held last Saturday at West Hills High School in Santee. Forty teams came from as far away as Palm Desert, Arizona and Estado de Mexico, Mexico. Their assignment was to move their “bots” on a huge board in a geology survey-themed game, looking for minerals and UFOs. Botball uses science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), along with computer code writing skills, to design, build, program and document robots that move on a board.

The 12 ESCI schools competing for the first time against seasoned teams demonstrated command of the playing field, after receiving support and training in January through a National Science Foundation (NSF) grant to San Diego State University Research Foundation (SDSURF) in collaboration with San Diego Science Alliance (SDSA). Professional engineers and college engineering students mentored the students and judged the competition.

Tournament awards went to: Hoover High, 3rd place Double Elimination, Jack Wetzel, teacher; Mar Vista Academy, 4th place Double Elimination and Outstanding Overall Design, Warren Garnier and Guadalupe Trejo, teachers; Carlton Oaks Middle, 2nd place Alliance Challenge, Pamela Mitchell, teacher; Monroe Clark Middle, 2nd place Alliance Challenge and Outstanding Rookie Team, Nicole Vetcher, teacher; Vista La Mesa Middle, Outstanding Rookie Team, Linda Ha, teacher; and Willow School, Judge’s Choice Trophy (KISS Award), Cynthia Mosqueda, teacher.

Other county schools that competed and were supported by the NSF grant this year were: e3Civic High (San Diego Unified); Pride Academy (Santee); Valhalla High (Grossmont); and Del Dios Academy, Mission Middle and Rincon Middle (Escondido).

For more info on ESCI, visit

For a list of all area schools competing, visit

Through ESCI, Botball® provides equipment, software, curriculum and professional development that enables teachers to teach their students to write computer code coupled with real-life applications of the engineering design process. The curriculum is aligned to Common Core Math and Next Generation Science Standards and (NGSS) vertically aligned with concepts and skills in middle and high school. The KISS Institute for Practical Robotics (KIPR) of Norman, Okla., has over 8,000 middle and high school students participating in Botball® around the world.

San Diego Science Alliance (SDSA) has been leading Botball education and competition in Southern California for 15 years.

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