The Boys and Girls Club of the Gila Valley received a $20,000 grant from Freeport-McMoRan for its Robotics Program and the team readies themselves for competition at Northern Arizona University.

July 16, 2019

The Robotics Team, named the Nerdy Newbs, has been training for competition. The Courier caught up with the Nerdy Newbs as they practiced in the Safford Middle School gym last Thursday and, even though the gym had no air conditioning except a swamp cooler on a 107-degree day, the team was sweating it out for science.

"This is the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing, so NAU was a huge part in the research for that so they’re having a celebration for robotics teams to come in and replicate the moon landing,” said robotics instructor Mikayla Cope.

Located at the Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, the competition incorporates computer programming, drone flight and geological research. The team will gain points in the competition for landing a drone as close to a mapped location as possible to identify moon rocks and creating a computer-generated route for a small moon rover to navigate mapped barriers and pitfalls.

The equipment and competition entries for the Boys and Girls robotics program were purchased through a $20,000 STEM scholarship awarded two years ago to the club from Freeport-McMoRan.

“I’m flying the drone and I’ve landed it multiple times. Trying to keep the drone in one spot because the drone is weighted more on one side than the other is hard,” said Nerdy Newbs member Mackenzie Cope. “I’m a bit nervous about the competition, but I think we will do great with our team because we’re all working very hard. I like to fly the drone; it’s fun. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s fun to do.”

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