Anonymous donation sends Utah junior high robotics team to world championship

Mar 22, 2024, 6:49 PM | Updated: Mar 23, 2024, 9:53 am

DAVIS COUNTY — A robotics team at North Davis Junior High is headed to the World Championship.

They qualified by taking the state title but faced a big challenge in raising the thousands of dollars to go there. An anonymous donor changed all that.

The fundraising now is just icing on the cake.

North Davis is a Title One school, meaning it’s in a lower-income area, so this is a really big gift for them.

It may look like all Legos and rubber bands, but their robot represents hundreds of hours after school.

Team member Heber Reed said, “And we’d take it home and work on it there.”

“So many times,” said another team member Levi Christiansen.

Heber Reed agreed with a laugh.

The four ninth-graders are getting to know each other very well.

Robotics team member Ashlyn Peterson said, “It’s a lot of fun to build and to code. And again, just to hang out with all of these nerds.”

Also, getting to know Max, the block-collecting, color-sorting robot that’s won them a lot of recognition.

Max dumps blocks

Max shows off his award-winning block-dumping technique. (Mike Anderson, KSLTV)

Peterson said, “The Excellence Award is really your score against everyone else’s score in total.”

They picked up six of those awards, four first-place awards, along with the state title, and a design award.

More than enough to qualify them for the VEX Robotics World Championship in Dallas this May.

“I’m going to Worlds. It’s a big opportunity for me and I’m really looking forward to it,” Christiansen said.

Each of these kids is looking to pursue careers in science and tech.

Nathan Toomey said, “One thing I like with robotics is building things, and that goes well with engineering because you can build things to solve world problems.”

Nathan Toomey and Heber Reed

Nathan Toomey and Heber Reed speak about the long hours they worked on Max after school. (Mike Anderson, KSL TV)

And just days ago, they weren’t sure if they’d even be able to go. With at least $2,000 per student for expenses, it was a big ask.

“Yeah, it’s life-changing for them. It’s an amazing opportunity,” Christina Brimhall said. She is the robotics team coach. She said an anonymous donor stepped up, giving the team enough to reach their $10,000 goal for the trip.

“We were all in just utter shock. We got that donation,” she said.

Now they’ll get that chance to see how Max stacks up against teams from around the world, and also a chance for a few other firsts.

“You haven’t been on a plane before?” Peterson asked Toomey.

He responded. “Nope.”

“I haven’t either,” Christiansen he said.

The robotics team will have a yard sale in front of the school on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.

You can help the robotics team by clicking here.

From here, they’re just raising funds to have some tokens to share with kids from other schools and to support the program.

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Anonymous donation sends Utah junior high robotics team to world championship