The robotics program at Platte County High School has been building for five years, and now they need a little help.
A now well-established activity, the teams have started looking for community support in the form of sponsorships and donations. The money not only goes toward funding the basic parts needed to build the robots but also for travel and entry fees into desired competitions.
There were 18 members of the robotics club last year with hope of expanding to 20 or 30 this year. In the past, the district provided 100 percent funding in addition to state grants for parts and equipment, but the growth presents a unique problem — needing more funds to accommodate the increased participation.
The group meets three to four days a week during the summer and every day after school, varying from two to five hours. Members are not required to attend every meeting, but participation is encouraged.
“The more you put into the program, the more you will get out,” co-leaders of the current program Nathan Gurgens and Will Valentine often tell the members.
To get the most out of the experience, the team members have come up with different ways to generate support.
The robotics program started in 2012 and currently competes in VEX Robotics, which releases a new game every year with a new set of rules and objectives. A single robot can be composed of $1,500 to $2,000 worth of parts, and although many can be reused each season, there are also costs for entering certain tournaments.
Valentine said the team hopes to take all four of the teams in the program to state this year ($50 each), three to four teams to nationals ($450 each) and two teams to the worlds competition. To achieve that goal, the robotics program needs to raise $4,000.
Businesses can provide support through direct sponsorships to the program, ranging from T-shirt and banner logo placement to logo placement on the actual robots and ad placements within videos produced throughout the season. Also a very talented videographer, Valentine said those videos are often sent out in the Platte County R-3’s digital newsletter, and that they have gained popularity within the VEX Robotics community.
Individuals who are interested in providing support are welcome to make donations of their own.
The robotics team also wants volunteers to help at the home tournament in Platte City, and individuals with technical background who would be interested in mentoring or providing any form of advice are greatly needed and would be extremely appreciated, Valentine said. Both businesses and individuals looking for more information, wishing to donate or seeking sponsorship opportunities can contact the team at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last year, the robotics team turned its funding into multiple awards from high-level competitions.
Platte County won two tournament championships, two tournament finalist showings, two design awards and a build award. At the Missouri State competition in Rolla, the Pirates received the Build, Innovate and Tournament Finalist award. At the Nationals tournament in Council Bluffs, Iowa, they received the Amaze Award, given to only one team of the 300 competing for “a solid mechanical design along with demonstrated robot programming, robustness, strong performance and consistency.”