‘Building Hope’ within the Apache Indian Reservation
Greenville, Texas – (November, 2019) – VEX Robotics and the Robotics Education & Competitions Foundation (REC) are proud to present a special documentary, Building Hope, recognizing the everlasting impact of educational robotics. Their shared passion for empowering young innovators led these industry leaders to the rural community of White River, Arizona to document the journey of Nekoda Altaha and the students of Fort Apache Indian Reservation.
On reservations, 63% of residents live below the poverty line, limiting opportunities among youth. Although careers in Science, Tech, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields are available, they are often given to those outside the reservation community due to a lack of access to modern skills and exposure to cutting-edge resources
Seeking to correct this imbalance, educators and curriculum developers at Fort Apache’s Canyon Day Junior High School and Alchesay High School were motivated to change the future of their students. By integrating the exciting and user-friendly VEX EDR and VEX IQ programs into the schools, Behavioral Health Technician Nekoda Altaha cultivated a newfound hope within the community.
Since embracing a STEM curriculum, the schools have experienced an ever-evolving program of over 60 students and a combined 18 competitive robotics teams! This is a remarkable achievement considering prior to Nekoda’s influence, these outstanding students had no awareness of educational robotics.
“Once in a while, a coach rises above the norm. What coach Nekoda has done in Arizona is amazing! He’s teaching them not only technical concepts in engineering but he’s teaching them communication skills, problem-solving skills, and he’s having a profound impact on these students. They see hope, they see good jobs in their future,” says Dan Mantz, CEO, REC Foundation.
Recognizing Nekoda and his students, VEX Robotics and REC invited them to the 12th annual VEX Robotics World Competition in 2019. During the week-long event, the teams from Fort Apache were given the opportunity to put their newly learned skills to ‘battle’. Nekoda was inducted into the REC Foundation STEM Hall of Fame – an honor which celebrates “Inspiration All-Stars” who have selflessly devoted themselves to helping their students succeed.
“Thank you for always being there and for never leaving our side.” – Apache Robotics Team.
Connecting more than 25,000 attendees from 60 countries, the VEX Robotics World Competition gave the Apache students a cultural exposure they had never experienced before; for many, the competition was their first time traveling outside of the reservation.
Witness Nekoda and his students’ inspiring journey into robotics through VEX Robotics and REC’s Building Hope documentary on both company’s YouTube channels and social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). Now Nekoda is motivating educators from across the nation to be the catalyst for change in their own communities.
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About VEX Robotics
VEX Robotics is a leading provider of educational and competitive robotics products to schools, universities, and robotics teams around the world. The VEX IQ and VEX EDR product lines span elementary, middle, and high schools with accessible, scalable, and affordable robotics solutions. Beyond science and engineering principles, a VEX Robotics project encourages teamwork, leadership, and problem solving among groups. It allows educators to easily customize projects to meet the level of students’ abilities as they inspire & prepare the STEM problem-solvers of tomorrow.
About Robotics Education & Competitions Foundation
The Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation’s mission is to increase student interest and involvement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by engaging students in hands-on, affordable, and sustainable robotics engineering programs.