Brawley’s Renaissance school competes in robotics tournament

BRAWLEY, Calif. – A group of high school students competed in a robotics tournament for the first time ever.

Brawley’s Renaissance Alternative High School student Aaron Casados describes the moment he and nine other students walked onto the floor of this year’s BOTBALL Tournament in San Diego.

“No prior knowledge to what we were stepping into,” Casados said.

He says he remembers feeling nervous.

“We didn’t know how the other competition was going to be, we didn’t know how the other teams were like, how experienced they were, we really didn’t know anything about the other teams,” Casados said.

Teacher Danny Tomboc says Renaissance is a tiny school with only 20 students who faced very stiff competition.

“There were over 28 schools there out of mostly San Diego, so these schools had been competing for the last 10 maybe 12 years,” Tomboc said.

Renaissance’s robotics program just started this year.

“Students started working on programming and with stem, which is science, technology, English and math – it’s all inclusive here,” Tomboc said.

They went into the tournament not expecting more than just participating.

“Learning experience for me as well as the students, we all jumped in like head first, not knowing what to expect,” Tomboc said.

He says the competition was fierce.

“It tested them mentally, physically, emotionally, and it really brought out the best in all the kids here,” Tomboc said.

Tomboc said the students efforts paid off in the end.

“We were ranking about sixth to eight place depending on what part of the tournament we were at,” Tomboc said.

Casados said this has been much more than just about a robot tournament.

“Besides programming and everything, I learned how to work better with other people and I learned more about teamwork and everything that comes with teamwork,” Casados said.

Just like all the students in the class, he’s now considering career options.

“NASA is one of the biggest things and I was really interested in that,” Casados said.

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