‘Building Hope’ Within the White Mountain Apache Reservation
VEX Robotics and the Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation 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 Whiteriver, Arizona to document the journey of Nekoda Altaha and the students of the White Mountain Apache Reservation.
Between 38% to 63% of Native Americans residing on a reservation live below the poverty line, limiting opportunities among youth.i Although careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields are available, they are often acquired by 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 White Mountain’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 educational robotics program (VEX V5 and VEX IQ) 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 18 competitive robotics teams! This is a remarkable achievement considering that 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 also communication and problem-solving skills. 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 the REC Foundation invited them to the 12th annual VEX Robotics World Championship in 2019. During the week-long event, teams from the White Mountain Apache Reservation were given the opportunity to put their newly learned skills to the test while competing in the world’s largest robot competition. 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 Championship provided Apache students with an enriching cultural experience, and a unique opportunity to travel outside of the reservation.
Witness Nekoda and his students’ inspiring journey into robotics through VEX Robotics and REC’s Building Hope documentary on the VEX YouTube channel and both organization’s social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter). Nekoda is motivating educators from across the nation to be the catalyst for change in their own communities.
Connect with roboticseducation.org to learn more about affordable, sustainable, and accessible robotics education programs, and explore VEX Robotics.com today to join the new age of leading educators.