Friday, November 26, 2021

Cactus Wren Results, Pictures & Software Updates

Happy Thanksgiving to all our teams, coaches, mentors & volunteers! We're so thankful for all of you!

Competition Software Update from Head FTA Zach

Make sure your team is ready to compete by performing a field inspection at-home! First, power on your robot and connect your driver station. On the driver station app, tap the three dots in the upper-right hand corner of your phone and select self-inspect. Make sure that all of the fields are green and you are running at least version 7.0 of the FTC Driver Station app and FTC Robot Controller app. If anything is out-of-date, you can follow these links for updating the device:

REV Control Hub & Driver Hub Firmware

REV Robotics Docs

REV Control Hub Operating System

REV Robotics Docs

REV Control Hub Robot Controller App

REV Robotics Docs

REV Driver Hub Operating System & Driver Station App

REV Robotics Docs

FTC Apps on Android Phones

GitHub Link

Note that the apps are no longer available from the Google Play Store. Instead, teams should use the REV Robotics Hardware Client to install the latest app updates for the Android phones. Alternatively, teams who program their robot using Android Studio should download the latest version of the SDK from GitHub and copy their "TeamCode" folder to the new version before deploying. If you have any questions, please reach out to Zach, our Arizona Lead FTA. He will also be at Saguaro Blossom to assist teams. 

Championship Update

As you've probably heard, the FIRST World Championship will be one single culminating event in Houston, TX in April. Each FIRST Tech Challenge region will advance two teams - the Inspire Award Winner and the Captain of the Winning Alliance - from the region championship events. Please read more information on Ken's Blog here. 


This year we will have one Interview-only event for Arizona Dean's List February 1-3, 2022. Each team may nominate up to two outstanding 10th and 11th graders for the FIRST Dean's List. Each of the nominees will be interviewed remotely in February, and the Finalists will be announced at the Arizona Championship February 19. The deadline to nominate for the FIRST Dean's List is January 15, 2022. That may seem a long way off, but with the upcoming holiday breaks, it will be here before you know it! Please see the Dean's List guide (link to the right) for more information on nominating your deserving students. 

Please also remember that payment for qualifiers is due by December 3 (next Friday!) We need your payment or PO request by then. Communication is key! Please let us know your payment status by this deadline, thanks. 

Cactus Wren Pictures

We had a blast at the Cactus Wren Qualifier! You can view the pictures taken by the CocoNuts and the Knights of the Lab Table HERE

Cactus Wren Results

Congrats to all the teams that competed at the Cactus Wren Qualifier, and a special thank you to Team 8081 Knights of the Lab Table for hosting! It was amazing to see the growth in the game play in just this first event. We can't wait to see how your teams and robots grow throughout the season. Congrats also to the first five teams to advance to the Arizona Championship! You can see the Championship roster by clicking the link to the right and the complete event results (including match scores and rankings) on the official FIRST Tech Challenge event results page (link to the right). 

  • Inspire Award: 12767, Catholic Master Builders
  • Winning Alliance: 12676, Catholic Master Builders & 14835, Tie-Dye Samurai
  • Finalist Alliance: 10111, Herberger Javalinas & 2844, Valley X Robotics
  • Think Award: 11980, Team Viper
  • Connect Award: 10369, Robosapiens
  • Innovate Award sponsored by Raytheon: 2844, Valley X Robotics
  • Control Award sponsored by Arm, Inc: 14835, Tie-Dye Samurai
  • Motivate Award: 14254, Trivium Knight Lights
  • Design Award: 12901, Cobra Commanders
  • Judges' Choice Award: 15477, Robo-Assemblers

Thursday, November 18, 2021

Good Luck Cactus Wren Teams!


It's time to play FREIGHT FRENZY!!!! Good luck to all the teams competing in this weekend's Cactus Wren Qualifier! Special thanks to Team 8081 Knights of the Lab Table and Gilbert Christian High School for hosting.

Spectators at Arizona FIRST Tech Challenge Events

In an effort to keep everyone safe and to allow us to perform contact tracing should the need arise, we are using a new online waiver system for spectators at our events. All spectators will scan a QR code on entry and sign the form electronically. We do not need to collect additional information for volunteers, teams, or coaches, as we have this information available through the FIRST Registration system. If you know of spectators that will be attending this weekend's event, they can sign the waiver before arriving by clicking this link. This link is also available under the resource list on the Blog. Thank you for your cooperation as we endeavor to have our events feel as "normal" as possible

Reminder: Qualifier Payment is due December 3

Please remember to submit your payment (or PO at the very least) for your qualifers by December 3. Now that tournament season is underway, we need your entry fees to run the events! If your team needs financial assistance, teams can still apply for the Registration Relief Grant from the CocoNuts here. 

You can watch the action from the Cactus Wren Qualifier on the Live Stream! Thank you CocoNuts for providing the stream, and good luck teams! 

2022 FIRST® Championship Update 

This season, FIRST® teams will compete in a single season-culminating FIRST Championship event, to be held in Houston, April 20-23, 2022, with modified advancement criteria for teams coming soon. Please note the location of your “home” Championship will not be a factor in eligibility. We will share more details on advancement by mid-December. Read more about our plans in our November 12 update posted on 

DonorsChoose Funding Available   

Thanks to generous support from Disney, educators in the United States can create DonorsChoose projects to fund FIRST in their classrooms. If your team needs additional tools or LEGO resources, learn more about teacher eligibility and how to create your project.   

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Time to QUACK it up at Qualifiers!

We hope you're all as excited as we are to return to in-person competitions again after over a year apart! 

Safety - yours and ours - starts NOW before you compete

  • Monitor your students' health - send anyone home that feels sick
  • Get tested if you or your team may have been exposed
  • Mask up at meetings
  • Wash your hands often
  • Disinfect your workspace
  • Follow your school's contact tracing protocol
  • Don't allow any students/mentors/spectators to attend events that are under quarantine, feel sick or have tested positive within a few days of the event
  • From the FIRST website: "FIRST believes that the best path toward ending the COVID-19 pandemic—and having a successful season—is through vaccination. We strongly recommend everyone who is eligible and has access to a vaccine consult with their physician and get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible."
  • Arizona FIRST Tech Challenge Mitigation Plan was sent to all coaches with your invoices. Please remember to read it, share it with team members & parents, have both coaches sign it, and submit it to us before your first event.
Please do your part to help KEEP our season in-person!

Qualifier Payment Due December 3

Communication is key - please let us know the status of your payment before this deadline. A PO request is fine by this deadline, but if we don't hear from you, your team may be dropped from your events.

Don't forget:

  • Your team must have your season registration paid with FIRST AND have two coaches cleared through the youth protection screening prior to competing. 
  • The scoring system actually will not allow us to add your team unless this criteria is met! 
  • Questions? Contact Patti or Susan. 

Portfolio vs Notebook - what's the difference? 

  • Notebook: The record of your entire season, kept electronically or as a hard copy in the pits. Judges may ask to see your notebook in judging or in follow-up interviews in the pits. 
  • Portfolio: A concise record of your team's accomplishments, not to exceed 15 pages. The portfolio will be uploaded to the FTC Scoring System by the Tuesday prior to your tournament so judges can review your materials prior to your interview on tournament day. If your portfolio exceeds 15 pages, judges will STOP READING after page 15. 
  • Please read Game Manual Part 1  Chapter 9 for details on what is required for your portfolio to be considered for judging. NEARLY ALL JUDGED AWARDS REQUIRE an engineering portfolio to be submitted in order for a team to be considered. 

Submitting Judging Materials

  • Control Award Form - fill this out, upload it to the scoring system, and print to give to judges during your interview. 
  • Teams will be added to the FTC Scoring system for their events. This is where you can upload your Portfolio and Control Award form. 
  • Please contact Patti with questions about the scoring system. 
  • PDF Tips - Getting your engineering portfolio sized to upload
    As your Engineering Portfolios get more elaborate and detailed throughout the season, you may run into a size issue. Keep in mind that the size limit for uploads through the scoring system is 15 Mb. If your team is receiving an error message about file size when you try to upload your judging materials, try these helpful tips from teams.

Who's playing at my event? 

  • You can see a list of teams registered for each event HERE. This is also listed on the right side of the Blog. 
  • Official event results can be viewed here on the official FTC page

Packing List

  • TEAM ROSTER showing all students have had a parent sign the online FIRST Consent form or paper consent forms for any students unable to do it online. CLICK HERE for instructions on the Youth Registration System or download the consent forms in ENGLISH - SPANISH
  • MASKS and SAFETY GLASSES for all your students, mentors, and spectators. We will not be able to loan safety glasses safely due to the pandemic. 
  • Closed-toed shoes and long hair tied back is required in the pits and on the field. 
  • Your robot!
    • Alliance markers for red and blue 
    • Team numbers attached to bot
    • Spare robot batteries and charger
    • Robot controllers
    • Programming computer, charger, and programs backed up on a flash drive
    • Box or small cart to move the robot from the pits to the field
    • Do a pre-event inspection for both software and hardware before arriving. Inspection sheets are in Game Manual Part 2 in the appendix. 
  • Engineering Portfolio and Notebook
  • Power supply and extension cord
  • Pit decorations or displays - please contact tournament director for information on size of pit
  • Team swag and spirit items
  • Scouting plan
  • Team spirit and Gracious Professionalism! 

Dean's List - Interview Event

The FIRST Dean's List honors student leaders on each team who exemplify the values of FIRST, have made a positive impact on their team and in the community, and show technical expertise. Each team many nominate up to two 10th or 11th grade students. Nominees become Dean's List Semifinalists. A panel of judges will interview each nominee and select our Finalists to be considered at World Championship. 

This year, all Dean's List interviews will take place remotely on February 1-3, 2022 in the afternoon/evening. Dean's List nominations are due by January 15, 2022 to be considered. No late nominations will be accepted.  For more information on the Dean's List criteria and how to nominate your sophomore and junior leaders for the FIRST Dean's List, click here. 


We are excited to plan a large, in-person Arizona Championship again! The Championship will take place on February 19, 2022 at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. 42-44 teams will advance to the Championship through the qualifying tournaments. 1 team per 4 playing an event will advance via the advancement criteria listed in Game Manual Part 1 in Chapter 6.

Thursday, November 4, 2021

15 Days till Arizona's 1st Qualifier!

Qualifier Reminders
Thank you for your patience as we assigned teams to events - it was like a HUGE game of Sudoku. Important: If your team hasn't received an invoice for your tournaments, please contact Patti!

As we approach our first qualifier, please remember these important deadlines: 
  • December 3: Qualifier payment deadline (see your invoice for instructions)
  • Your team must be registered and paid with FIRST and have two adult coaches cleared through the Youth Protection Program by the time your team competes for the first time. Click here for instructions.
  • Rookie Grants: Deadline extended to November 9! If you're a rookie team or you're adding a new team, be sure to apply by this deadline
Resources to Help Prepare for your Qualifiers
FIRST Tech Challenge Teams are invited to come and showcase your robot at an upcoming STEM Fair in Flagstaff! This event is student-run and organized. If you're interested, please contact Oscar. Students and families are also invited to attend.