All Knights Robotics of Tempe Prep

Merging the Socratic with the Robotic...Tempe Prep Liberal Arts School achieves success in robotics competition.

Tempe Preparatory Academy’s High School Robotics team, FRC Team #3944 All Knights, was on the winning alliance for the FIRST Robotics Competition, FRC, Arizona East Regional Competition on March 19-21st. This year’s FRC competition was titled Recycle Rush. Recycle Rush is a recycling-themed game played by two Alliances of three robots each. Robots score points by stacking totes on scoring platforms, topping those stacks with recycling containers, and placing pool noodles in the recycling containers. The AZ East Regional winning alliance was comprised of Tempe Prep All Knights Team #3944, Bit Buckets Team #4183 of Tucson, and Sabercat Robotics Team #4146 of Saguaro High. Tempe Prep’s robot named “The Crates of Wrath” successfully made stacks of 6 totes plus a recycling can with a pool noodle that was delivered to game scoring platform where the stack was gently pushed onto the platform. The sight of the 6 tote stack combination towering at 8 feet 5 inches on the scoring platform as The Crates of Wrath pulled away brought cheers from the stands. This combination 6 tote combination was worth 42 points. The All Knights of Tempe Prep could not have succeeded without their Alliance Partners, the Bit Buckets and Sabercat Robotics, who together successfully and consistently made multiple tote stacks on the other scoring platform of the playing field. The three teams complemented each other such that they were able to outscore the other Alliance bringing them the championship win in the first two of the thre final rounds of the competition.

In addition to being on the winning Regional Competition Alliance, Tempe Prep received the FRC Industrial Design Award sponsored by General Motors. This award is given to the team whose robot celebrates form and function in an efficiently designed machine that effectively addresses the game challenge. The All Knights are grateful for the outreach by two other teams that helped them during the qualifying matches when their chain broke and they need to remove some metal so their robot would comply with competition weight. It was Team 842 Falcon Robotics of Carl Hayden High and Team 1011 Crush of Tucson that helped the All Knights recover from these setbacks. This type of team support in a competitive environment is the heart of FIRST.

FIRST Robotics Competitions require teams to build a robot in a 6 week period. Building a robot for Tempe Prep involves using CAD, Computer Aided Design, software to design part, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, and software programming in Java. The Crates of Wrath robot was hand welded by students of Tempe Prep, it used 3D printed parts manufactured from recycled material, these parts were designed with computer-aided design, CAD, software by Tempe Prep students, and 3D printed on a 3D printer. The welder was borrowed from a school parent, the CAD software, SolidWorks, was donated by sponsors of FIRST, and the 3D printer was a grant from 3D Systems and The Coca Cola Company. Just last May the All Knights of Tempe Prep were not sure they would have a team for 2015 until a Tempe Prep parent volunteered their garage to be the team’s shop. The volunteer mentors for the team are either current parents of students on the team or are parents of alumni robotics students. The robotics students work primarily on the weekend and occasionally after school. There is no class time dedicated to robotics related activities at their school. The All Knights students read great books, learn Latin, and discuss topics of truth, beauty and goodness via Socratic learning during the day. For Tempe Prep students, robotics gives them a playing field to apply their critical thinking and problem solving skills they develop through their liberal arts education. Robotics and FRC offer Tempe Prep students a way to demonstrate to their future colleges how a liberal arts education develops great STEM students.

Tempe Prep’s Regional success qualifies them for the FRC National Championship to be held April 22-25 in St. Louis, MO. The ALL Knights of Tempe Prep will have to raise the necessary registration fee and travel expenses to get the team to the Nationals.

About Tempe Preparatory Academy
Tempe Prep is an independently owned charter school of grades 6-12 with open enrollment. Using Socratic practice as our pedagogical foundation, our students, parents, teachers, and staff engage the Great Books and best of the Western tradition on a daily basis. Our mission is to enable students to acquire critical reasoning and communication skills and to explore the cultural and scientific achievements that are at the heart of the liberal arts and sciences. Tempe Preparatory Academies have a small student population with student/teacher ratio of 22 to 1. Tempe Prep students score near the highest in Maricopa County on standardized exams. Along with being a Blue Ribbon School, TPA continues to receive local and national recognition. To learn more about Tempe Prep visit our website at

About FIRST®
Accomplished inventor Dean Kamen founded FIRST® (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) in 1989 to inspire an appreciation of science and technology in young people. Based in Manchester, N.H., FIRST designs accessible, innovative programs to build self-confidence, knowledge, and life skills while motivating young people to pursue opportunities in science, technology, and engineering. With support from over 200 of the Fortune 500 companies and more than $20 million in college scholarships, the not-for-profit organization hosts the FIRST® Robotics Competition (FRC® ) for students in Grades 9-12; FIRST® Tech Challenge (FTC® ) for Grades 7-12; FIRST® LEGO® League (FLL® ) for Grades 4-8; and Junior FIRST® LEGO® League (Jr.FLL®) for Grades K-3. Gracious Professionalism® is a way of doing things that encourages high-quality work, emphasizes the value of others, and respects individuals and the community. To learn more about FIRST, go to
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Organizer and beneficiary

Jenn Dumas Stephens 
Tempe, AZ
Heather Topper