Challenge Overview

To Our Zillah Robot Challenge Supporters,

 All good things must come to an end….In December of 2008, we launched our first ever Zillah Robot Challenge. At that time, robotics programs in the Yakima Valley and across the state were a rarity. The Zillah Robot Challenge was launched to help schools build and expand robotics education so that all students, regardless of where they lived, could learn how to program, build, and design. With generous donations, we were able to purchase the robot kits and loan them to schools free of charge to use during the Challenges, and to provide free food and beverages for participants on Challenge Day.

Since that first competition, we have had the privilege of working with, and learning from, more than 3,000 students from more than 100 different schools across our state. During that span, we have held 26 different competitions for both middle and high schools. We have been fortunate to have many members of the business communities, alumni, and military join us for demonstrations and as competition judges.

As a result of our combined efforts, robotics education has grown dramatically the last 9 years. It is now very common for schools across the Yakima Valley and Washington State to have their own robotics programs. We firmly believe the Zillah Robot Challenge helped to make that happen. Many schools purchased their own robots like ours to use which has resulted in our robot kits reaching more students than in the beginning.

With the growth in schools hosting their own programs, the need for the Zillah Robot Challenge has declined. This is actually a positive thing; the program did what it set out to do – to help schools build their own programs so that all students can have access to robotics education.

However, that leaves us with the reality that the time for the Zillah Robot Challenge is near the end. Simply stated, schools are ready for new and different challenges. As such, it is with both a fulfilled and heavy heart that we announce that the Saturday, March 18, 2017 Zillah Robot Challenge will be our last challenge and BOTH high schools and middle schools will compete that day.  When the program concludes, materials utilized for the Zillah Robot Challenge will be retained by the Zillah Science Boosters for future programs, and/or donated to schools throughout the Yakima Valley.

On behalf of the more than 3,000 students, teachers, parents, and community members that you have helped, we sincerely thank you for your support of our program.  Your generosity provided opportunities for many public, private, alternative and home school students they would not have had.

Personally, we both want to thank you for believing in the value of education, and for believing in us to help provide it.


Jeff Charbonneau (ZHS Science Teacher) 
& Sally Moffat (Zillah Science Boosters President)

Would your school/group like a Boe-Bot?

While the Zillah Robot Challenge has come to end, the robots and the learning will continue on! The Zillah Science Boosters has opened a grant application available to all public, private, alternative, home school, and after school programs. Through the grant the Zillah Science Boosters is donating several of the Parallax Boe-Bots that were used as part of the Zillah Robot Challenge. 



The Zillah Robot Challenge maintains an open invitation to all students in Washington State to participate in the program at NO COST. Public, private, alternative and home schools are eligible to participate. Community "After School Programs" are also eligible to participate.

The first 40 high school teams (maximum of 4 teams per school/group) and the first 40 middle school teams (maximum 4 teams per school/group) to register will be accepted. Additional team registrations will be accepted based on availability of robot kits. Teams can range in size from a minimum of 1 student to a maximum of 8 students. At least one advisor/chaperone must be present on competition day per 16 students.

This is a FREE program to the participating schools and teams (though teams are responsible for their own transportation). All funding comes from the generous support and donations of area businesses and individuals.

There are no fees charged to any school or participant.

Teams may participate as part of an in-class, club or after school program.


Each team is loaned a Boe-Bot Robot Kit (manufactured by Parallax, Inc.) from the Zillah High School Science Boosters at NO COST.
The teams have approximately 6 weeks for students to learn how to assemble, program, test and modify their robots before the competition. Each year there are two competitions; one held in December and one in March.

All operations performed by the robot must first be written in computer code by the students. As such, students must learn the computer language P-Basic. The program makes use of students’ mathematical and problem solving skills by requiring keen attention to detail and mathematical ingenuity to get the robot to perform at its highest level. Additionally, the robot needs to be physically assembled and wired. This allows for an increased understanding of electrical currents and circuitry.  

The Zillah Robot Challenge is based on at least three different competitions. Competitions may include: line following, sumo-robot wrestling, mazes, light following and/or spontaneous programming. Awards may also be given for other categories such as: innovative structural design, elegant or creative programming, and best "day of" modifications. At the end of the competition day, all kits and materials are returned to ZHS.

Competition day also features a guest lecture or demonstration from an area professional in a technology related field. The December 2011 keynote demonstration was by a Washington State Patrol Bomb Squad Unit and their robot.


Typically there are between 12 and 20 schools participating at each Challenge.  While some schools have attended every one of our Competitions, we always have new schools and new teams participating.  It is important to note that first time participants (with no previous knowledge of programming or robotics) have won our competition on their first try!  At the same time, there are a few schools that do quite well each year.

From December 2008 to March 2017, we have hosted 29 Zillah Robot Challenges.  Over 100 different schools and more than 3000 students have participated.