Nelson Team Grants

Nelson Team Grants seek to enable Title I and STEM-focused elementary and middle schools (grades 4-8) in the Los Angeles area (especially LAUSD) to start teams to participate in the VEX IQ Challenge robotics program. Our goal is to inspire students to pursue STEM degrees and careers. We provide schools with the resources needed to inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers.

Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, we could not hold a regular season with coach training and leagues in 2020-2021. Many teams could not even hold team meetings. However, many options were available for teams that were able to meet, including Online Challenges, Virtual Events, and Remote Events. More teams were able to hold team meetings and participate in leagues in 2021-2022. In Southern California, roughly 10% as many teams participated in 2020-2021 and roughly 50% as many teams participated in 2021-2022 as participated in 2019-2020. Teams that received Nelson Team Grants previously were not required to participate in an official event the last two seasons to maintain their team grants in good standing, but all teams are expected to register and participate in an official event this season (2022-2023).

Schools that received Nelson Team Grants previously and that pay to register one or more returning teams for the 2022-2023 season are eligible to apply for the Returning Teams Award even if they received this award last season. This award offers a new (1st Gen) IQ Robot Battery (NIMH) ($23) if not received last season and (when available) a (2nd Gen) IQ Robot Battery (Li-Ion) ($50) for each paid team. Li-ion batteries reportedly last five longer than NIMH batteries. NIMH Robot Batteries that have not been recharged since the 2019-2020 season are unlikely to take a full charge if they can be recharged at all. The items included in a Returning Teams Award are listed in the table below.

Schools that received Nelson Team Grants previously and that pay to register more teams for the 2022-2023 season than they did for any prior season are eligible to apply for an Additional Teams Award for one or two additional teams. The items included in an Additional Teams Award are listed in the table below.     EXPIRED

Schools that received Nelson Team Grants previously, that pay to register one or more teams for the 2022-2023 season, and that have not yet expanded their VEX IQ Challenge field from 4'x8' to 6'x8'are eligible to apply for a Field Upgrade Award for one or two fields. This award includes a VEX IQ Challenge Field Upgrade Kit ($100).

Schools that have not previously registered any VEX IQ teams and that are interested in starting one or more new teams for the 2022-2023 season are eligible to apply for the New Team Award. Schools interested in starting two or more new teams can also apply for the Additional Team Award. The items included in these awards are listed in the table below.

Schools that receive a New Team Award are required to register one VEX IQ Challenge team ($200 registration fee paid by grant the first year) and to register that team for and to attend an official event (typical fee $155) each year. Schools that receive a New Team Award should plan to spend up to $155 the first year for event registration and $540 each subsequent year for team registration ($200), event registration ($155), field and game element kit ($130), and for additional robot parts ($55). These cost estimates to not include shipping and sales tax. The recommended team size is 3-6 students the first year and up to 12 students in subsequent years.

Schools that receive an Additional Team Award are required to register one additional VEX IQ Challenge team ($150 registration fee paid by grant the first year) and to register that team for and to attend an official event (typical fee $155) each year. Schools that receive an Additional Team Award should plan to spend up to $155 the first year for event registration and $360 each subsequent year for team registration ($150), event registration ($155), and for additional robot parts ($55).

  • School submits Nelson Team Grant application.
  • LeRoy Nelson notifies school of decision.
  • LeRoy sends approved schools instructions to register team(s) if they have not already done so, Team Guide (PDF), and Frequently Asked Questions (PDF).
  • School registers team(s) and team contacts. No payment or student names are needed.
  • School forwards team registration order confirmation email to LeRoy.
  • LeRoy pays the team registration fee(s) for approved teams.
  • A small box containing a Team Welcome Kit should arrive approximately one week after payment of fee(s).
  • One or more coaches attend Coach Basic Training.
    • Training provided by LeRoy Nelson and experienced coaches.
    • Covers robot building, introduction to programming, and team logistics.
    • No prior robotics or technical experience is required to be a VEX IQ coach.
    • Coaches bring a portable computer (Windows, MacBook, iPad, or Chromebook) that the team(s) can use later.
    • Coaches need to know how to use a computer browser, preferably Chrome.
    • Everything else that coaches need to know will be covered at this training.
    • Offered the week before school starts and later as needed.
    • Attendance is optional for coaches with experience at another school or for coaches that attended similar training. Discuss with LeRoy.
    • Schools may receive additional VEX IQ equipment at or after this training.
  • Coaches may attend Coach Advanced Training.
    • Training provided by LeRoy Nelson and experienced coaches.
    • Covers programming, Online Challenges, Awards.
    • This training is intended for coaches with one year of experience and/or with some experienced or GATE students.
    • New coaches that attended Coach Basic Training may also attend this training.
    • Coaches with more than one year of experience coaching robotics teams may attend this training and help train less experienced coaches.
    • Offered the week before school starts and later as needed.
  • In August and September, LeRoy provides additional VEX IQ robot equipment, full fields, and game kits for schools with trained coaches and registered teams. The complete equipment bundle for new teams includes up to 7 boxes weighing a total of 90 pounds.
  • School organizes team(s) to learn how to build and program VEX IQ robots.
  • LeRoy works with Local Districts to organize and post leagues for local schools to attend.
  • LeRoy sends school instructions to register teams(s) for leagues and other events.
  • School registers team(s) for at least one official event (league or tournament).
  • School forwards event registration order confirmation(s) to LeRoy.
  • Teams attend event(s) with at least one background-checked adult coach (usually a teacher) for each team.
  • Top teams qualify for Regional Championships, U.S. Open Championship, and/or VEX Robotics World Championships.

Our goal is to double the number of participating teams this season, which will require doubling the number of LAUSD leagues from 6 last season to 12 this season. Most leagues from last season will continue, some leagues from earlier seasons will be restarted, and some new league will need to be added.

Each new league should have 16-24 teams. Each continuing league should have 20-36 teams. Each league needs at least 16 teams to qualify top teams for Regional Championships.

All new schools are expected to send one or more coaches to attend Coach Basic Training.

Coaches that attended Coach Basic Training may also attend Coach Advanced Training.

All new schools participating in a league are expected to send one or more coaches to attend a League Orientation, if offered.

Most leagues meet after school four times between October and January:

  • Early October: League Orientations for coaches.
  • October: Qualifying Session 1: Practice Teamwork Matches and Qualification Teamwork Matches.
  • November and December: Qualifying Sessions 2-3: Qualification Teamwork Matches.
  • January: Remote Judging and Championship Session: Skills Matches followed by Finals Matches and Awards.
  • Most league sessions start at 4:00 PM.
  • League Orientations end by 5:30 PM.
  • Qualifying Sessions end by 7:00 PM.
  • Championship Sessions end by 7:45 PM.

If my school receives a Nelson Team Grant, I understand that my school will have use of the provided robotics equipment for as long as my team fulfills the conditions listed below. A new VEX IQ Challenge season starts after the VEX Robotics World Championships at the end of April each year.

  • The coaches/mentors and administration at my school support creating a sustainable VEX IQ Challenge program.
  • The robotics equipment will be stored in a safe, clean location.
  • The robotics equipment will be used for official VEX IQ Challenge events or activities each season.
  • My team(s) will complete and pay team registration each season (paid by the grant the first year).
  • My team(s) will register for and will attend at least one official event each season.
  • My team(s) will participate in post-season surveys to assure that the above conditions have been fulfilled.

In the future, if my team(s) no longer fulfill(s) the conditions listed above, I will return the robotics equipment so that it can be made available to another school.

2022 Nelson Team Grant Application for Returning Teams Only (Word document, 4 pages, updated 09/08/22)

This application should be signed by a school administrator, preferably by the Principal.
Please scan and email the signed application to LeRoy@LARobotics.org.
Applications are due by Friday, September 23, 2022.

Bassett Elementary School was one of the first schools to receive a Nelson Team Grant. Bassett Elementary’s dynamic journey to the VEX Robotics World Championships in their second year is masterfully captured in this insightful and gripping documentary. As we follow the trials and triumphs of the small band of determined students, teachers and support staff, this video celebrates overcoming the challenges of the world with heart, spirit and teamwork.

Frequently Asked Questions (PDF)

LeRoy Nelson, Treasurer
Los Angeles Robotics
1457 3rd St
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

E-mail: LeRoy@LARobotics.org
Mobile phone: (310) 529-4637, 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM Pacific 7 days
Home office phone: (310) 937-7226

Los Angeles Robotics is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation. Last updated on 09/25/22.
For additional information or to report problems, please contact: LeRoy@LARobotics.org.