Answering the nation’s need for more and better-prepared workers in scientific, industrial and technological fields, BEST Robotics (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) is a middle school and high school robotics program, now in its 21st year nationally and 13th year in Alabama, that is available to all schools at no cost. BEST is the third-largest educational robotics program in the nation and is the only one that is free to schools. The not-for-profit, all-volunteer program challenges students to design, build and market a robot to use in a six-week-long series of competitions, culminating in a regional championship.
War Eagle BEST is the local competition in east Alabama and west Georgia. The War Eagle BEST competition occurred at Auburn University in October, and the event brought together 23 middle and high school teams.
During the 2013 competition, teams compete in a series of head-to-head matches on a playing field designed for this year’s game titled, “Gatekeeper.” The theme behind Gatekeeper is to upgrade a fictitious robot, “Squeaky,” with the fastest and “BEST CPU” on the market. Each team designs and builds a robot that can complete specific tasks related to the upgrade. On the playing field, the student-built robots are mounted on a trolley that moves in a 90-degree angle, giving the robots access to three stages. At each stage, the robots encounter challenges that mirror real-world engineering concepts: stage one requires students to guide the robot to collect transistors to make gates; in stage two, the robot uses previously built gates to fabricate integrated circuits; and in stage three, the robot uses previously built integrated circuits to fabricate the BEST CPU.
In addition to robot performance, teams compete to receive awards in other categories, such as engineering design notebook, marketing presentation, team exhibit, interview, team spirit and sportsmanship. Awards are given based on criteria, such as demonstrated teamwork, a positive attitude and enthusiasm, school and community involvement, and creativity. The highest award a team can receive is the BEST Award, given to the teams that most embody the concept and spirit of the competition. Winners are judged on a combination of project engineering notebook, marketing presentation, team exhibit and interview, and team spirit and sportsmanship.
The winners of the 2013 War Eagle BEST program are:
BEST Award Winners:
1st Place: Brewbaker Technology Magnet School (Montgomery, AL)
2nd Place: Wetumpka High School (Wetumpka, AL)
3rd Place: Springwood School (Lanett, AL)
4th Place: Columbus High School (Columbus, GA)
1st Place Robotics: Wetumpka High School (Wetumpka, AL)
2nd Place Robotics: Lee-Scott Academy (Auburn, AL)
3rd Place Robotics: Saint James School (Montgomery, AL)
4th Place Robotics: Springwood School (Lanett, AL)
Winners Advancing to South's BEST, December 7-8 at Auburn University:
Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School
Saint James School
Wetumpka High School
The public will have an opportunity to witness firsthand the enthusiastic, sports-like environment surrounding the BEST Robotics program as one of the 2013 regional championships, South’s BEST, will take place on the Auburn University campus in the Auburn Arena on Dec. 7-8.
COSAM Outreach, in partnership with the Sam Ginn College of Engineering, will host the South’s BEST Regional Championship, which will feature the top 56 teams from multiple states, including Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Tennessee and Louisiana.
The primary objective of the BEST Robotics program is to: provide students with a real-world engineering experience that incorporates the practical application of math and science; prepare students to be technologically literate and thus better prepared to enter the workforce; help students develop leadership, project management, teamwork and organizational skills; and develop confidence and competence.
“BEST works because students are the sole participants and primary decision-makers, designers and builders for the competition,” said Mary Lou Ewald, director of outreach in the College of Sciences and Mathematics. “BEST is successful because students have an opportunity to interact with industry leaders, technical professionals, scientists and engineers who act as mentors, guiding them through the challenges they face while designing, building, promoting and competing in the BEST Robotics program. Students gain skills and hone talents they will use as members of the future workforce, including: abstract thought, self-directed learning, teamwork, project management, decision making, problem solving and leadership.”
There is no cost to attend the South’s BEST championship. More information on South’s BEST, including a detailed game description, can be found at the website at www.southsbest.org.