Schools shine at BEST eventPublished 7:01pm Saturday, November 2, 2013
Sportsmanship wasn’t reserved for Friday night’s football games as two local BEST Robotics teams helped propel Dallas County to a berth in the regional competition.
Dallas County High School brought an unfinished robot the 2013 BEST Robotics competition at Wallace Community College-Selma. After receiving some help from Morgan Academy and Martin Middle, the Hornets received the highest score on the obstacle course and will compete at regionals on Dec. 7 at Auburn University. Morgan Academy won the overall competition.
“Dallas County finally got their robot together just before the semi-finals,” Selma BEST Robotics director Johnny Moss said. “It was amazing to see the other teams lend a helping hand. It may have actually propelled Morgan to a win because teams receive points for sportsmanship.”
Teams can make regionals with a high score on the obstacle course, but the BEST Robotics competition grades competitors on several different categories — the robot’s performance, detail of the engineering notebook, appearance of a team exhibit, a marketing presentation and team spirit. Dallas County will only compete in the obstacle course at regionals.
A specific kit of items was given to each team on kick-off day. Only items in the kit could be used to build the robot, which was a challenge, according to Morgan Academy BEST Robotics advisor Steven Scheer.
“We met four days a week after school,” Scheer said. “We had to get organized and figure out how to build our robot with what we were given.”
Each year the competition takes on a new theme. This year’s it was named gatekeepers. The robot obstacle course mimicked a real CPU board.
The first obstacle was a series of wooden rods and plastic piping. Teams were challenged to place the wooden rods into the piping. The second obstacle required teams to lift colored, plastic hangers onto wooden rods.
Four teams competed at once in three-minute matches.
But teams didn’t get points simply for picking up an item. Points were awarded only if teams made a connection that would work on a real CPU board.
“You really have to remember what you’re doing on the previous obstacles,” BEST Robotics tech Hephzebah Hall said. “You have to actually make something. You don’t get any points for being able to pick up a hanger.”
At the lunch break, Martin Middle led the overall competition with 140 points. Morgan Academy was in second with 88 points. Dallas County was in third with 40 points, but still hadn’t finished its robot.
Just before the semifinals, the Hornets finished assembling their robot and made the next round because of the small number of teams, Moss said
“Because we only had eight teams, all eight made the next round,” Moss said. “Dallas County really got moving once they got going. They were picking up and placing hangers like clockwork.”
Black Belt schools aren’t the only ones passionate about robotics.
BEST — Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology — consists of 52 different hubs in the United States. It started in 1993 when two engineers for Texas Instruments founded the program.
The program is more than an educational experience, according to Wallace Community College-Selma President Dr. James Mitchell. Mitchell said BEST Robotics is a gateway to a potential career.
“In a way, it’s a recruiting opportunity for us,” Mitchell said. “We have programs where students build and interact with robotics. This is an excellent first step if a student is considering some form of robotics.”