Building Mr. Roboto

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Students at Selma Middle CHAT Academy put their “best” foot forward in a Robotics competition at Huntingdon College in Montgomery.

The young people built a robot and entered it in the annual BEST competition which is an acronym for Boosting Engineering Science and Technology.

“Best is a non-profit organization whose mission is to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science, and technology through participation in a sports-like, science and engineering-based robotics competition,” according to the regional Web site:

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CHAT Academy took part in this year’s competition for the first time and had a wonderful experience according to the students, teachers and parents involved.

“It was one of the most awesome experiences I’ve seen the kids participate in,” said Mina Roussell, President of CHAT’s PTO and parent of one of the team members.

The students in the competition have six weeks to build a robot using engineering principles. The teams are evaluated based on five categories:

robot performance, table top display, oral presentation, project summary Notebook, and Spirit and Sportsmanship.

“The idea that they score on sportsmanship encouraged an enthusiasm that all of the kids put out for each competitor as opposed to just their own team,” said Rousell.

Sid Stubbs, Director of the Alabama BEST steering Committee Montgomery Hub, says that the contest is meant to be an educational experience not a “cut throat” competition, that is why they strongly encourage sportsmanship.

There were 21 teams total signed up for the competition, but only 16 made it to the contest itself.

The team from Selma was comprised of students from CHAT’s accelerated class as well as other students in the school who were interested regardless of their level in school.

“There is a tremendous amount of work that goes in to this,” says Stubbs. “It takes a lot of commitment from students, parents, and teachers to get all the work done.”

Once the competition got under way, the 16 teams went through a series of matches to determine who will move on to the semi-finals.

CHAT Academy qualified to compete for the wild card position as one of the eight teams that went to semi-finals.

The team didn’t move on, but they certainly cherished the experience.

Team member Eric Roussell, 8th grader and future pharmacist, said he learned that “team work is very important no matter where you go or what you do.”

“It was fun,” said Eric. ” I hope we can go again next year.”