Teams receive robotic kits

Published 10:57 pm Saturday, September 22, 2012

Eighteen teams from area schools gathered in the Wallace Community College gymnasium Saturday and anxiously awaited their kits, which contained materials to make a robot.

These students are all part of the Friends of BEST (boosting engineering and science technology) program, and are competing in a contest to construct the best robot.

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After receiving their kits, teams have 42 days to construct their robot, which will compete in a regional competition at Auburn University.

“Every team in the United States will be competing in an identical field,” said Janis Steward, state coordinator for the program. “They have to make a robot that fits a certain scenario and this year it’s space-related.”

After receiving basic instructions for the competition, students scoped out the competition field and were able to take photos.

“They have specific directions with each kit that explains what they need to do,” Stewart said.

This is the first year that Selma will serve as a central “hub” for the robotics program. Last year the closest hub was in Mobile.

Quelonn Lucious, 10th grader at Greene County High School, has participated in the program before, and says he plans on winning the competition this year.

“I’ve learned a lot of things by being in this,” Lucious said. “And I hope my team can win this year, because we have the experience.”

He added that he hopes the skills he gains through this program will assist him in his goal of becoming a computer engineer.

Janice Jeams, 7th and 8th grade teacher at Paramount Junior High School in Boligee, Al, said she has seen tremendous improvement in her students who have participated in the friends of BEST program.

“I have a lot of kids who are sometimes trouble kids, so this is a great way for them to become involved,” Jeams said. “And this helps them in other areas of school too, like reading and writing. It’s just all around beneficial.”

One of the many goals of the program, Stewart said, is to give students the tools they need to pursue careers in engineering and technology.

“This program opens the door for children, it gets them to start thinking about their careers, not just getting out of high school,” Stewart said.

Students use algebra to construct their robot and then write a marketing plan that they “propose” to a business.

“This is a cross-curricular program,” Steward added. “It’s just unbelievable what they’ll learn.”

For more information on the program and how to get involved, visit