South’s BEST Robotics championship at Auburn University Dec. 5-6

Published: December 01, 2015
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The public will have an opportunity to witness the enthusiastic, sports-like environment surrounding BEST Robotics as the 2015 South's BEST championship takes place on the Auburn University campus in Beard-Eaves-Memorial Coliseum on Dec. 5 and 6.

The championship will feature the top 55 teams from five southeastern states. Five schools from the local War Eagle BEST hub have advanced to the championship: Wetumpka High School, Southside Middle School in Tallassee, Eastwood/Cornerstone School, Tallassee High School and Saint James School in Montgomery. Schools from the 10 other hubs in Alabama participating in South's BEST can be found at http://www.southsbest.org/teams.html.

BEST, which stands for "Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology," is a middle school and high school robotics program, now in its 23rd year nationally and 15th year in Alabama. BEST, designed to answer the nation's need for more and better-prepared workers in scientific, industrial and technological fields, is the only robotics program in the nation that is offered to schools at no cost. 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 the South's BEST championship, which is hosted by Auburn University's College of Sciences and Mathematics and the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering.

This year's teams will compete in a series of head-to-head matches on a playing field designed for this year's game titled "Pay Dirt." The challenge is for each team to create a robot that can repair an underground mine, and at the same time, extract five lucrative materials at various depths beneath the surface, namely coal, iron, aluminum, copper and lithium.

In addition to robot performance, teams will 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.

"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 for the College of Sciences and Mathematics at Auburn University. "BEST is successful because students have an opportunity to interact with industry leaders, technical professionals 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."

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; to prepare students to be technologically literate and thus better prepared to enter the workforce; to help students develop leadership, project management, teamwork and organizational skills; and to develop confidence and competence.

More information on South's BEST, including a detailed game description and championship schedule, can be found at the website at www.southsbest.org. Photos taken at the preliminary competitions of the 2015 game, Pay Dirt, can be downloaded at this link: https://goo.gl/photos/4vZx2T8HaMcHtWFo6.