BEST Robotics Competition a big success at Trinidad State
Trinidad Campus / March 1, 2016 / Written by Greg Boyce
Two area robotics teams are headed to a regional tournament in Arkansas after top finishes in the inaugural BEST Robotics Hub Competition at Trinidad State on Saturday, October 24, 2015. BEST is an educational robotics program involving schools across the country. BEST is an acronym for Boosting Engineering Science and Technology. There are three hubs in Colorado, two in the Denver area and the other at Trinidad State.
Seven middle and high schools from southern Colorado fielded teams. They traveled from Branson, Hoehne, Primero, Raton, Swink and Antonito. Trinidad Middle School also had a team, after competing in Denver a year ago.
At the beginning of the school year teams are given a parts kit that includes everything needed to build a remote control robot. Five weeks later the teams travel to Trinidad State and try out their ‘bots. The robot must perform tasks on a 24 foot square game field. Points are awarded dependent on the task. Up to four robots may compete at the same time. They then have one week to make modifications before Game Day, which happened Saturday at Scott Gym. Mentors and teachers had gone through training back in June to get an idea of how the competition works. The program is supported by donations and is free to participating schools. Well over 800 schools across the country now field a team each year.
The goal, of course is learning. Students face a challenge and must solve problems, build, adapt and strategize. And on game day there’s the added pressure of a three-minute time limit and live competition. At Scott Gym, about two hundred people showed up to watch. Branson Teacher Jodi Doherty said the learning continues right up to the final buzzer. “Oh I think so, because they’ve been put up against competition. Driving the robot around the classroom, that’s one thing. But when they’re under a time constraint and competition, it ups their game and I think they have to think faster. And that’s been a good thing.”
Were there issues? You bet. One robot lost a wheel or even two at nearly every turn. Another seemed to enjoy running upside down.
Last year the Trinidad Middle School Team had to leave for Denver around 3:30 a.m. for Game Day. This year it was just down the block. Not only was it more convenient, but they brought what they learned last year and applied it this year. “We saw what worked and what didn’t and we transitioned that to this and that’s why it works for us,” said 8th Grader Tony Arant. “We’ve learned from the mistakes and now we feel like we have some mechanical advantage.” That experience, plus a huge amount of work, propelled the Tony’s team into a first place finish in the robotics competition.
Since this is about learning, schools also have the option of competing for the BEST Award. It includes a notebook of how the robot was built, an exhibit, interviews, plus points for spirit and sportsmanship. Those scores are averaged in with the scores the robot receives on the Game Field. Raton High School won the BEST Award when the numbers were tallied at the end of the day.
So Trinidad Middle School and Raton High School have earned the right to continue the BEST challenge at a regional meet in Fort Smith, Arkansas in early December.
Will Doherty and her Branson students be back next year? “I think the kids will make us do it again,” she laughed. “I think they’ve enjoyed it. I think they like this hands-on learning. Six weeks feels like a long time, but it goes quickly.”
If you are interested in volunteering, donating or sponsoring next year, please contact Krystalee Moreno at 719-846-5657 or Krystalee.Moreno@trinidadstate.edu.
SoCo BEST Award Winners
- 1. Raton High
- 2. Branson
- 3. Swink
- 1. Trinidad Middle
- 2. Raton High
- 3. South Conejos
- 4. Branson
Founders Award for Creative Design
- 1. Branson
Most Robust Machine
- 1. Trinidad Middle
- 1. Swink
- 1. Primero
Software Design and Simulation
- 1. Raton High