2016 BEST Robotics Season Walkthrough By, matthew mcpeck

When a group of kids from schools across America participate in the BEST Robotics program, they receive a box of stuff including different types of wood, PVC pipe, electronics, and a 6 week period to build a robot. It is amazing how many different types of robots are built to compete in the same competition.

1. A Box of Stuff

At the beginning of the school year, high schools across America form robot clubs that usually have at least 5 people involved. They are all given a box of equipment and a 3D model of the course they are building their robot to compete on. These boxes include different types of wood, PVC pipes, gears, rope, electronics to make the robot drive and any other items that the BEST Robotics company chooses to provide for each team. All these boxes have the exact same amount of material and they are strictly only allowed to use what was provided in the box. They also have to decide if they are going to compete for the BEST award, which is an award for the best overall booth, marketing presentation, robot, and notebook. Or compete for just the robot and notebook.These kids then have 6 weeks before the local competition in their area to come up with and build a robot that they think will be able to compete on the driving course.

2. 6 Week time limit

After the kids receive their box of stuff, they have 6 weeks to build and drive their robot. Most clubs will spend 3 - 5 days a week after school brainstorming, designing, building and driving their robot. Although there is no practice course they are allowed to practice on, in this time, it is important to ensure everything is functioning normally. Another part of the program is having a notebook that shows the process of the robot being built, a marketing presentation to "sell" your robot to the judges, and a booth to display the previous time spent on the club. At the end of the 6 weeks, there is a local competition, which gets us into our next number on the list...

3. Local Competition

Legend High School Qualifies to Regionals in Arkansas

The local competition, as stated before, takes place at a high school that is willing to host it. The gym is set up with the course and there are about 20 school competing from the surrounding area. The goal at locals is to qualify to make it to qualify for regionals. This can be done by either scoring in the top 3 on the scoreboard, or having made it to top 3 overall for your presentation of the booth, robot, and notebook.

4. Getting Getting Ready for Regionals

This is just as big as a step as it is to compete. The teams that qualified to go to regionals have 9 weeks to change their robot with the same supplies first sent out, and to make any revisions to the booth, notebook, and marketing presentation. Teams can re-build their robot completely, not change it at all, modify it a little, or do whatever the can do to make it better. Same with the booth. The BEST Robotics provides a practice course to the teams that qualified. Since regionals are usually pretty far away, in order to get there, it is very common to get sponsors to help pay for the trip.

5. Preparing at Regionals

Legend High School Setting up Their Booth for the BEST Award

When a team finally gets to regionals, they have multiple courses they can practice on, and two days before the actual competition to again make changes to the robot. It is risky to make big changes with so little time, but it can be done. If teams are lucky, they can set up their practice course in their hotel so they can have a place to practice as long as they want. Booth set up is 2 days before the actual competition, and the marketing / booth presentations are the day before. Both these are very large parts in the score if going for the BEST award.

6. The Regionals Competition

Legend High School Driver Mitchell Getting Ready to Drive

The regionals competition consists of the marketing and booth presentations, but mainly the robot competition. There are about 40 schools that participate, and there are two competition courses so 8 teams can compete at a time. There are about 20 rounds before qualifying to the semi finals, which then goes down to finals, an the best robot. There is a lot of pressure for the drivers, and the BEST Robotics company can change the course up to 1/4 of an inch in certain spots, which can result in teams doing poorly.

Legend High School Marketing Team Getting Ready to Present

7. Awards

After the regionals competition, there is an award ceremony announcing a bunch of different trophies and prizes for the teams. These include; BEST Award, best robot, most team spirit, best marketing and booth presentations, etc. Out of 38 schools, it is very difficult to win an award, but that is the part of the game that everyone plays for. During this time, the BEST company shows a preview for the next year's theme, which sends everyone out of there looking forward to the next year.

8. Season Wrap up

While the fun of the season is over, the teams still have to dis-assemble the robot, and send back all the materials the BEST company wants back. This can take a day or two, and everyone is happy from how great they did that year with the robot club.

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