The BEST competition was created by two Texas Intruments engineers in 1993. The first competition only included 14 schools. Since then however, the competition has grown substantially now including over six hundred schools and eleven thousand students around the country.
Every year BEST designs a new challange for high school students to tackle. Each school is provided a kit of materials. The teams are restricted to this kit and cannot use any other materials to build with. The kits usually include PVC, wood, motors, screws, and other miscellaneous items.
The goal of BEST is to encourage high school sudents in the fields of engineering, science, and technology. Through the season students find out what a career in engineering is like and practical uses for math and physics. They also aquire life skills in leadership, decision making, and communication.
This year Wichita Homeschool Warriors Robotics has been given the challenge to design and manufacture a robot that can accomplish the strenuous task of a firefighter. The game field is split into four sections. During a round one team is assigned to each section. There are three objectives the robot can complete to score points: succesfully rescue "Manny" the manikin, safely remove chemical drums from the Hot Zone, and by extinguishing the fire. Each objective is worth a different amount of points, with rescuing the manikin being the highest.
We start off the competition by reading both the generic and game specific rules finding what is and isn't allowed. After every student has a solid understanding of the rules we move on to brainstorming. During brainstorming every student's idea is analyzed no matter how silly it may seem. These ideas are then voted down until there are only one or two designs remaining.
After the team has decided on a few robot ideas, they are ready to begin building. The Robot side is devided into subteams which work on specific parts of the robot such as the wheels, chassis, arm, and claw. Meanwhile on the BEST side, students are breaking out into their respective subteams such as booth, notebook, website, spirit, presentation, and CAD.
By the third Saturday of the competition our team has a robot that is ready to be tested. We experiment with the robot on the game field to learn where our robot both excels and fails. The students will then hold a design review meeting to discuss how we should improve the robot.
Work on the robot steadily continues as Practice Day nears. The brainstormed improvements made during the design review are now applied to the robot. The notebook subteam also nears completion as the deadline for the notebook is on Practice Day.
On Practice Day our team is finally able to see how our robot compares to the robots of the other teams. It is fascinating to see the unique ideas each team uses on their robot. After the event has ended the team holds another design review to discuss what changes need to be made in order to compete against the other teams.
Finally the day has arrived to compete! While a few students drive the robot on the game floor the team stands in the bleachers cheering them on. This is what the team has been working nonstop for - to make it clear that our team has built the best robot possible. Win or lose we give all the glory to God.
BEST Side Leader
Robot Side Leader
These are the students who run the team day to day. They have the final say in what happens on the robot and BEST sides of the team. They are also in charge of keeping the team motivated and on task.