BEST Robotics contest continues in virtual mode

Grove City College BEST Robotics kicks off Saturday, Sept. 19 as scores of students from area middle and high schools get materials to begin work on their animatronic entries for this year’s contest, which is being held virtually.

The competition, now in its 11th year at the College is part of BEST Robotics, Inc., a nationwide non-profit, volunteer organization whose mission is to engage, excite and inspire young people to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology through competition. The program, which is sponsored by Elliott Group of Jeannette, Pa., is free and open to all students of public, private and home schools. Students from more than a dozen area schools are expected to take part in the competition.

The pandemic has forced BEST to adjust to a virtual environment and provided inspiration for this year’s contest, which is built around the theme “Outbreak.”

“In a stroke of genius by our game committee, the theme for this fall is the use of robots in medical procedures. We won’t build a nanobot to kill the corona virus this fall, but one of our students might someday. This is a time to recognize the great need for trained and talented people in all the STEM fields - and that’s what we aim to provide,” Dr. Mike Bright, chair and professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Grove City College who serves as chairman of the BEST board of directors, said.

Instead of gathering together in the College’s arena, students will build their robots and compete in game day from their schools via livestream. In the BEST competition, students tasked with building a robot to perform specific tasks as a scenario plays out. Material to build the robots and the “playing field” are provided by Elliot Group and BEST.

In addition to building a robot, BEST teams make marketing presentations detailing their robot’s design, construction and mission. They also write engineering notebooks and construct team exhibits. Teams are judged both on the performance of their robots and these presentations.

Game Day is Nov. 21.

Participating schools include: Clarion High School; Franklin High School; Riverside High School; Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy; Mentor Christian School; Union Area High School; Christian Life Academy; Redbank Valley High School; Family Instructors of the Northern Suburbs; Bishop Canevin High School (new team this year; Redeemer Luther Christian School; and Cornerstone Christian Prep; Cranberry Area High School; and West Middlesex High School.

BEST Robotics contest continues in virtual mode

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