Hundreds of student robot builders from more than 20 schools around the region will descend on the campus of Grove City College this weekend for the Grove City College BEST Robotics competition.
The ‘bot building battle tests high- and middle-school students’ problem solving abilities and engineering skills while encouraging students to find the fun in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education.
The competition, now in its ninth year at the College and previously known as Wolverine BEST, 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 is free and open to all students of public, private and home schools.
The action begins at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26 in the IM Room in the Physical Learning Center (PLC) on campus where 22 student teams set up trade-show style displays featuring their robots and make marketing presentations detailing their robot’s design, construction and mission.
The robots will be put to the ultimate test from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27 in the PLC’s College Arena. Game day resembles a high-energy athletic contest, with teams of students massed on the sidelines, referees clad in black and white stripes and the stands filled with team supporters, school mascots and even pep bands.
This year’s theme, Current Events, challenges the robot builders with gathering and recycling plastic pollution from garbage gyres in the ocean. The gyres, for purposes of the game, are wide baskets filled with plastic bottles and golf balls that the student-designed and -built robots will pick up and move.
Teams are judged both on the performance of their robots and the strength of their marketing presentations.
Grove City College serves as a BEST Hub in order to provide high- and middle-school students an opportunity to learn more about engineering and technology by solving a real world problem while mixing it with the fun of a competition. In addition, BEST Robotics provides a venue that enables students to see that in addition to the design work, engineering also involves marketing, teamwork and detailed documentation through an engineering notebook. Hosting the competition also enables hundreds of students to visit and experience the Grove City College campus and interact with student volunteers who staff the competition.
Twenty-two school groups from western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio are participating in the competition. They are: Altoona High School, Christ the Divine Teacher Catholic Academy, Christian Life Academy, Clarion Area High School, Commodore Perry High School, Cornerstone Prep, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, Eden Christian Academy, Ellwood City High School, Franklin Area Junior/Senior High School, Family Instructors of the North Suburbs, Grove City Area Homeschoolers, Grove City High School, Grove City Middle School, Holy Trinity School, Kennedy Catholic High School, Mohawk High School, Plum Senior High School, Redeemer Lutheran School Sharpsville High School, Slippery Rock High School, West Middlesex High School and Union Area High School.
Materials are provided by sponsors, including the Elliott Group, a Jeannette, Pa.,-based company that designs, manufacturers and services turbomachinery for a global clientele. Grove City College BEST organizers continue to seek sponsors for the ongoing effort. Anyone interested in sponsoring BEST should contact the Office of Development at Grove City College at 724-458-2991.