Boosting technology: Robot competition set SaturdayStudents from area middle schools and high schools are fine-tuning their robots for the first BEST Robotics competition in Dickinson. BEST — Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology — is a national six-week robotics competition held each fall in the United States to interest students in possible engineering careers.
By: Linda Sailer, The Dickinson Press
Students from area middle schools and high schools are fine-tuning their robots for the first BEST Robotics competition in Dickinson.
BEST — Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology — is a national six-week robotics competition held each fall in the United States to interest students in possible engineering careers.
“It’s an amazing event,” said Trinity High School robotics team coach Kasey Kessel. “You get the plywood, pipe, screws and nuts — the raw materials — now go build a robot.”
The finale begins with displays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday at Trinity High School. The competition is from 1-5 p.m.
The public is encouraged to support their favorite team’s robot, as points are awarded for sportsmanship, said Kessel.
The BEST competition began in 1993 in Sherman, Texas, and has spread to hubs across the United States, she said.
Dickinson’s event began with an opening ceremony on Sept. 3 at Dickinson State University. The students were introduced to the rules and given the materials for the robots.
DSU launched the BEST Robotics competition with STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) funding, said Dr. Paul Jonanson, chairman of the DSU Department of Math and Computer Science. He will serve as the head judge for the competition.
“Right now, we have 17 entries from southwestern North Dakota and one from Montana,” he said. “If it’s done right, it’s really exciting.”
Students learn engineering skills and the design process of building a robot, he said.
“What people don’t realize is that engineers sometimes fail and go back to the drawing board — that’s part of the process,” he said.
Judging is based on construction and operation of the robot, documentation of every change made to the robot, the exhibit and interview, marketing and sportsmanship (may include a pep band, cheerleaders, mascot and T-shirts.)
“It’s a totally extracurricular activity — it’s totally on the kids’ time,” said Kessel.
The Trinity students have been working in the garage of assistant team coach Kris Keller.
Keller likes to describe the event as science art, where the students apply mechanical and electrical knowledge with “a boat-load of creativity.”
The robot is designed to collect various game pieces and put them into holding areas. The pieces, also called bugs, have different point values based on their difficulty, he said.
The competition is an opportunity for the public to observe what students are learning in school.
“It’s not my parents’ science class anymore,” said Keller.
The DHS team is coached by Desirae Tibor and each of the seven students have different responsibilities. For example, Kyle Pletan and Austin Maus built the robot, while Hibl works on marketing, interviews and the booth.
“We’ve been building robots for five years and this is an adaptation of those,” said Pletan.
The DHS team has arranged for a pep band and cheerleaders to attend the competition. Classmates also are encouraged to wear green, added Hibl.
The students expect it will be a long day — one they have anticipated for the last six weeks.