STEM team wins BEST Award

Published 6:20 pm Thursday, April 15, 2021

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The BEST Robotics Team from the Pike County STEM Academy was awarded its trophies for the BEST Robotics competition held at Troy University.

The team won several awards at the competition back in November, but the coronavirus pandemic delayed the awards presentation until a later date. The team was finally able to receive their awards lat week.

Overall, the team captured the BEST Award, the top team honor, as well as a first place award for the engineering notebook, second place in web page design, first place in critical robot design, first place in marketing presentation, and first place in interviews and presentation.

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“This is the third year we’ve participated in the competition and we won first place,” STEM instructor and team sponsor Amy Garrett said. “All of our students are from Goshen High School and Pike County High School. All of the students are also participating in the STEM Academy, so we had a lot of experience in robotics and design.”

BEST stands for Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology and was designed by engineers at Texas Instruments. In the competition, students are given a box of parts and have to build their robot by only using what’s in the box. Each year, the students have to build a robot to overcome the difficulties of a different scenario.

This year’s scenario was based on the coronavirus pandemic and students had to design a robot that could operate on a course and separate infected, uninfected and previously vaccinate subjects, and then deliver a vaccine to the uninfected subjects.

“This year’s course came from the pandemic,” Demarcus Sankey said. “The whole game field was based on the pandemic. There were blocks that represented the infected and we had to isolate those blocks so the infection didn’t spread. Then we had to use the robot to deliver the vaccine.”

Gabrielle Leveque said the competition gave students a lot of real world experience because there were a lot of different ways students could participate in the challenge.

The scenario required the students to handle all aspects of the project that would take place in the real world development of a robot.

Leveque said students had teams that were responsible for all aspects of project management, including design, fundraising, sportsmanship, community outreach, marketing presentation, engineering notebook, building and construction and project management. 

The team was sponsored by Pond Stocker II, South Alabama Electric Cooperative, First South Farm Credit and First Citizens Bank.

The competition at Troy University was sponsored by Lockheed Martin, Troy University ACCESS, Troy University College of Education, McDonald’s, Dr. Kirk L. Davis, Folmar Consulting Firm, Ray Allen, CB&E, Crown Trophy, South Alabama Electric Cooperative, Wesley Killingsworth and Wallace Pump & Supply.