GHS takes second at robotics contest

Published 4:13 pm Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology (BEST) Robotics competition has a habit of attracting the attention of the most talented students from around the state and, eventually, the country.

This year, a group of Greenville High School students went not as spectators, but as participants, and they walked away with a second place overall finish for their troubles.

Though the students of GHS had been visiting the competition for years, 2013 marked the first year the group actually competed.

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The BEST Robotics game day is a national six-week competition held each fall for students interested in the field of engineering.

Greenville High School’s local competition hub was located in Selma, and the winners there advance to Auburn and onward to the national competition.

GHS teacher and team overseer William Champion said that he went to the competition with no intentions of participating, but he’s glad he did.

“We went not even expecting to compete, really, but (the people at the competition) talked me into letting my students compete anyway,” Champion said.

“When we found out what the expectation was, we had 42 days to design, build and create a robot, including doing an engineering notebook and a marketing notebook selling that robot as if a company built it.  There is a lot of stuff involved with it.”

Best Robotics is further broken down into two separate events—a robotics competition, in which teams contend for the most points scored in a series of head-to-head battles, and the BEST award, which involves composing a notebook that touches on everything from the technical aspect of the robot’s creation to the hypothetical marketing methods used for selling the robot to a potential buyer.

The BEST award also calls for an interview and an oral presentation to a panel of judges.

The team-oriented nature of the competition and the focus on developing and contributing a variety of skills to the task is what partially inspired Champion to compete.

“One of the skills that the students used was marketing, where they created a notebook which basically was the selling of the robot,” Champion added.

“Richard Starks was over the marketing while me and my students designed and built the robot, and he did an exceptionally great job.”

In fact, the competition inevitably boiled down to the BEST award, with Greenville High School taking second place to Morgan Academy’s marketing notebook by just one point.

And though the students didn’t walk away with top honors, the value of the students seeing their work literally come to life before their eyes was a far more valuable experience than any textbook or classroom could allow.

“When you’re dealing with the x,y and z axes with a robot, a lot of the time you’re using the Cartesian Plane,” Champion said.

“It’s all about exposing the kids to math, science and technology, and learning how it all comes together.”