Student robot builders from a dozen 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.
But it isn’t your typical science fair. Held in Grove City College’s Arena, BEST plays out like a sporting event, with hundreds of fans packing the bleachers to cheer on their teams. Some schools even send mascots and pep bands. Teams are judged on the performance of their robots and their ability to explain and market their efforts.
The action begins at 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11 when BEST teams make marketing presentations detailing their robot’s design, construction and mission during a trade show-like event in the College’s IM Room in the Physical Learning Center.
Game Day begins at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 12 in the Arena of the Physical Learning Center. This year’s theme is “Off the Grid,” and student teams are challenged to build robots that can help restore the electric grid after a disaster knocks it out.
Groups from 12 western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio school districts, private schools and homeschool groups are participating in the competition. They are: Christian Life Academy, Clarion Area School District, Commodore Perry School District, Cornerstone Prep, Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy, Ellwood City, FINS, Franklin Area School District, Grove City Area High School, Grove City Area Middle School, Riverside, and Union Area School District.
Winners of the Grove City College event will advance to the Denver BEST Regional Championship held on Dec. 7 and 8 in Denver, Colo.
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. 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.
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.
For more information about Grove City College BEST Robotics, visit www.gcc.edu/best.