Photo courtesy of Melissa Scott.
OMHS students at last year’s BEST robotics competition.
Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology (BEST) Robotics was founded in 1993 when Ted Mahler and Steve Marum of Texas Instruments saw a video of high school students building a robot at MIT.
BEST is a competition where robots are designed to have the ability to carry out specific tasks. Mahler and Marum thought this might attract more students into the field of engineering. The first BEST competition had 14 teams when it began, and it has exploded to 875 teams in 2012 throughout the country in 16 different states.
Blazer BEST at the University of Alabama at Birmingham began in 2008 and includes many local middle and high schools.
The Oak Mountain High School team has had great success there, being promoted to the South’s BEST competition eight years in a row, and making it to the world competition one of those years.
As the end of the school year approached in 2016, UAB announced that it would no longer be hosting the Blazer BEST competition. Nearly 30 teams were displaced and many of those teams simply dissolved.
This seemed like the fate of the Oak Mountain team as well, when its sponsoring teacher was transferred to another school.
Fortunately, Central Alabama BEST in Talladega graciously welcomed Oak Mountain High Tech Solutions into their hub, and teacher Tommy Hayes agreed to be their sponsor.
The unveiling of the course and the challenge for the year was issued Sept. 24 at Munford High School. This year’s game is called “Bet the Farm,” and it focuses on technological and robotic applications in farming. The purpose is to build a robot that can plant, irrigate and harvest corn, to corral and feed pigs, and to pick hydroponically grown tomatoes and lettuce and bring them to market.
To research one of the methods of growing crops, members of the team visited Hydro Ponics in Pelham to learn more about hydroponic farming. While they were there, the members were able to ask all sorts of questions about hydroponics to learn the ins and outs of this unique farming technique.
Oak Mountain competed with 14 other teams for two spots in the South’s BEST competition on Dec. 3 in Auburn and was named a finalist in robotics and received first place for most photogenic robot.
– Submitted by Melissa Scott.