Robotics competition builds teamwork

By Audra Delaney and By Audra Delaney

High school students from all across Northwest Ohio came together at the Stroh Center for the third annual Falcon BEST Robotics competition Saturday, Oct. 24.

BEST stands for Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology, and as far as robotics is concerned, only four different competitions like this one happen throughout the state.

There is much more that goes into robotics than just the creation of the robot itself. For this competition, high school students have to follow a prompt they are given and create a robot and a team that meets the challenges of the said prompt. This year’s prompt was that a mine had collapsed and they had to create a robot that would harvest the resources from the mine and create a way to sell or use those resources.

It is free for the schools to participate in this competition and they are given the products to build their robot. Before the actual “game day,” as it is referred to by the participants, there is a kick off day and a practice day. It is a six-week long process from start to finish.

“We used the products we were given and (that) we fundraised to purchase other items we needed for our project. We have people that work on building the robot, taking pictures of the process and creating the presentation. It is a lot of fun,” said St. Mary’s Central Catholic High School student Cole Sabolsky.

This competition is made up of three fields that include building the robot, programming it and marketing the resources it harvests.

“Each of the teams that compete at this event are judged based on how well their robot does and how well their presentation of their marketing strategies is, as well as their team spirit,” said Jessica Belcher, the registration and scoring director for the competition.

Many of the teams had their school mascots in attendance, and one school brought a small band, all to score points to help their team earn a place at regionals.

Teams are able to earn a spot at regionals in two ways, either by competing well with their robot or because of their programming, marketing, spirit, exhibit and robot performance combined, which is known as the BEST Award.

“Our team was able to place last year and go to the regional competition in Fargo, North Dakota. We are hoping to do that again,” said junior Kathryn Helminiak from St. Ursula Academy, standing next to her team’s exhibit as she was waiting to have her turn to meet with the judges.

This competition is hosted by the University and the Northwest Ohio Center for Excellence. Departments here at the University offer people to help judge, provide the participates and spectators with places to get food and offer the use of the Stroh Center throughout the deration of the competition.

Jessica Belcher summed up the competition by saying, “It allows for participation from many different kinds of high school kids. Some kids may be great at building the robot, while others may better at the marketing side of the competition. It gets them all involved in boosting engineering, science and technology in their own way.”