Students converge on Trinidad State for annual robotics competition
Trinidad Campus / October 31, 2016 / Written by Greg Boyce
From Manzanola to Raton, from Branson to Antonito, southern Colorado high school and middle school students converged on Trinidad State on October 22 for a rowdy robot rumble. It’s part of a national science effort called BEST (Boosting Engineering Science and Technology).
Each team – a total of 10 this year – had six weeks to take a stack of plywood and plastic, motors and gears, and a remote control and turn it into a mobile work horse. The theme this year is Bet the Farm. A 24-foot-square game field is divided into four quadrants, allowing up to four teams to compete simultaneously during intense three-minute rounds. Teams rack up points by turning levers, rounding up rubber pigs, and harvesting simulated corn, lettuce and tomatoes. At week five teams get a chance to try out their robot at a practice day, then they have seven days to make modifications and plan strategy before the main event. Teams are also encouraged to build exhibits to show their design process. Those displays are judged separately. Awards are also given for Creative Design, Most Robust Machine, Sportsmanship, Software Design and best new entry.
“You can feel the excitement, and you can see learning happening,” said Trinidad State President Dr. Carmen Simone. Schools bring their cheerleaders and family members show up to yell encouragement. In this intense setting designs are tested and construction flaws are exposed. Sometimes the wheels fall off – literally. Top teams must display not only driving skill (think video games), but point strategy.
It takes more than $20,000 and upwards of 70 volunteers to pull this off. The only cost to schools is travel. The robot kits are provided to each school at no cost. Trinidad State student Isabelle Vinson donned a striped referee shirt for the day. “I actually got wrangled into it by one of my friends at the last minute. It’s the most fun I’ve had all semester. This is awesome!”
“I had students come up to me both practice day and game day and personally thank me and the committee members for putting this all together,” said event Co-Director Shannon Shiveley. “It’s really good that the community is seeing how positive this is for our students.” Until now part of the funding has come from a grant, which is expiring. Trinidad State will be looking for more community sponsors to help fund next year’s event.
A team from Raton, made up of 7th through 11th graders, dominated this year. The Raton team took home first place trophies in four of the seven categories. Two teams qualified for the regional BEST competition to be held December 2 and 3 in Fort Smith, Arkansas. They are Raton and Manzanola.
(this is for the displays and notebooks showing the design methodology)
3. Trinidad Middle School
Game Awards (this is the performance part of the competition)
4. Trinidad Middle School
Most Robust Machine
Trinidad Middle School
Software Design and Simulation
Rookie Team Award