(Town Crier photo/Nan Snider)
Buffalo Island Central Robotics Club members are busy this week preparing for regional competition at Fort Smith on Nov.20. The BIC team was named state hub winner for the second consecutive year at Crowley's Ridge BEST (Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology) competition held at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro on Oct. 20.
BEST competitions originated in Texas in 1993, with 14 area high schools taking part in an area Engineering Day competition in Sherman, Tex. As interest grew new competition sites (called hubs) were started. Hubs now make up three regional BEST competitions, which include Texas BEST at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Tex., South's BEST at Auburn University, Auburn, Ala., and Frontier Trails BEST, at the University of Arkansas, in Fort Smith. Frontier Trails regionals are made up of 35 teams from nine different hubs.
BEST is a competition that promotes science, math and technology for students through direct participation. Because of this, students are solely responsible for all aspects of the challenge including design, documentation, construction and testing. To most effectively complete the tasks the BIC team is divided into committees, with many students participating on more than one committee.
The Robotic teams challenge for 2007 was to prepare a robot adequate enough to make the journey to Mars.
"In the beginning we started with a limited amount of supplies and an abundance of ideas," said BIC robotics sponsor and teacher Debbie Olive. "From there we put together our committees to help with the many tasks needed to design and construct a robot."
"The students spent many hours developing a prototype, testing it, and constructing a robot which could retrieve items of various sizes and weights from the surface of Mars," said co-sponsor Steve Brummett. "The robot is named SCAMMER, an acronym for Student Created Automated Motorized Mars Exploring Robot. It is equipped with a paddle which allows it to pick up numerous items at one time and then take them back to the storage bin. SCAMMER will prove itself to be invaluable to space exploration and in other scientific robot-based research."
"The Robotics team is divided into six working areas," Olive said. "The committees include presentation, operation, visual arts, administration, construction and notebook presentation. The students are committed to the team effort. They meet every Tuesday and Thursday afternoons from 4-8 p.m., at BIC Junior High, in Leachville, and then come back on Saturday and work from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. as needed. Bill Misner and Michael Beaird serve as mentors for the team. Many mothers take turns feeding the students as they work through their supper and noon meals. We also have several sponsors and businesses who donate money for expenses, along with food supplies. This is indeed a community project."
"The Robotics team members are dedicated to the effort," Brummett said. "They work hard as a team and as individuals. They take pride in their accomplishments, with good cause. Needless to say, we are very proud of them and how they have managed to make plans, do the construction, present displays, notebooks and give oral presentations.
"The Robotics team members are well rounded students, and I can see great leadership potential in them," Olive said.
BIC Robotics Club members include Charlye Ross, Colby Qualls, Michel Beaird, Josh Freeman, Katherine Clowers, Nicole Poe, Blake Feagin, Jessica Turner, Amy Renteria, Briana Collier, Hayley Sparkman, Greg Noyes, Devin Misner, Tony Hendrickson, Karla Marroquin, David Sims, Candido Ramirez, and Oscar Ramirez.
The BIC Robotics team webmaster is Tony Hendrickson, and the site is www.buffaloislandcentralrobotics.com.