In my second year of graduate school and a couple of months in with FIRST Robotics, I learned that our group volunteered and helped host something called “BEST Robotics”. I got a glimpse of BEST on game day in a gym of a local high school and I instantly fell in love with the simplicity of this program. It was a sight to watch middle school and high school students competing on the field with their friends and families cheering them on. An outsider would probably assume there was a basketball game going on!
BEST robotics became an annual event for me and I acted as the event coordinator two years in a row. I hosted programming workshops on how to use EASYC and ROBOTC. I made it a priority to head out to schools and work with the students one on one to solve any issues they were facing. All those who hosted the event put in their time and effort to ensure a successful season year after year. Over the summer, our group would assemble 20-25 “kit of parts” or “KOPs” which included your everyday home depot supplies such as wood, PVC pipes, nuts, bolts and other more complex electronics from VEX (http://www.vexrobotics.com/best). Another group would build the game field, work on recruiting volunteers and find funding to organize the event. A mass of college students, student organizations and the FIRST Robotics team 1817 members, along with the support of professors, corporate sponsors and parents would put in hours and hours to ensure the BEST events would be conducted with no issues. In the Fall and on kickoff day, the school teams would be shown the challenge and they would be handed their assigned KOP. They have six weeks to build a robot which can complete the given challenge. A couple of weeks in would be a “trial run”, where they can come out to the field and test their robots. And finally game day, where they compete and the winner goes off to the national level competition.
In addition to building a robot, the teams would have to document their engineering process in their “engineering notebooks”, build booths and give a presentation to the judges on how they have helped the community in creating more STEM education awareness. Its always more than just building robots. The six weeks of building incorporates a large amount of teamwork, confidence building, public speaking and creativity.
BEST Robotics stands for Boosting Engineering Science and Technology (http://www.bestinc.org/). As a national level robotics organization, their hubs are spread across the United States. The registration cost of starting a BEST team in your middle school or high school is low compared to any other robotics programs. This makes BEST robotics an affordable and convenient program for those schools who wish to bring robotics and engineering to their students but are financially restricted.
How to start a BEST Team
You can find a hub in your state easily in the following link and contact the hub director to register a new team or find information regarding the process:
More information on how to register a team can be found at:
How to volunteer at BEST
The majority of the BEST events not only require volunteers, but mentors who can help the school teams during the build season or even sponsors who wish to support a team. If you think you have the skills, not only technical but non-technical as well, to help BEST teams or events, I would strongly encourage to contact your hub director for details.
BEST Robotics is surely one of the “best” robotics programs out there and is a great way to introduce robotics and teamwork to your kids. Many students need proper guidance, and only with the right steps can that be provided.
Image courtesy of –
FIRST Robotics team 1817 – Llano Estacado RoboRaiders, Lubbock, Texas