BEST Robotics Inc, boosting engineering, science, and technology, is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization that hosts middle school and high school robotics competitions with a mission to engage and excite students about STEM fields.
UALR hosts the competition the first Saturday of Nov. every year, hoping to increase the number of participants with every competition.
As one of three hubs remaining in Arkansas, UALR supports a large number of teams and looks forward to donations so that it can continue to sponsor a vast amount of students.
In 2016, UALR sponsored 26 teams with students coming from Arkansas, Kansas, Oklahoma, Alabama and Mississippi. Each team was provided with a kit six weeks in advance to prepare for the competition.
Each kit, which costs about $1700, includes all of the necessary tools for students to begin building their robots. Because schools participate in the competition at no cost, a burden is lifted and teams can focus solely on getting things prepared for the big day.
Each year, the BEST organization comes up with a new theme to keep students excited, so the past year’s theme was farming. Once students made it to the competition, they entered the Jack Stephens Center to find the basketball court transformed into two corn fields.
As the competition was set to begin, students displayed their exhibits, turned in their notebooks, did some fine-tuning on their robots, and turned their game faces on.
“There’s something for each student in this competition,” said Vernard Henley, assistant dean of the college. “A team may not have the best robot, but they could have a great notebook. This gives every team a better opportunity to win.”
Like every other year, students had a blast at the competition. They were entertained by the Little Rock Central High School band and dance team along with a number of school mascots.
Thanks to Henley and Ashley Henry, senior recruitment and outreach coordinator, BEST Robotics will continue to be a huge success. For more information, contact Henry at firstname.lastname@example.org. To view the winners of the competition, click here.