It didn’t take long for Roger Langowski from Athens to understand why earplugs were for sale Saturday at the Tennessee Valley Boosting Engineering Science and Technology (BEST) robotics competition.
When Langowski entered the gymnasium at Calhoun Community College to watch his son’s Lindsay Lane Christian Academy robotics team, the noise from the cheering crowd was deafening.
Hundreds of competitors and their families jumped and screamed in excitement as they rooted for their favorite robotics team.
“It’s more than what I expected,” Langowski said. “I expected it to be a more tame event, but it has been nowhere near tame.”
The BEST competition brought 16 teams from across north Alabama and Tennessee to Calhoun. DARC, a team of Austin and Decatur high school students, won the BEST award and advanced to the regional competition at Auburn University in December.
BEST runner-up Athens Bible School and Lindsay Lane, first-place finisher in the robotics team category, will join DARC in Auburn where they will compete against robots from neighboring states and schools from as far as Connecticut.
Austin High School teacher and Decatur Austin Robotics Coalition team sponsor Susan Haddock said the students will rest for a few days before getting back to work Thursday to prepare for the regional competition Dec. 1-2.
“There’s a lot of pressure on them because they’ve won so much that they feel they have to win every year,” she said. “They had an issue with a robot in the semifinals, but knew if they didn’t win the BEST award, they wouldn’t go to Auburn. They’re relieved, excited and thankful all at the same time.”
The theme of the competition was space elevator, where teams designed and built robots that transported cargo and equipment to space using a model space elevator tower that traveled beyond the earth’s atmosphere.
The robots are constructed from materials such as PVC pipe, wood and a motor and remote control supplied by BEST.
Head referee Ed Green has spent the last six years working at the annual robotics competition and said it has a “broad spectrum of appeal” for students.
“I like the fact that it gives students the opportunity to participate in a team and has something for both tech people and non-tech people.” he said.
Decatur resident Steve Frick’s 12-year-old son, James, competed with Decatur’s middle school robotics team for the first time at Calhoun.
Frick said a pep rally was held about two months ago that revealed details about the robotics competition. Competitors then had up to 10 weeks to design, build and practice using the robots before Saturday’s event.
“I think it’s fantastic,” Frick said. “I like that it gets kids exposed to basic engineering problem-solving skills in a fun atmosphere.”
James was thrilled that his team finished second in the robotics competition category.
“It’s really fun. You get to make new friends, and it’s just fun to get to make the robots,” he said.
Area teams also won several first-place awards presented at the end of the competition, including Decatur Austin Robotics Coalition (DARC) for the founders award for creative design; Lindsay Lane Christian Academy for most robust; Lindsay Lane for most elegant; DARC for most photogenic; Lindsay Lane for the Igus TOP GUN award; DARC for safety; Bob Jones High for best T-shirt; Bob Jones for web page design; Priceville High for the SolidWorks CAD design; DARC for the BEST award; DARC for team exhibit design and construction award; DARC for project engineering notebook; Athens Bible School for marketing presentation; Lindsay Lane for spirit and sportsmanship; Lindsay Lane for robotics competition.
|High School Sports||@DecaturPreps|