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Posted on Jan 01, 2016 in Seaside Neighborhood School , Robotics competition , January-February 2016

Seaside Neighborhood School’s robotics team hit “Pay Dirt” in the South’s BEST Robotics Regional Championship at Auburn University. Photo courtesy Seaside Neighborhood School

Seaside Neighborhood School wins South’s BEST Robotics Regional Championship at Auburn University By Jen McAlexander

On Dec. 5 and 6, the top 55 teams from 15 BEST hubs in five states participated in the annual South’s BEST Robotics regional competition hosted by Auburn University. BEST, or Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology, is a national program that is a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization. The mission of BEST is to encourage students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics through participation in a sports-like robotics competition that promotes shared knowledge, teamwork and communication. Seaside Neighborhood School won the Emerald Coast BEST hub competition held in November in order to advance to the regional competition.

The Emerald Coast BEST hub is the only one in Florida and is funded completely by corporate and individual sponsorships. Sponsors for the 2015 competition included AT&T, Gulf Power, International Paper and the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. These sponsors provide each team with material kits to build the robots. There are no entry fees for students or schools to participate in BEST robotics competition.

This year’s competition entitled “Pay Dirt” challenged each team to design and build a robot to repair a simulated mine and retrieve its resources. The teams are evaluated using a number of categories including robot design, performance, aesthetic, team spirit and sportsmanship, marketing and presentation.

The most coveted award of the competition is the BEST award. To compete for this, students must provide an engineering notebook, give an oral marketing presentation, construct an educational exhibit, and show excellent team spirit and sportsmanship. BEST uses the excitement of robotics to teach engineering and business processes. Seaside Neighborhood School is the 2015 winner of the BEST award.

“The students are the leaders of this program. The teachers are not in charge,” says Courtney Crick, Seaside Science teacher. “We put them on committees based on their individual skill sets, and from there it’s their job to organize themselves, problem-solve and promote team work. They are self-regulating and take ownership of the project themselves. The kids are awesome!”

“You really learn a lot in the BEST competition,” says Trip Martin, Seaside 8th grade student, Oral Presentation and Spirit/Sportsmanship committee. “Public speaking, leadership, teamwork, and a lot about robots that I would never know. It’s a really cool experience. You learn a lot and it’s a lot of fun too.”

For additional information about the South’s BEST Regional Robotics championship, visit

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