Robots Teach Kids; Tate Takes ‘Blood, Sweat And Duct Tape Award’

October 24, 2010

Cheering fans, blaring instruments, and pounding drums — you may think of a football or soccer game. But this is no sports event. It’s a game of the future.

On Saturday morning the University of West Florida Field House buzzed with activity and the Emerald Coast BEST Robotics competition whirred to a start.

The futuristic competition plays out in an arena setting complete with referees, cheerleaders, mascots and cheering students. A deafening din fills the air as 21 area high schools and middle schools compete with their robots, all a part of an initiative to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology. Gulf Power Company is the major sponsor of BEST — Boosting, Engineering, Science and Technology.

This year’s theme, “Total Recall,” is a word play on quality control. In the competition, students will control their robots to successfully process and package as much “good” product as possible while striving for Six Sigma quality levels on each production line. Some products may be identified as “defective” and will be “recalled.”

It’s all a part of an initiative to inspire students to pursue careers in engineering, science and technology through participation in a sports-like, science and engineering-based robotics competition each fall. Student teams are judged on robot performance, marketing presentation, team exhibit/interview, project engineering notebook, and spirit and sportsmanship.

Josh King, eleventh grader from Escambia High School, said the competition helped him realize how important science and math are to the real world.

“To get ready for this you have to use the whole engineering design process,” said King. “It starts with brainstorming, then design, then prototype and then final product. We really had fun out there.”

King plans to pursue an Architectural Engineering degree at the University of West Florida.

King’s teacher and lead for the Robotics Club Bob Rainey said BEST helps get the students excited about science and math.

“They have to apply their skills in math and science and engineering,” said Rainey. “This is something really authentic the students can get involved with. BEST Robotics prepares them because everything in life is going to be a project for them, and they’re going to have to overcome problems.”

Max Levesque (pictured left), a sixth grader and part of the team from Workman Middle School that won first place in the robotics competition, said involvement in robotics had given him a greater interest in math.

“This is something different than what I usually do in school,” said Levesque, “I actually kind of like math more now.”

Introduced by two MIT students, BEST — Boosting Engineering Science and Technology — has grown into a nationally recognized competition challenging more than 50,000 participants since its start in 1993.

Area schools have been competing since 2004, when Gulf Power sponsored eight local teams in the regional competition in Mobile. Twenty schools across Northwest Florida participated in the regionals, and the top schools will advance to competition at Auburn University.

Students had six weeks to build their robots and teams were judged on robot performance, oral presentation, table display, project notebook, spirit and sportsmanship.

Four schools in Northwest Florida were among the winners that will advance to the finals at Auburn University on Nov. 18 – 20: Woodlawn Middle School, Bethlehem K-12, Workman Middle and Woodham Middle.

BEST Award
1. Woodham Middle School
2. Woodlawn Beach Middle School
3. Seaside Neighborhood Middle School

Gulf Power- Blood, Sweat and Duct Tape Award
Tate High School

Robotics Award
1. Workman Middle School
2. Bethlehem K-12
3. Milton High School
4. Woodham Middle

Best Team Website
Seaside Neighborhood Middle School

Best T-shirt Design
1. Hobbs Middle School
2. Sims Middle School
3. Woodham Middle School

Founders Award for Creative Design
Seaside Neighborhood Middle School

Most Robust Robot
Workman Middle School

Most Photogenic Robot
Merritt Brown Middle School

Most Elegant Machine
Milton High School

Best Team Exhibit and Interview
1. Holley Navarre Middle School
2. Woodlawn Beach Middle School
3. Merritt Brown Middle School

Best Marketing Presentation
1. Woodham Middle School
2. Holley-Navarre Middle School
3. Woodlawn Beach Middle School

Best Project Engineering Notebook
1. Bethlehem K-12
2. Woodlawn Beach Middle School
3. Seaside Neighborhood Middle School

Best Spirit and Sportsmanship
1. Woodham Middle School
2. Seaside Neighborhood Middle School
3. Sims Middle School

Courtesy photos for, click to enlarge.


5 Responses to “Robots Teach Kids; Tate Takes ‘Blood, Sweat And Duct Tape Award’”

  1. latia on March 11th, 2011 10:51 pm

    i love robotics. The team thinks very hard on the robots Nd things they make!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. James Bishir on October 25th, 2010 12:40 pm

    Thank you for your coverage and support. If anyone is interested in sponsoring our robotics team please contact Woodham Middle School or email me It takes a lot of money to travel and stay overnight at Auburn for the championships.

    Also, if you have a high resolution picture of the picture of our team in your article I’d love to have it.


    James Bishir
    Robotics Coach
    Woodham Middle

  3. conclusions on October 24th, 2010 10:15 pm

    Way to go kids!!! This was a fun day for the kids, parents, and cheerleaders!!! It’s good to see kids involved with school activities at such a young age!!

  4. great on October 24th, 2010 9:50 am

    Typed wrong in a hurry answer should have been 224. Would not let me go back to correct. The point is one year teach learn by sight next year draw and break numbers down. I hope the lower grades will not have a much trouble as the upper elementary grade levels. This new math should not have been put in place when a student has learned to to math a certain way for 4 out of 5 years of elementary school years. Should have started a k level worked up. I . Children need to be excited about learning looks like the students are!!!! Thanks as always William Great job students !!!!!

  5. great on October 24th, 2010 9:28 am

    This is great for the students. I hope this will spark more interest in math. The new math that was started this year at the elementary grade level in Flordia is very hard on the students What happen to memorizing math facts. The students now have to draw circles and groups. I have a student sat elementary level this is the way they learn to multiply 28×8 20×8 =160 + 8×8=64 add 160+64=324

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