Area High-School Students Get 'Malled' for UC's Bearcat BEST

On Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm at the Cincinnati Museum Center, students get the chance to test the robots they built with the materials that they received on kick-off day at the University of Cincinnati.

Jointly sponsored by UC’s Colleges of Engineering and Applied Science, the third annual Bearcat BEST Robotics Competition offers junior and senior high school students the opportunity to compete for awards. This year’s theme is “2005: Mission to Hubble.”

On Mall Day, Oct. 15, the teams see the actual game floor for the first time. Then they have a week to tweak their designs before the big event. The competition culminates with a sports-like competition on Game Day, Oct. 22, from which the winners advance to the BEST regionals at Auburn, Ala. Bearcat BEST Game Day will be hosted this year by Summit Country Day School.

2005: Mission to Hubble

In June 2004, NASA announced that it would seek proposals to send a robot to service the Hubble telescope. The call went out to the robot experts of the world for a robot that could do the job. In 2005, BEST Robotics Incorporated answers that call. Students will be given the task of designing a robot capable of replacing the Hubble's aging batteries and gyroscopes. The robot must be also able to attach de-orbit rocket engines to the Hubble to allow for a controlled re-entry when its mission is finally concluded.

At kick-off, students heard this year's scenario.

At kick-off, students heard this year's scenario.

“Only the BEST robots can fly!” says the

BEST Web site

.

This is the third year that the University of Cincinnati’s College of Applied Science and College of Engineering have collaborated to sponsor the competition locally. Last year a school from Kentucky competed for the first time. This year has two firsts: schools from Indiana and even Michigan have entered the fray!

Each year the Bearcat BEST field has grown. In 2003, fewer than 8 teams competed. In 2004, 11 schools fielded 12 teams. In 2004, more than 150 students participated in “BEST Fever,” with Scott County and Roger Bacon high schools taking top honors. This year, 16 teams are competing in BEST 2005: Mission to Hubble.

The contenders

Students listen intently as the mission is explained.

Students listen intently as the mission is explained.

  • Davison (Mich.) High School
  • Glen Este High School
  • Hamilton Southeastern (Ind.) High School
  • Hughes High School
  • Live Oaks CDC
  • Loveland High School
  • Northwest Career Technology Center
  • Pike Academy of Science and Engineering (Ind.)
  • Purcell Marian High School
  • Roger Bacon High School
  • Saint Xavier High School
  • Scott County (Ky.) High School
  • Sycamore High School
  • NTA Sycamore High School Black Student Union
  • Western Hills Design Tech High School
  • Wyoming High School

Teachers scope out the task that their students face.

Teachers scope out the task that their students face.

The BEST Robotics Competition features teams of junior- and senior-high students who spend six weeks designing and constructing their robot from pre-packaged kits of materials, provided to them by UC. At the

kick-off, UC

provided all materials — boxes containing nuts, bolts, wheels, motor parts and other sundry useful items — to the competing schools. Mentors from UC and area professionals are teamed up with the schools to provide guidance and answer questions, but the students themselves must design and construct the robots.

BEST is the acronym for Boosting Engineering Science and Technology, a non-profit, volunteer organization whose goals include increasing the “pipeline” of future engineers, scientists, and technical professionals. Each fall more than 8,000 students (representing more than 700 middle and high schools) participate nation-wide.

A young woman student examines the set-up.

A young woman student examines the set-up.

Who will win? That’s anybody’s BEST guess.

For more information, call Cheryll Dunn at (513) 556-6561 or Ken Simonson at (513) 556-5437.

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