New SMS robotics team headed to competition

Published 10:50 pm Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Students in the first-ever Straughn Middle School robotics team will test their skills at a robotics competition in Dothan Saturday.

The students are competing in the BEST Robotic Competition through the Wiregrass BEST Robotics organization.

BEST (boosting engineering, science and technology) is a nonprofit organization that teaches students the fundamentals of abstract thinking, teamwork, problem solving, engineering, science and technology.

“This is fully funded unit sponsored by different companies that give students in middle and high school the opportunity to learn more about engineering, science, tech, problem solving and marketing,” program sponsor and SMS history teacher Barry Wood said. “This is our first year, and our students are really enjoying competing at this level.”

The students will be competing in the BEST Robotic Competition at the Ozark Civic Center on Sat., Nov. 8

Wood said that students were given basic tools to build a robot and then a series of tasks that the constructed robot must perform. The concept this year was to create an environmentally friendly robot to help in the building of a wind turbine.

The students were also divided into sections to work on different portions of the concept, which included the design and programming of the robot, the marketing plan to sell the product, design of the presentation for the competition, the documentation of the construction process and design of a logo to be used on the robot and material.

Wood said there are 25 students in the program and each has a responsibility to the team.

“Every student has a component in this program,” Wood said. “It gives them an opportunity to stretch their legs in something different.”

Madeline Pugh said she has been working with a group of students on the presentation and information that will be used at the exhibit.

“We’ve worked on a booth presentation, business cards and posters demonstrating the step-by-step process of the design,” Pugh said. “Our robot can pick up different objects, turn knobs and go up inclines.”

Pugh said she has enjoyed learning how to work in a team environment, and how to present information.

Marketing Chairperson Avery Bates said her group has been working on a marketing plan to sell the robot to the public, and she said the process really requires a team effort.

The marketing team has also designed a website for people to follow the progress of there project,

There will be four students operating the robot during the competition and four supporters.

Chairperson for the robot operations is Bryan Miller, and he said he basically makes sure everyone is performing their task in the program. Miller is also the chief programmer for the tasks the robot makes.

The competition is Sat., Nov. 8, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Ozark Civic Center.

There are 15 other schools participating in the competition including Admiral Moorer Middle School, Bullock County Technology Center, Carroll High, Cottonwood High, Dale County Christian School, Dothan High, Dothan Technology Center, Eufaula High, Houston Academy, Pike Liberal Arts School, Providence Christian, Rehobeth Middle School, Wicksburg High and Troy-Pike Technology Center.