Flawed robot becomes extreme teaching tool at recent contest for students.

Fifteen Pratt High School students took part in a BEST (Boosting Engineering Science and Technology) Robotics competition November 1 and 2 in Alva, Oklahoma, putting their engineering and ingenuity skills to the test.

"After realizing their robot was fatally flawed Friday, the students works through 1:30 a.m., arrived back at the venue at 6 a.m. on Saturday, and worked through an all-day competition to field a competitive robot Saturday," said USD 382 science sponsor Heith Sharp. "I am proud of the way this team worked to solve their engineering problems and how they treated each other under stress."

For a BEST Robotics event, teams take a large piece of plywood and a box filled with items such as PVC pipe, screws and other hardware, an irrigation valve cover, piano wire, aluminum paint grid, a bicycle inner tube, a BRAIN (BEST Robotics Advance Instruction Node programmable platform), and something called a micro-energy chain system. They have six weeks to design and build a functioning machine that can perform certain, specific tasks in 3 minutes.

The mission of a BEST competition is to engage and excite students about engineering, science, mathematics and technology, as well as inspire them to pursue careers in likely fields, through robotics design. Each fall, over 850 middle and high schools and over 18,000 students participate in the competition nationwide.

Through participation in Pratt High's project-based STEM program, USD 382 students are learning to analyze and solve problems utilizing the Engineering Design Process. This helps them develop technological literacy skills, sought by industry workforce employment experts.

Students from Pratt participating last week in Alva included Kai Carter, Trenton Dancaster, Beau Gilpin, Annika Larrison, Natalie Miller, Derrick Newby, Hogan Thompson, Nick Vail and Andrew Van Slyke. In addition, a marketing team presented the ideas and design on Friday. Those students were Kylee Nickelson, Olivia Pope, Kierra Messick, Caleb Hidalgo, Airam Fernandez and Kari Fox.

Other students who put in timely work but were unable to attend the competition were Brett Rennaker, Daniel Rodriguez, Carlos Garcia-Pedroza, Sebastian Polen, Stephanie Solis and Emily Vail.