Thirty-five robotics teams from eight area competitions will be in Fort Smith on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 for the 2012 Frontier Trails BEST Regional Robotics Competition, hosted by the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith and the Fort Smith Convention Center.
The teams represent local hub competitions in Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. They advanced to the regional event from their local competitions held earlier and will meet for this round of the competition activities at the Fort Smith Convention Center, according to John Martini of Fort Smith, assistant professor at the University and director of the competition.
"Teams will begin arriving on Thursday, Nov. 29," said Martini, "and we have a very full schedule for the students who are visiting our city and our campus. The official opening ceremony for the robot game is at 8 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 1, with an ending awards ceremony at 5 p.m. This is a great event and something that the whole family would enjoy."
Martini said there is no admission charge.
"This is an event the entire community is invited to attend," he said. "You can come out at any time during the competition on either day. Some people spend the entire day with us. Once you're there, you're hooked. The competition is very exciting."
Each team designs and operates its own robot with a kit of materials supplied for the task, based on this year's theme, Warp XX. The theme is based on using a space elevator to re-supply a “mid-way station” at the edge of the earth’s atmosphere.
The robotics competitions are held around the nation under the BEST heading, which stands for Boosting Engineering, Science and Technology. The competition started in 1994, and UAFS has participated since 2003.
The teams are given points in several categories, with the highest-level award, the BEST Award, going to the top overall team that most embodies the concept of BEST. An award is also given to the team scoring highest in the robot portion of the event. Other awards are given for notebooks, table displays, interview, Web page designs, T-shirt designs and spirit and sportsmanship.
The hubs and schools competing in this year's Frontier Trails BEST competition are:
Crowley's Ridge BEST of Jonesboro: Arkansas Northeastern College, Burdette; Buffalo Island Central High School, Leachville; Hillcrest High School, Strawberry; Ridgefield Christian School, Jonesboro; West Memphis Christian School, West Memphis; and White Station High School, Memphis.
Heartland BEST of Alva, Okla.: Perry Public Schools, Perry, Okla.; Deer Creek High School, Edmond, Okla.; Oklahoma City Homeschool, Oklahoma City, Okla.; and Lawton Academy of Arts & Sciences, Lawton, Okla.
Kansas BEST of Wichita, Kan.: Wichita Homeschool Robotics, Wichita, Kan.; Ambassadors for Christ Academy, Bentonville, Ark.; Circle High School, Towanda, Kan., Kapaun Mt. Carmel High School, Wichita, Kan.; Valley Center High School, Valley Center, Kan.; and Council Grove High School, Council Grove, Kan.
Little Rock BEST of Little Rock: Arkansas School for Mathematics, Sciences and the Arts, Hot Springs; Parkview High School, Little Rock; Central High School, Little Rock; and National Park Technology Center, Hot Springs.
Northark BEST of Harrison: Hass Hall Academy, Fayetteville; Valley Springs School, Valley Springs; Pershing Middle School, Springfield, Mo.; and Lead Hill High School, Lead Hill.
River Valley BEST of Fort Smith: Chaffin Junior High School, Fort Smith; Muldrow/Gans Public Schools, Muldrow, Okla.; Fayetteville Public Schools, Fayetteville; and Western Arkansas Technical Center, Fort Smith.
Rocky Mountain BEST of Denver, Colo.: New Vista High School, Boulder, Colo.; Lone Star/Otis High School, Otis, Colo.; and STEM School and Academy, Highlands Ranch, Colo.
Show Me BEST of Sedalia, Mo.: Metro Homeschool Robotics, Independence, Mo.; Manteno High School, Manteno, Ill.; Kansas City Christian School, Prairie Village, Kan.; and Smith-Cotton High School, Sedalia, Mo.