By: Nan Buti
After six weeks of rigorous building, training, working, and preparing for State competition, the Oak Grove robotics team headed to Mississippi’s BEST (Boosting, Engineering, Science and Technology) Competition. The competition took place at Stakville High School on Saturday, October 29th. The assigned theme to all robotics teams was simply bugs. The clever scene that Oak Grove robotics team created was in a genetic engineering lab where bugs have gotten loose and are on the crawl. The goal of the robot is to capture and feed the raving roaches, flies, and termites. The objective at competition was the more bugs captured, the more points awarded to the team. This year 40 members attended the state competition.
Working Mondays through Thursdays after school until 5:00 p.m., the robotics team was well prepared for the competition and also put in massive amounts of effort in order to qualify and attend the competition. Not all members worked on building the robot, though. There are different aspects of being on the team. The 52 members on the team are each assigned different tasks to complete and jobs to work on. The team maintained organized committees which is a big change from the team’s past years. Students work on web page design, sportsmanship acts, marketing presentation about the design, engineering design notebook, table display, and of course, the robot. These are all components of the competition that the team was judged on. They have come into play successfully since the members have been very disciplined with their work, and since 2011 holds the most members to be on the team to date.
“We really hope to overcome our disappointment from last year and get to South’s BEST this year,” Megan Fortenberry, sponsor of the team, said. The team won two years in a row at Mississippi’s BEST and went to regionals before 2010 when it lost, only winning best web page. “Our goal this year is to be successful again,” Fortenberry said. Unfortunately, the team did not qualify to the next round. It also did not win any components of the competition such as table display or web page design. If the robotics team had advanced as a top competitor at State, it would have progressed to a competition called South’s BEST which is in December at Auburn University in Alabama. “Disappointment was my reaction. We did fairly well last year. I regret the outcome because we could have done better,” John Baxter, member of the robotics team, said. The team did a great job overall. It can be said that a lot of effort was put in to building the robot and preparing for the competition. So, what went wrong? The robot went through a malfunction and didn’t act accordingly. It did not have equilibrium and lost connection to the controller. The team hopes for a better outcome at State next year. They expect more knowledge on testing of the robot and experience on how the robot works. The Oak Grove robotics team surely won in effort this year, after all of the hard work put into building the robot and putting together components needed for the competition. Overall, the team has had a great season and has learned a lot from experiences and mistakes.