Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics - By the Numbers

Here it is the final day of 2013. This is a good time to reflect on this year while looking forward to that which is to come in 2014. So let us look at some numbers to see where we have been this year and where we want to go in 2014.

We are pleased that we had 10 teams to start and 10 teams to finish the BEST season with us in 2013. Our goal for 2014 is to expand to 14 teams.

We were excited to add two middle school teams to the competition for 2013, both of which performed admirably. Is there another middle school team out there that might become involved in 2014?

Though we thought we might catch up to Justin Bieber on Twitter followers, we are up to a somewhat respectable 58. Still not following us on Twitter? Make that your New Year's resolution.

We now have 100 "likes" on Facebook. Again, a great New Year's resolution. It's guilt free and does not require a gym membership.

Our website has become quite active, with nearly 1,500 page views in our peak month of September 2013. This is a great place to locate resources related to BEST year round.

So we didn't catch up to Bieber in 2013, but we did work with 10 awesome teams and watched the level of competition take a giant leap forward. We are looking forward to amazing things in 2014!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Gift Guide for Geeks

Reporter Lucy Berry of AL.com posted a Gift Guide for Geeks: 10 kid-friendly, last-minute presents to encourage STEM learning. Be sure to check it out as it contains some cool items!

And have a safe and healthy holiday season...

Friday, December 20, 2013

Merry Christmas from Northeast Alabama BEST

Everyone at Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics wishes the entire BEST family a blessed holiday season. We look forward to seeing you all accomplish great things in 2014.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

2014 Game Teaser Posted

Hi, everyone! The 2014 BEST Robotics game teaser has been posted for Bladerunner. Check it  out below:

#G8KPR South's BEST Robot Competition Rankings

Here is the entire list of robot game participants at South's BEST, in ranked order.

Team Number School Name Final Robotics Rankings Hub Primary Teacher
216 DARC 1 Tennessee Valley BEST Susan Haddock
130 Merrol Hyde Magnet School 2 Music City BEST Mike Marsh
38 Evangel Christian School 3 Blazer BEST Stephen Daniels
374 Holy Cross School 4 NOLA BEST Dale Turner
401 Marshall Technical School 5 NE Alabama BEST Glenn Bruce
251 W.P. Davidson High School 6 Jubilee BEST Jenny Parker
64 Starkville High School 7 Mississippi BEST Denise Adair
48 Spain Park High School 8 Blazer BEST Scottie Wilson
211 Academy for Science and Foreign Language 9 Tennessee Valley BEST Angela Traylor
255 Mobile Area Coalition of Homeschools (MACH) 10 Jubilee BEST Kendra Lane
129 Central Magnet School 11 Music City BEST Marc Guthrie
345 Wicksburg High School 12 Wiregrass BEST Mary Hudson
219 Lindsay Lane Christian Academy 13 Tennessee Valley BEST Kathryn DeWitt
250 Faith Academy 14 Jubilee BEST Sara LeCroy
158 Hope Academy 15 Central Alabama BEST Diane Rogers
24 Springwood School 16 War Eagle BEST Karlia Willis
408 Fyffe High School 17 NE Alabama BEST Regina Parris
25 Wetumpka High School 18 War Eagle BEST Virginia Vilardi
82 McNairy Central High School 19 Mississippi BEST Robin York
108 Northview High School 20 Georgia BEST Jason Weinberger
162 Talladega Career Tech Center 21 Central Alabama BEST Joseph Huss
97 Fernbank LINKS 22 Georgia BEST Debi Huffman
181 RCS Engineering 23 NW Alabama BEST Lee Brownell
287 Woodham Middle School 24 Emerald Coast BEST Carl Shouppe
318 Holly Pond High School 25 North Alabama BEST Wilma Whateley
467 Demopolis Middle School 26 Shelton State BEST Ashley Brock
242 Baker High School 27 Jubilee BEST Jeannine Reeves
293 Woodlawn Beach Middle School 28 Emerald Coast BEST Shannon Farrell
139 M.A.R.I.O. 29 Music City BEST Chris Smith
272 Sweet Water High School 30 Jubilee BEST Kevin Byrd
12 Lee-Scott Academy 31 War Eagle BEST John Gill
42 Oak Mountain High School 32 Blazer BEST Donna Strong
119 South Forsyth High School 33 Georgia BEST Jim Chamberlain
186 Brooks High School 34 NW Alabama BEST Alaina Pettus
344 Rehobeth Middle School 35 Wiregrass BEST Thad Smith
40 Homewood Middle School 36 Blazer BEST Mary Binkley
481 Tuscaloosa Christian School 37 Shelton State BEST Nancy Robertson
313 Hartselle Junior High School 38 North Alabama BEST Elisa Harris
294 Seaside Neighborhood School 39 Emerald Coast BEST Courtney Krick
156 Episcopal Day School 40 Central Alabama BEST Krista Ashley
19 Saint James School 41 War Eagle BEST Vicky Eichelberg
431 Dallas County High School 42 Selma BEST Glenn Walker
259 Monroeville Junior High School 43 Jubilee BEST Jena Mayo
154 Central High School of Clay County 44 Central Alabama BEST Becky Taylor
189 Muscle Shoals High School and Center for Technology 45 NW Alabama BEST Kerry Johnson
523 Delhi Charter School 46 LATech BEST Eric Vidrine
435 John T. Morgan Academy 47 Selma BEST Judith Bonds
475 Northridge High School 48 Shelton State BEST Victoria Evans
63 East Rankin Academy 49 Mississippi BEST Angela Trigg
2 Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School 50 War Eagle BEST Steve Ballard
66 Starkville Christian Home Educators 51 Mississippi BEST Michael Lane
380 St. Scholastica Academy 52 NOLA BEST Matt Lopez
502 McLane Robotics Engineering Academy 53 Florida West BEST Michael Wilson
500 Strawberry Crest High School 54 Florida West BEST Jim Brockman
93 Wheeler High School 55 Georgia BEST Charles Hawkins
476 Northside High School 56 Shelton State BEST Eve Kendrick

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

G8KPR South's BEST 2013 Results

Here are the complete results for South's BEST 2013 Gatekeeper:

BEST Award
1st Place:  Wetumpka High School (War Eagle BEST)
2nd Place: Fernbank LINKS (Georgia BEST)
3rd Place:  Wicksburg High School (Tennessee Valley BEST)

1st Place:  DARC (Tennessee Valley BEST)
2nd Place: Merrol Hyde Magnet School (Music City BEST)
3rd Place:  Evangel Christian School (Blazer BEST)
Finalist:  Holy Cross School (NOLA BEST)

Middle School Awards
BEST Award – Woodlawn Beach Middle School (Emerald Coast BEST)
Robotics – Evangel Christian School  (Blazer BEST)

BEST Award – Category Winners

Marketing Presentation
1st Place:  W.P. Davidson High School (Jubilee BEST)
2nd Place: Starkville High School (Mississippi BEST)
3rd Place:  Springwood School (War Eagle BEST)

Project Engineering Notebook
1st Place:  Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School (War Eagle BEST)
2nd Place: Fyffe High School (Northeast AL BEST)
3rd Place:  Wetumpka High School (War Eagle BEST)

Team Exhibit and Interview
1st Place:  Fernbank LINKS (Georgia BEST)
2nd Place: Wicksburg High School (Wiregrass BEST)
3rd Place:  DARC (Tennessee Valley BEST)

Spirit and Sportsmanship
1st Place:  Brewbaker Technology Magnet High School (War Eagle BEST)
2nd Place: Spain Park High School (Blazer BEST)
3rd Place:  Oak Mountain High School (Blazer BEST)

Team Exhibit Design and Construction Award
1st Place:  Lindsay Lane Christian School (Tennessee Valley BEST)
2nd Place: Brooks High School (Northwest AL BEST)
3rd Place: Marshall Technical School (Northeast AL BEST)

Special Competition Awards

Founders Award for Creative Design
1st Place:  Fyffe High School (Northeast AL BEST)
2nd Place: Hope Academy (Central AL BEST)
3rd Place:  W.P. Davidson High School (Jubilee BEST)

Neptune Technology Group Most Elegant Robot
1st Place:  Fernbank LINKS (Georgia BEST)
2nd Place: Holy Cross (NOLA BEST)
3rd Place:  Hope Academy (Central AL BEST)

Most Robust Robot
1st Place:  Fernbank LINKS (Georgia BEST)
2nd Place: DARC (Tennessee Valley BEST)
3rd Place:  W.P. Davidson High School (Jubilee BEST)

Most Photogenic Robot
1st Place:  Fernbank LINKS (Georgia BEST)
2nd Place: Holy Cross School (NOLA BEST)
3rd Place:  W.P. Davidson High School (Jubilee BEST)

Team Video
1st Place:  Starkville Christian Home Educators  (Mississippi BEST)
2nd Place: Sweet Water High School (Jubilee BEST)
3rd Place:  Strawberry Crest High School (Florida West Coast BEST)

SolidWorks CAD Design Award
1st Place:  W.P. Davidson High School (Jubilee BEST)
2nd Place: Fernbank LINKS (Georgia BEST)
3rd Place:  Merrol Hyde Magnet School (Music City BEST)

Web page Design
1st Place:  RCS Engineering (Northwest AL BEST)
2nd Place: South Forsythe High School (Georgia BEST)
3rd Place:  DARC (Tennessee Valley BEST)

Game T-shirt Design
1st Place:  Hope Academy (Central AL BEST)
2nd Place: Homewood Middle School (Blazer BEST)
3rd Place:  South Forsythe High School (Georgia BEST)

Best Team Mascot
1st Place:  Talladega Career Tech Center (Central AL BEST)
2nd Place: Lindsay Lane Christian Academy (Tennessee Valley BEST)
3rd Place:  Wicksburg High School (Wiregrass BEST)

Briggs and Stratton South’s BEST Teacher of the Year
Debi Huffman – Fernbank LINKS (Georgia BEST)
Kevin Byrd – Sweet Water High School (Jubilee BEST)
Ashley Brock – Demopolis High School (Shelton State BEST)

Jim Westmoreland Memorial Judges Award
Don Bryant (Retired Teacher, Tallassee High School)
Dr. Virginia Davis (Dept. Chemical Engineering, Auburn University)

South’s BEST Volunteer of the Year
Justin Moses (Dept. Electrical and Computer Engineering, Auburn University)
Lucas Hunter (U.S. Army Research, Development, and Engineering Command)

The robot rankings will be posted tomorrow. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

# G8KPR Northeast Alabama Teams Excel at South's BEST

The two teams representing Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics performed exceptionally well at South's BEST, held in Auburn last weekend.

Fyffe High School, which advanced to South's BEST as the second place BEST Award team at Northeast Alabama BEST, took second place in Project Engineering Notebook and first place in Founders' Award for Creative Design. They finished a very respectable 17th in the robot competition.

Marshall Technical School, which took first place in robot and BEST Award at Northeast Alabama BEST, won third place in Team Exhibit and finished fifth in the robot competition.

Fifty-six teams from 18 hubs in Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana and Florida competed.

Photo courtesy of Brian Gann
The staff of Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics could not be more proud of these teams, which represented us so well at South's BEST.

Friday, December 6, 2013

#G8KPR Watch South's BEST Live Stream

South's BEST takes place Saturday and Sunday. Those who can't make it to Auburn may watch a live stream online at http://www.southsbest.org/site/.

A schedule for the weekend is available at http://www.southsbest.org/site/files/ChampionshipSchedule.pdf

If you can't be there to cheer on our Northeast Alabama Teams, be sure to cheer them on through social media by using the hashtag: #G8KPR and on Twitter, mention @northeastalbest and @bestrobotics.

Fyffe High School and Marshall Technical School will represent Northeast Alabama BEST at South's BEST.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

#G8KPR Article About 2013 Game Development on AL.com

AL.com today published an article about the development of GateKeeper 2013. Gatekeeper was developed by Jubilee BEST, headquartered in Mobile, Alabama. A link to the article is located here: http://blog.al.com/live/2013/12/regional_best_robotics_competi.html#incart_river_default

Congratulations to Jubilee BEST for this recognition. Creating the game challenge for BEST is a daunting challenge that takes many hours of work over the course of almost two years.

The teaser video for BEST 2014 will be unveiled at South's BEST this weekend.

Friday, November 29, 2013

#G8KPR News Article

A news article regarding Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics has been distributed to area news outlets. The article may be viewed on the NACC website: http://www.nacc.edu/news/best_robotics_winners.htm

You may also see the article on The Daily Sentinel site: http://thedailysentinel.com/news/article_9973206e-5778-11e3-95bc-0019bb2963f4.html

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

#G8KPR Fyffe High School in the News

Fyffe High School was recently featured in a story in The Times Journal. A link to the article is located here. However, due to subscription guidelines, only a portion of the article may be viewed without logging in.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

#G8KPR Fyffe Robotics on 48 News

Fyffe High School Robotics was recently featured in a piece on WAAF News Channel 48 - Huntsville.

WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Click here for the entire article from the WAFF website.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

#G8KPR It's a Bird...It's a Plane...No. It's Levi and the Ider Candroid

Here is a video interview of the Ider High School Steelheads Robotics Team mascot, the Candroid and his human spokeperson, Levi Goolesby. This was recorded by Southern Torch at Practice Day (Made in DeKalb Expo).

Great job representing BEST Robotics, guys!

Monday, November 18, 2013

#G8KPR Kit Return Reminder

Attention teams:

As stated in the 42 Days of BEST, each school has two options related to the return of the robot kit:

  1. If the team wishes to keep its robot, it may do so by purchasing the returnable kit. Instructions on the purchase of your returnable kit is located on the last page behind Tab 4 of your 2013 Game Manual. Address any questions to Mike Kennamer.
  2. If the team does not wish to purchase its robot, the team must dismantle the robot and turn in all returnable items to Northeast Alabama BEST hub officials no later than November 22, 2013. Teams advancing to South's BEST are not required to return their kit until after South's BEST.
We ask that all teams (whether buying the kit or not) return the tub in which your consumables were provided and return any unused consumable supplies so that we may recycle them for later use.

Please let Nicole Carroll know your intentions regarding the return or purchase of your kit. The hub's sustainability depends upon our being able to reuse kits year after year. Remember that the condition in which you return your kit components is the condition in which you will receive it next year.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Participate in #G8KPR Student Survey and Possibly Win Prizes

BEST Robotics, Inc. is requesting that all students who participated in BEST 2013 #G8KPR take a short survey intended to collect data geared toward workforce/career skills and to ask questions about the 2013 game: Gatekeeper.

Teachers: Please encourage your students to participate in the survey. As an incentive, there will be a drawing for a free robot kit, T-shirts, etc. Be sure that students select their hub as Northeast Alabama BEST (as opposed to North Alabama BEST, which appears a few spaces above Northeast Alabama BEST in the survey).

The link to the survey is https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/BESTstudents2013. Please share this link with all your students and teammates.

Thanks in advance for your participation in this survey!


Wednesday, November 13, 2013

#G8KPR More of Marshall Tech School in the News

The Sand Mountain reporter recently published another article about the Marshall Technical School's win at Northeast Alabama BEST. Though the article is subscription only, you can see the first part of it here: http://www.sandmountainreporter.com/news/local/article_38fba3bc-48c5-11e3-9d85-001a4bcf887a.html

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

#G8KPR Marshall Technical School Featured in Local Paper

The Marshall Technical School Robotics Team was recently featured in the Sand Mountain Reporter. The story is linked here, although subscription requirements prevent you from reading the entire article.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Deadline to Return BEST Kits

Attention teams:

As stated in the 42 Days of BEST, each school has two options related to the return of the robot kit:
  1. If the team wishes to keep its robot, it may do so by purchasing the returnable kit. Instructions on the purchase of your returnable kit is located on the last page behind Tab 4 of your 2013 Game Manual. Address any questions to Mike Kennamer.
  2. If the team does not wish to purchase its robot, the team must dismantle the robot and turn in all returnable items to Northeast Alabama BEST hub officials no later than November 22, 2013. Teams advancing to South's BEST are not required to return their kit until after South's BEST.
We ask that all teams (whether buying the kit or not) return the tub in which your consumables were provided and return any unused consumable supplies so that we may recycle them for later use.

Please let Nicole Carroll know your intentions regarding the return or purchase of your kit. The hub's sustainability depends upon our being able to reuse kits year after year.

Thank you in advance for your usual fine cooperation.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

#G8KPR Photos Published to Northeastalabamabest.org

Game day photos have been published to the Photo section of this website. Some of the photos are featured in a video, shown below.

South's BEST is December 7-8 in Auburn #G8KPR

South's BEST will take place December 7-8, 2013 in the Auburn Arena at Auburn University. Fifty-six teams from 18 hubs in 6 states will compete. Our own Marshall Technical School and Fyffe High School will compete in the BEST award competition, representing our hub.

Members of teams that are not advancing to South's BEST are encouraged to attend to get ideas for next year and to cheer on our Northeast Alabama BEST teams. Remember that knowledge is power, so that which you learn at South's BEST might be just the advantage you need to be part of South's BEST next year. Please visit the South's BEST website for details and contact Nicole Carroll should you need any information about attending as a spectator.

South's BEST is one of four regional competitions strategically located across the U.S. Due to travel expense, there is not a national competition; the regional competition is the pinnacle of BEST Robotics at this time.

Monday, November 4, 2013

#G8KPR Thanks to Best Robotics, Inc.

The dust has cleared. The trophies and plaques have been handed out. Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics 2013 is finished.

What a great competition season and ten great Northeast Alabama BEST teams! We are grateful for the grace and class with which you conduct yourselves.

Though our parent organization, Best Robotics, Inc. sometimes sits quietly in the background with little recognition, we would like to recognize the many ways in which they make this whole thing possible.

First of all, there are a number of robotics competitions out there. We could have selected to work with any of them. But one competition and national organization stood out to us. First of all, the executive director at the time, Dr. George Blanks of Auburn University, reached out to me personally to ask if Northeast Alabama Community College would be willing to host a hub to serve the northeast corner of Alabama. Those of you who know George know that he is very convincing and is very passionate about BEST and what it does in our communities. After one visit to South's BEST in 2011, we drank the proverbial BEST Robotics "Kool-Aid". Though I don't yet know the current executive director, Tom Fitzmaurice, as well as I do George, I have found him to be accessible and passionate about BEST and its future.

When you join BEST you enter into a license agreement that allows you to use the BEST name, logo, game, resources, etc. as part of your robotics competition. But you really get more than that. When you join BEST you join a family of BEST hubs across the nation. This connects you with others in the BEST family and provides a vast array of resources from all the BEST hubs who are willing to share their time, effort, and resources to help make your hub successful. We are not reinventing the wheel here at Northeast Alabama BEST. We are using the resources provided by various hubs to leverage time and effort to make BEST even better for you.

We, at Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics, wish to thank BEST Robotics, Inc. for all they do to help make our hub succesful, sustainable, and integrated into the BEST family. Please feel free to send them a note of thanks also, should you feel led. Their contact information is shown below:

BEST Robotics, Inc.
Twitter: @Bestrobotics
Google +BEST Robotics
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BESTRobotics

Saturday, November 2, 2013

#G8KPR 2013 Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics Results

Congratulations to our 2013 BEST Robotics teams. Here is the list of awards:

BEST Award
  • 1st Place - Marshall Technical School
  • 2nd Place - Fyffe High School
  • 3rd Place - Fort Payne High School
 Robot Competition
  • 1st Place - Marshall Technical School
  • 2nd Place - Fort Payne High School
  • 3rd Place - Fyffe High School
  • 4th Place - DeKalb County Technology Center
Missile Defense Agency Project Engineering Notebook
  • 1st Place - Fyffe High School
  • 2nd Place - Ider High School
  • 3rd Place - Marshall Technical School
Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative Team Exhibit and Interview
  • 1st Place - Marshall Technical School
  • 2nd Place - Ider High School
  • 3rd Place - Fyffe High School
Walmart Marketing Presentation
  • 1st Place - Marshall Technical School
  • 2nd Place - Fyffe High School
  • 3rd Place - Fort Payne High School
Founders' Award for Creative Design
  • DeKalb County Technology Center
Tennessee Valley Authority Top Gun Award
  • Marshall Technical School
Tennessee Valley Authority Most Robust Machine
  • Woodville High School
Fort Payne Improvement Authority Most Economical Robot Design
  •  Pisgah High School
Governor's Office of Workforce Development Spirit & Sportsmanship Award
  • Marshall Technical School
DeKalb County Development Commission Spirit of BEST Award for Grit
  • Woodville High School
 DeKalb County Development Commission Spirit of BEST Award for Attitude
  • Bridgeport Middle School
 Berry & Dunn Office Equipment Best T Shirt Design
  • Marshall Technical School
 DeKalb County Home Builders Association Best CAD Design
  • Fort Payne High School
 Missile Defense Agency Blood, Sweat and Duct Tape Award
  • Crossville High School
 Walmart Most Photogenic Robot
  • Marshall Technical School
Governor's Office of Workforce Development Best Website
  • Ider High School
 DeKalb County Home Builders Association Best Team Theme
  • Ider High School
 Rainsville Chamber of Commerce Best Rookie Team
  • Brindlee Mountain Middle School
Congratulations to all the teams! According to BEST rules, the following teams will advance to South's BEST in Auburn:
  • Marshall Technical School (1st Place BEST Award and 1st Place Robot)
  • Fyffe High School (2nd Place BEST Award) 

Good morning #G8KPR

Good morning everyone! Today is the day for which you have prepared. Today is game day for #G8KPR 2013. We all want to do our best on game day, and we all want to win. But that is not the most important thing. I learned this lesson the hard way.

Like many of you, I am fiercely competitive. I never let my kids win at games when they were little. If they won, it is because they won fair and square. No gimmees, no do-overs. They grew up knowing that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. That is part of life. Like it or not, nobody ever wins every time.

But that doesn't keep us from trying. I learned a lesson about my competitive spirit at a leadership retreat that I attended a number of years ago. This retreat brought together people who were strangers at the outset in an effort to build teamwork and comradery among the group, which would work together for the coming year. On the first day of the retreat we did all those annoying exercises about personality types and learning each others' names and other tortuous devices that teachers use to really build a spirit of teamwork. On the second day we melted together in the 105-degree Tuscaloosa heat as we spent the entire day on the ropes course. By the end of the second day I was mentally and physically exhausted and missed dinner because I went back to the room to take a shower before dinner and fell asleep. I slept until the next morning.

The third day I was refreshed. This was the last day of the retreat and we had been told that it would be spent in the confines of an air conditioned facility. All was well. And to top it off, we were going to play games all morning.

You've got to understand that I love playing games. They are fun, challenging, and best of all, I get the opportunity to WIN! In one game we were split into teams. I forget the exact premise of the game but essentially you had a number of options to play. I quickly deducted (and convinced my teammates to go along) that if we played a certain strategy we could cut our losses and assure that other teams could not earn points. It seems that there was a way in which there was a win-win situation and a win-lose situation.

Well, all the other teams went with the win-win scenario. They got it. That was the goal. As Zig Ziglar frequently said, the best way to be successful is to help others be successful. And the other teams got it. But even after two days of team building exercises my competitive spirit got the best of me and my focus was to win. I convinced my team to go along with my devious plan.

At one point in the game one of the people on an opposing team starting crying. "What is her problem," I thought. "Geez, I'm about to obliterate their team, but hey, it's only a game. Not everyone can win." After all, there's no crying in baseball. (If you don't understand this reference you should ask your parents if you can watch "A League of Their Own"--a great baseball movie with Tom Hanks, Geena Davis and Madonna.)

But what stuck me about this was that the person who was crying expressed that she felt betrayed. We had gotten to know each other, we had trusted each other with our very lives on the ropes course, and now our team was running over the other teams for the sake of winning. Yikes! Am I really that bad. Sadly, yes.

Did that quell my competitive spirit? No. But it did teach me a lesson and help me to understand that winning is great, but it is not the only thing. So why did I share this story with you? So I can win a Pulitzer Prize for my great website post? That'd be cool, but no. I shared it to help you to put winning and losing in perspective as that young lady did for me several years ago.

I want you to do the best that you can do. If that is better than the next team, then that's great. But if another team does better that's great also. I encourage you come to game day today just come asking yourself the following questions:
  1. Am I better (smarter, more skilled, more awesome) today than I was 42 days ago? If so, people who care about you probably helped you to develop and grow. Thank them for that. Your teachers and mentors really care.
  2. Did I learn something? My guess is that you did. And, if so, you are a winner. No trophy is necessary to affirm that.
  3. Was I a help (blessing, friend, encouragement) to anyone today? If not, what are you waiting for?
With all that said, I will leave you with the following words of wisdom:

I am so looking forward to seeing all the great things you will do today and wish each of you the BEST...

Mike Kennamer
Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics
Hub Co-Director

Friday, November 1, 2013

Saturday's #G8KPR Schedule

Remember that rainy (understatement) day that we referred to as Kick Off 2013? You had 42 days--6 whole weeks--before game day. It seemed like plenty of time. You planned, you worked. Some of you were at your school working until 2 am the morning of Practice Day. But tomorrow is the day. Time is up. All the cards are on the table. It's time to roll.

Okay, that's just an overly dramatic way of saying that tomorrow is... GAME DAY! And here's the bare bones schedule. The entire annotated schedule is available under Team Resources on this site.

  • 7:30 am - Doors Open
  • 7:30 am - 8:30 am - Team Registration
  • 8:00 am - 9:00 am - Compliance Check in and Pit Set Up
  • 9:00 am - Drivers' Meeting
  • 9:30 am - Seeding Rounds Begin and Exhibits Open
  • 11:30 am - Lunch Break (on your own) (Exhibits are closed until 1:30 pm)
  • 11:45 am - Arena Must be Cleared
  • 12:30 - 12:45 pm - Compliance Open  (for teams who removed their robot during lunch. Not recommended unless major repairs are necessary)
  • 12:50 pm - Line up for Opening Ceremony
  • 1:00 pm - Opening Ceremony
  • 1:30 pm - Robot Competition Rounds and Exhibits Open
  • 4:00 pm - Exhibit Breakdown may begin
  • 5:00 pm (TENTATIVE) - Awards Ceremony
Please keep in mind that the awards ceremony will take place at the conclusion of the game. If your team is eliminated before the final round, PLEASE stay until the end. It is:
  1. First and foremost, good sportsmanship;
  2. Because you may win other awards and we don't want that awkward moment of people whispering "I think they left"; and finally,
  3. Because you are cool and we want to hang out with you as much as possible.
We are looking forward to an awesome game day!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

BEST Robotics, Inc. Volunteer Thank You Video #G8KPR

Please watch this video thanking all the volunteers that make BEST Robotics possible across the country. If you look carefully you might even see some Northeast Alabama BEST personnel in the video.

Thanks to BEST Robotics, Inc. for all the support they provide to local hubs.

#G8KPR Open Driving Practice Time Available

Thanks to the kindness of Mike Sweat and the staff at the Northeast Alabama Agribusiness Center in Rainsville, we are able to get in the facility early to set up and prepare for competition on Saturday.

That means that we will be able to offer practice time on Friday, November 1 from 10:00 am until 4:30 pm. Driving time will be allowed in 30 minute increments on a first come, first served basis. Teams who have already had driving practice time will be expected to yield the field to other teams if more than four are on site for practice at a given time. The facility will close promptly at 4:30 pm.

There will be no driving practice on Saturday morning.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

The #G8KPR After Party? UR Nvited!

So what are you doing after the Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics competition Saturday? Sleeping. We understand completely. The last thing most of us want to do is go home and cook dinner.

Consequently, a number of us ended up at The Wing House in Rainsville last year after the competition, prompting us to discuss the possibility of an unofficial after party.

So here's the scoop. The Wing House will have a dining room reserved for BEST participants: teams, volunteers, families, friends, etc. immediately following the competition Saturday night. Please feel free to go over to enjoy a good, relaxing meal after the competition and hang out with some of you BEST friends.

No, we are not picking up the check.

Everyone will be responsible for their own ticket and gratuities will be automatically added to each check.

So before you settle in for your well-deserved nap, enjoy a good meal with your friends. We hope to see you there.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

2013 Northeast Alabama BEST T Shirt Design

We are pleased to announce that through the generosity of our sponsors, all team members and volunteers participating in Northeast Alabama BEST this year will receive free T Shirts. The tan shirts, printed in Northeast Alabama BEST black and orange, will feature the Northeast Alabama BEST logo on the left chest and a listing of sponsors, grantors, and partners on the back.

Thanks to our sponsors for providing funds to purchase T Shirts for each of our participants!

Monday, October 28, 2013

Lots of Awards This Year

Everyone wants to win first place in the robot competition and BEST Award. Unfortunately, only one team can win each of these honors. But don't dismay, there are other great awards that teams may win. Here is a list of some of the awards in store for you this year:
  • Founders' Award for Creative Design
  • Tennessee Valley Authority Most Robust Machine
  • Rainsville Chamber of Commerce Best Rookie Team
  • Berry & Dunn Office Equipment Best T Shirt Design
  • DeKalb County Homebuilders Association Best CAD Design
  • Missile Defense Agency Blood, Sweat and Duct Tape Award
  • Walmart Most Photogenic Robot
  • Governor's Office of Workforce Development Spirit & Sportsmanship Award
  • Tennessee Valley AuthorityTop Gun Award
  • Fort Payne Improvement Authority Most Economical Design
  • Governor's Office of Workforce Development Best Website
  • DeKalb County Homebuilders Association Best Team Theme
  • DeKalb County Development Commission Spirit of BEST Award for Grit
  • DeKalb County Development Commission Spirit of BEST Award for Attitude
In addition, we will award:
  • 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in BEST Award
  • 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th place in Robot Competition
  • 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in Walmart Best Marketing Presentation
  • 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in Farmers Telecommunications Cooperative Team Exhibit & Interview
  • 1st, 2nd and 3rd place in Missile Defense Agency Project Engineering Notebook
We encourage all teams to stay around for the awards ceremony, since each team will receive a certificate of participation, and are eligible for a number of awards.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Game Day to be Streamed Live on Southern Torch

We are pleased to announce that game day will be streamed live on SouthernTorch next Saturday. Please let your friends and relatives who can't be there know to tune in for live coverage throughout the day. Southern Torch

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Thanks for a Great Practice Day Today

Thanks to all the teams who participated in Practice Day today. It was exciting to see everyone and the progress you all have made on your robots. Be sure to check out some of the photos on our photo page.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Engineering Notebooks Due Thursday, October 24

Remember that Engineering Notebooks are due to Nicole Carroll no later than 4:00 pm on Thursday, October 24. Please give Nicole your notebook at practice day and email an electronic copy to her.

We look forward to seeing everyone at Practice Day tomorrow.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Game Week Schedule Posted

The schedule for the 2013 Game Week has been posted on the Team Resources section of this site. This includes vital information regarding:
  • Sales and Marketing Presentations on October 30
  • Exhibit Booth Set Up and Driving Practice on November 1
  • Game Day on November 2
Please play close attention to the information included in this document. Any changes will be listed on this site.

Friday, October 18, 2013

There's an App for That!

Did you know that BEST Robotics has an app?

BEST Scoreboard 5.0 is available for both IOS and Android devices and may be accessed through the Internet. Check out details here. http://www.bestinc.org/BRI_Apps/promo.php

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Practice Day Time Slots Announced!

Times slots for Practice Day at Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics have been announced!

Practice day will be held in conjunction with the Made in DeKalb Expo on October 24 in the Northeast Alabama Agribusiness Center in Rainsville. Each team will receive 2 hours of practice time. Since the event lasts all day, teams are encouraged to come early or stay late to enjoy the event. Lunch is not provided, but a concession stand will be open. Made in DeKalb Expo is open to the pubic from 3-6 pm.

Time slots for practice day are:
  •  8:00 - 10:00 am - Bridgeport Middle School and DeKalb County Technology Center
  • 10:00 am - noon - Fort Payne High School and Ider High School
  • 12:00 - 2:00 pm - Woodville High School and Crossville High School
  • 2:00 - 4:00 pm - Brindlee Mountain Middle School and Marshall Technical School
  • 4:00 - 6:00 pm - Fyffe High School and Pisgah High School.

Time slots were chosen by entering every team name into a randomizer. In the first randomization, we selected the order for teams to select practice times. In the second randomization, time slots for marketing presentations were selected. Marketing presentation time slots will be announced later this week. Look for the game day schedule soon also.

Remember that Engineering Notebooks are due no later than 4:00 pm on October 24. The team Demographic Form (located in your manual) is required to be attached to your Engineering Notebook. Each team must submit one hard copy an done electronic copy (via email to carrolln@nacc.edu).

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Engineering Notebook Due October 24

Engineering notebooks are due at practice day, October 24, no later than 4:00 pm. Each team must email to Nicole Carroll (carrolln@nacc.edu) an electronic copy of their notebook and turn in the completed printed copy on practice day. Be sure to include the Team Demographic Form. Notebooks will be judged and returned to teams for Game Day.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Check BEST websites daily!

Teams should check www.northeastalabamabest.org and www.bestinc.org daily throughout the BEST season to assure that they don't miss any important news.  

Marketing Presentation Time Slots Announced

Time slots for marketing presentations for Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics have been announced. These slots were selected by placing each team name and number in a randomizer to select an order in which times could be chosen.

Marketing presentations will be held in room 110 of the Health Education Building on the NACC campus. Teams should arrive at least 15 minutes prior to their presentation time. A minimum of 4 and a maximum of 8 students may actively participate in the presentation. Only those who are on the marketing presentation team should attend. Adults are not allowed to participate in any way, including set up and take down.

A silent audience of no more than 4 adults/coaches may view the presentation at the discretion of the team and Northeast Alabama BEST officials. Video recording and photography is allowed. Flash photography is not allowed. Members of the audience are NOT ALLOWED to interact or communicate with the team in any way. Any interaction between the audience and the team will result in a deduction from the team's score. Be sure to check the marketing presentation score sheets for specific scoring information. No feedback or scores will be given until the awards presentation at game day.

The lecture hall used for marketing presentations is equipped with a computer, projector and smart board system. Teams may plug their presentation into the existing computer or may hook up their own laptop computer.

The schedule for Wednesday, October 30, 2013 is as follows:
  • 9:30 am - Pisgah High School
  • 10:00 am - Fort Payne High School
  • 10:30 am - Fyffe High School
  • 11:00 am - Brindlee Mountain Middle School
  • 11:30 am - Marshall Technical School
  • 12:30 pm - Woodville High School
  • 1:00 pm - Bridgeport Middle School
  • 1:30 pm - Ider High School
  • 2:00 pm - DeKalb County Technology Center
Remember that besides judging for marketing presentations on October 30, judges will also be making notes regarding spirit and sportsmanship, grit, attitude, and team theme. We are looking forward to seeing you on October 30.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Jubilee BEST Hosts First Game Day of 2013

2013 Gatekeeper game creators, Jubilee BEST, hosted the first game day of 2013 last Saturday. As game creators, the Mobile, Alabama-area hub tested all the systems before other hubs start their game days in the coming weeks. The excitement of the first game day of the year has given your Northeast Alabama BEST staff game day fever. We are excited to see what you will do with this year's challenge!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Thanks to Mississippi BEST!

Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics would like to express a heartfelt thanks to Eric Heiselt and Mississippi BEST Robotics for sharing their playing field with us this year. Playing fields are expensive to produce and take a good deal of time to build. This year's field was especially expensive and time consuming. Through a partnership with Mississippi BEST, hosted at Mississippi State University, we were able to share resources and minimize the number of fields that were built.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Thanks to Statewide Partners

Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics wishes to thank the following statewide partners:

  • Governor's Office of Workforce Development
  • Alabama Technology Network
  • Friends of BEST in Alabama
The Alabama Technology Network coordinated a statewide grant through the Governor's Office of Workforce Development and administered by Friends of BEST in Alabama that benefits local BEST hubs in Alabama. 

Our local Alabama Technology Network center also works as part of our leadership team year round to assure that Northeast Alabama BEST is the best it can be. 

We thank these partners for being a part of Northeast Alabama BEST. 

Friday, October 4, 2013

Happy Manufacturing Day!

Today is manufacturing day across the United States. 

Sponsored by the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association (FMA), National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) , and the Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), Manufacturing Day provides an opportunity for manufacturers to open their doors and show what 21st Century manufacturing looks like. 

Locally, GH Metal Solutions in Fort Payne is opening their doors for tours. Northeast Alabama Community College will have their mobile training unit on site to allow visitors to try their hand at welding using their virtual reality welder

Thursday, October 3, 2013

2013 BEST Sponsor: Walmart Foundation

We are pleased to welcome the Walmart Foundation as a 2013 sponsor of Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics. Walmart truly is a household word so no introduction is really necessary for this sponsor. We appreciate the support of the Walmart Foundation and our local Walmart stores.

Sponsors like Walmart are the reason that we can continue to host a BEST Robotics hub in our area.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Advancing to South's BEST

There are 274 teams competing in the 18 hubs in 6 states that comprise South's BEST. Fifty-six (56) of these teams will advance to Auburn to compete in South's BEST.

Based on the number of teams competing in Northeast Alabama BEST this year, we will send 2 teams to South's BEST, with the sequence of advancing teams being as follows:
  1. First Place BEST Award
  2. First Place Robot
  3. Second Place BEST Award

If (as it occurred last year) a team wins first place in both the BEST Award and the robot competition, the second place BEST Award will advance to South's BEST. As it stands currently, only our First Place BEST Award team will be able to compete in BEST Award at South's BEST. The second entry will be able to compete in the Robot competition only, even if they advance as a second place BEST award winner.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Time Slots for Practice Day and Marketing Presentations Opened

Attention Teams:

Nicole Carroll will be contacting each coach to arrange time slots for practice day (October 24) and marketing presentations (October 30). Please respond to her email quickly so that we can fill in the schedule.

To select the order for which you will select time slots all team numbers were placed in an online randomizer. The first selection was for time slots for practice day. The second selection was for time slots for marketing presentations. Once all teams make their selections (in order of selection by the randomizer), we will post those times online.

Practice Day will take place on Thursday, October 24, 2013 at the Northeast Alabama Agri Business Center in Rainsville, Alabama. We will invite two teams to be on the field at a time, in the following time slots:
  • 8:00 am until 10:00 am
  • 10:00 am until 12:00 noon
  • 12:00 noon until 2:00 pm
  • 2:00 pm until 4:00 pm
  • 4:00 pm until 6:00 pm 
Marketing Presentations will take place in the Workforce Development Building on the NACC campus at the following times on Wednesday, October 30, 2013:
  • 9:30 am
  • 10:00 am
  • 10:30 am
  • 11:00 am
  • 11:30 am
  • 12:30 pm
  • 1:00 pm
  • 1:30 pm
  • 2:00 pm
  • 2:30 pm

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Technical Training Day Photos Posted

We had a great group at Technical Training Day on Saturday. Be sure to check out photos from the day under the photo link on this site. Thanks to all who came out and especially to our instructors: 

  • Jordan Hilyer of GH Metal Solutions, who  did a great job with SolidWorks 
  • Dennis Lester of NACC who turned out some expert solderers
  • Deni Adkins, of NACC, who was asked at 8:05 this morning if she would fill in an lead the discussion in the Programming Users Group. Thanks to Mrs. Adkins for stepping up, filling in, and exemplifying the spirit of BEST. 

Friday, September 27, 2013

Preparing for Technical Training Day

Technical Training Day will take place on Saturday, September 28 in the Industrial Systems Techology Center at Northeast Alabama Community College. Classes will last from 8:00 am until noon, and will include the following topics:
  • Solidworks - We have a limited number of computers loaded with Solidworks available in our lab. If you can, bring a laptop loaded with Solidworks.
  • Soldering and Wire Connections - If you have one, bring a soldering iron and solder. If not, we will have some available for your use.
  • Programming Users Group - Bring a laptop loaded with your programming software (Easy C, Robot C, etc.)
Both Solidworks and Soldering will be instructor led. The Programming Users Group will be just that--a meeting of those who use programming software. It is expected that the more experienced users will help the beginners.

A large number of people have already registered in advance for Technical Training Day. If you have not yet done so, please register here: https://technicaltraining.eventbrite.com/.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Clarification Regarding Robot Base

There were lots of questions on Kick Off Day regarding how you connect your robot to the trolley. The platform on the trolley is 23" x 15.75" While there was a good deal of discussion about making your robot base the exact same size, according to the Official BEST Question and Answer # 50:

The base of the robot does not need to be 23" x 15.75"; it simply must be able to attach to the base platform on both the left and right side. This should leave open numerous possibilities for shape and dimensions. We would not recommend extending beyond the platform, but this is permissible, as long as no other rules are broken in the process.

This reinforces the need to keep an eye on the Official BEST Q & A.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Clock is Ticking...BEST 2013 Has Begun!

We were excited to see everyone Saturday as we kicked off Gatekeeper 2013. Between 250 and 300 people attended the kick off of Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics  on the campus of Northeast Alabama Community College. After a  reveal of this year's theme, the hub offered a number of training sessions including both general sessions and breakout sessions.

Stevie B's pizza, was a hit for lunch and students enjoyed viewing the field as they began to concoct their plans for a robot that will build CPUs.

Dr. LaRonda Conley, representing the Missile Defense Agency STEM Outreach, was on hand to witness the kick off. Rick Roden, president and CEO of the Greater Jackson County Chamber of Commerce served as emcee and will continue as emcee for the 2013 BEST season.

The next event of the season is technical training day on September 28. Registration is open at http://technicaltraining.eventbrite.com/.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

42 Days of BEST Posted

The 42 Days of BEST document has been posted on the Team Resources section of this site. This weekly calendar will help guide teams as they navigate the BEST season.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Consumable Kits Ready for Saturday

As seen in these photos, the consumable kits are complete and stored in an undisclosed location until Saturday.

Looking forward to Kick Off. Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Kits are Ready!

Northeast Alabama BEST Robotics volunteers recently enjoyed an afternoon of putting together consumable kits. The kits are ready for Kick Off Day on Saturday.

In the first photo (right), NACC employees: Bryon Miller (Job Placement Specialist), Judith Lea (Director of Technology Learning Center) and Kelly Black (Drafting & Design Instructor) work to count, bag and label small parts.

In the second photo, Julie George (NACC Skills Training Coordinator) and Dennis Lester (NACC Industrial Systems Technology instructor) cut wire for the kits.

The third photo shows Judith Lea, Shelia Shepard (Jackson County EDA) and Kelly Black sorting nuts and bolts.

And the fourth photo shows Nancy Griggs (NACC WorkKeys Coordinator) and Pam Clay (DeKalb County EDA) packaging some small electronic parts.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Technical Training Day Schedule Announced!

Northeast Alabama Community College has announced the schedule for its BEST Robotics Technical Training Day on Saturday, September 28, 2013.

Three classes will be offered:
  • Soldering and Electrical Connections
    • Learn how to make secure electrical connections
    • Bring a soldering iron if you have one. If not, come anyway.
  • Solidworks
    • Learn Solidworks from someone who uses it everyday in his job.
    • Bring your own computer with Solidworks installed or use ours
  • Programming Users Group
    • Are you a programming guru? Then come share your skills with others.
    • Need help getting started? Then come learn the ropes from others.
    • Bring your laptop with programming software loaded.
There is no cost to register, you must register online to secure your spot in the class. Register here: https://technicaltraining.eventbrite.com/

Date:  Saturday, September 28, 2013
Time: 8:00 am until noon
Location: Industrial Systems Technology Center - Northeast Alabama Community College
Open to: Anyone
Cost: Free

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Northeast Alabama BEST Site Becoming More Popular

Our goal in creating a website is to provide relevant, timely information to BEST teams throughout the year. Naturally, of course, the advent of the BEST season brings increased traffic to the site. Through site statistics, we can see how many visits we have to the site each day, week, and month. And it has been interesting to see how many more visits we have seen to the site this year than last year at this time.

For instance, in the month of August we saw 3 times the number of page views than we saw in August last year. As the competition heats up you will see more and more posted to the site. Please be sure to check the site often for the latest updates. Who knows, you might even see your photo on the site after one of our events.

Look for a steady stream of game-related material to be released in the coming weeks.

Looking forward to Kick Off on September 21!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Announcing BEST 2013 Teams

The following teams have registered for BEST Robotics 2013:
  • Bridgeport Middle School - Team 412
  • Brindlee Mountain Middle School - Team 411
  • Crossville High School - Team 413
  • DeKalb County Technology Center - Team 410
  • Fort Payne High School - Team 406
  • Fyffe High School - Team 408
  • Ider High School - Team 407
  • Marshall Technical School - Team 401
  • Pisgah High School - Team 404
  • Woodville High School - Team 403
We look forward to working with each of these teams, their coaches, and their mentors as they tackle //GATEKEEPER_2013//.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Kick Off Schedule Posted

Here it is! The Kick Off Schedule for BEST 2013 has been posted in the Team Resources site. A copy of the file is included below for your convenience.


 Kick Off Day

Location:   Tom Bevill Lyceum, Northeast Alabama Community College

8:30                Registration Open

(All teams should be registered and seated by 8:55 am)

8:45                Theatre Doors Open

9:00                Opening Session – Kick Off of 2013 BEST Robotics

9:45                General Session:

·         Game Explanation/Scoring – Nicole Carroll

·         Organizing Your Team – Nicole Carroll

·         42 Days of BEST – Mike Kennamer

·         BEST Award Rules and Scoring – Sherry Whitten

11:00              Lunch

 Location: Industrial Systems Technology Building, NACC Campus

12:00              Breakout Sessions 1

The Engineering Process
Deni Adkins
IS 105
Marketing Presentations
Whitney Clark
IS 106
Teacher’s Roundtable (for teachers not in field viewing)
Nicole Carroll
IS 109
Kit Orientation & Robot Compliance
Dennis Lester
IS 108
Field Viewing A
8 Teams (maximum 6 per team)
Chris Anderson
IS 110


1:00                Breakout Sessions 2

Project Engineering Notebook
Jessica Blalock
IS 105
Team Exhibit
Debby Wooten
IS 106
Teacher’s Roundtable (for teachers not in field viewing)
Nicole Carroll
IS 109
Kit Orientation & Robot Compliance
Dennis Lester
IS 108
Field Viewing B
8 Teams (maximum 6 per team)
Chris Anderson
IS 110