Starkville schools score big at robotics competition

Starkville High School and Starkville Christian Home Educators compete across the court from each other at the Mississippi BEST Robotics competition on Saturday. SHS placed first while SCHE placed second in the competition. (Photo by Sarah Raines, SDN)
Staff Writer

Three local schools competed in the MS BEST Robotics competition hosted by Mississippi State University's Bagley College of Engineering's Department of K-12 Outreach on Saturday and two brought home top prizes from the competition.

The competition was held at the Humphrey Coliseum on the MSU campus, with one half of the arena set up for competing and the other half designated as the "pit" where teams could repair and maintain their robots between rounds.

Starkville Christian School, Starkville Christian Home Educators and Starkville High School were among the 23 schools competing in the competition.

Starkville High School won first place in the competition and Starkville Christian Home Educators won second place.

Starkville Christian School finished with the top half of contestants in 10th place.

SHS also brought home the awards for first place best robot, first place in best project engineering notebook and first place in best team exhibit and interview.

SCHE also brought home the second place best robot, second place best project engineering notebook, second place best marketing presentation, first place best spirit and sportsmanship and best software design and simulation.

Bagley College of Engineering has hosted the event for 11 years.

"This is our robotics day," K-12 Outreach Director Vemitra White said. "Just like game day, this is our robotics day."

White said there were 5 new teams and 18 returning this year. Teams travelled from as far south as the Gulf Coast and as far north as Memphis.

The day-long competition featured 46 rounds, allowing each team to compete eight times.

This year's theme was Crossfire, and students created robots designed to secure a burning building. There were three challenges each robot had to face during the scenario: get a person out of danger, remove hazardous chemicals and put out the flames.

Doll-sized mannequins were carried out of the center of the court, symbolizing saving anyone inside the burning building. Then, the robots picked up three jars that resembled hazardous chemicals that could worsen the fire. Finally, the robots fired balls at cups that were stacked to resemble fire. When the missile toppled the cups, it symbolized distinguishing the flames.

The top five winners in the competition were SHS in first place, SCHE in second place, Corinth in third place, McNairy Central Team in fourth place and North Pontotoc in fifth place.

SHS team leader Tyler Adair said it is their seventh year competing. Their robot was named Blackout

"We had a six-week process to build," Adair said. "It's just down to a procedure, where the first week we're working on one thing, the second we're working on another, and by the end of the six weeks we're just finishing things up and getting ready for the competition."

The teams were given supplies, with PVC pipe, wood, electrical items, screws, and more building materials and the students had to use the given materials to design a robot in the six weeks before the competition.

SCHE used technology to make sure everything was cut precisely to size for their robot.

"We used a Computer Numerical Control machine to cut out our parts," SCHE team co-lead Adam Easley said. "We ddi a parallel arm system which allows, as the hand pivots down, it keeps it level."

Though SCS has competed for around seven years, this year was SCS team engineering leader Ashton Huxford's first year in the competition.

"We had many different designs, and we ended up running our robot with a counterbalance on the end to help with the motors, and we have electrical tape on the wheels to help with the tension on our robot," Huxford said.